Yesterday marked the end of several months of negotiation between a writer and myself. Today, I’m happy to say, I placed the hard copies of the agreement and the COA (Certificate of Authorship) into the mail for her signature. It’s almost finished.
What a long, drawn out process it has proven to be. I can’t believe that we started this back in June, and here we are in October just finishing up. I never expected negotiations to go on for so long. I figured it would take two to three weeks at the most and then we’d be done and able to meet to my original deadline. Now I need to contact the cast and let them know that they won’t be receiving the treatments this month after all. Instead, it looks like they will have to wait until January to get them.
So, you may be wondering, do negotiations for producer/writer agreements normally take this long? For studio deals, yes. But not in the independent world, according to my lawyer. This was highly unusual. Part of the reason for the delay was because the writer’s lawyer had jury duty and then promptly left on vacation, leaving us hanging for a while. The rest of the time was spent going back and forth with emails and having our lawyers advise and review each step of the way.
I’m a fairly patient person, but I have to admit that even my patience was tested with the length of this negotiation. Fortunately, I had my entertainment attorney to guide me every step of the way. I had recently changed lawyers from one in the LA area to one that is closer to me (San Francisco) and this was our first time working together. What sold me on him was his experience working with independent filmmakers. I had heard him give a couple of talks about legal issues for filmmakers and I was impressed with how in tune he was to the needs of independent filmmakers. He knows that independents don’t have the deep pockets that the studios have and his advice reflected that knowledge. So far I have to say that I’ve felt that he has truly had my best interests at heart; and that’s one of the most important qualities, next to competence, that is needed in a good lawyer. The fact that, before coming to the Bay Area, he worked in LA and has done the big studio deals really makes him well-rounded and a good fit for my needs. If things continue going this well, I’ll definitely keep using his services.
Now that this negotiation is coming to a close, I really need to turn my attention to the other story submissions I’ve received. If I don’t get things moving with those stories, they won’t be ready by January. So I spent some time today giving long overdue feedback. One story looks promising and two others could be, but they need to be fleshed out more.
Hopefully all this work will pay off and I’ll have several good treatments to present to the cast in January. If they like one of them, we’ll be able to go to the next step and start writing the screenplay!