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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rouge Waver Question

Anon E. Mouse, a dedicated Rouge Waver wrote in the other day and asked:

I recently took a meeting at a reputable production company here in
Los Angeles, regarding a recent script my writing partner and I had
submitted through a producer friend. Long story short, the company
gave us notes to implement and a timeline to see the revised version.

My question is this - how common is it for a production company to
request a series of revisions from relative newcomers and expect them to implement them gratis? I have a feeling it's very common, but would love your advice on how to handle a situation like this so we don't waste our time or get ourselves screwed.

This is an interesting question and yes, you are right, Anon E. Mouse, that it is not uncommon. It has happened to me in fact. My partner and I had a script in development with a biiiiiig deal producer with an office and first look deal at a biiiiiig deal studio. We had meeting after meeting after meeting. We rewrote the script to this producer's exact demands at least five times. More meetings. And mind you, we were very excited since this was a biiiiiig deal producer and a sale seemed imminent. But it never happened. We worked for free for many months and then the project got sidelined and that was the end of that.

So how common is it to be asked for gratis revisions? Very. Is it a good idea? Depends on who the producer/production company is. My advice would be a) that you should have your rep helping guide you through this and b) you should communicate to your rep a timeline after which, the producer/production company needs to, um, what's the polite term....? Blank or get off the pot. Make a commitment. Stop yanking you the writer around with a leash made of hope and dollar signs. Doing the work cheerfully and professionally for a couple or three revisions is one thing. You are building a relationship and midwifing a possible sale. But after that I suggest, based on my own experience that you push the pause button and ask for a conversation about where this is headed.

It doesn't sound like you have a rep but all the same I would do a couple of revisions and then have a straight forward conversation about what lies ahead. Mind you, the producer will completely avoid making any committments or firm, easily translated answers, but you're going to have to lay it on the line at a certain point. Here's hoping you have a happy ending to this situation and hey - let's put things in perspective - this is pretty cool!

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