Just being Paranoid?

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  04 April 2005
Question Just being Paranoid?

here's what i know are the steps to take towards the film industry so far...

1. Write a screenplay. Make sure it's in the proper format and complete any editing.

2. Send out query letters in search of a literary agent.

3. If a call is received, send your script over.

Step 3 is where i am unsure. i want director's rights so i'm going to aim for an independent film. because of this, would it be dangerous to submit my script [idea gets stolen by hollywood]? are the first steps for independent film different from the above or am i on the right track?

Last edited by cammy_jade : 04 April 2005 at 11:18 PM. Reason: add emoticon
  04 April 2005
I could be wrong but i'm pretty sure you don't need to send them the actual script until you're already in negotiations, so i would say that by the time they get your script they already know you want to direct as well.

This is a very hard road to take by the way, as studios won't take kindly to reading a script from an unknown and then discovering they want to direct as well, unless ofcourse you have some profitable credits under your belt, in which case you don't need an agent.

Have you done any pre-production on the film yourself? Tried to figure out what the budget might be? You may just be able to get funding from other places and then make your money back with a distribution deal.
  04 April 2005
i could be wrong myself, but by submitting a script, you also submit your rights to the story. they'll pay you and say "have a nice day" then go on and tear your story apart to suit themselves. production companies won't trust unknowns [esp. newbies] with the job of directing [which is what i am], but if i do it myself [independent film] i can keep my rights to my story. i'm not at all clueless, i know how i want the scenes to be and small things like that...i just don't want to get ripped off, this is very original work i have and the first of its kind.
  04 April 2005
That kind of depends on where you're at with the submission stage, Cammy. If you're going the route of getting an agent, then it's the agent's job to get you the rights and numbers you're looking for. It's also the agent's job to tell you where the deal is flexible and where it isn't.

Of course, looking for an agent also has it's own chicken/egg problems where if you want to get an agent, you need some published work under your belt, but if you want published work under your belt, you need an agent...
  04 April 2005
Smile ...so an agent is my friend?

all that i'm asking now i can just hold onto until i get an agent to ask him?

do i need to publish my work? if i do, i'm fine there because i've been contacted by a publishing company asking to see my work i've previously copyrighted. i think it was Dorrance. but isn't publishing only for novels, magazines, etc.?
  04 April 2005
Okay, here's how it works with agents (As I understand it)...

There are essentially two kinds of agents that are relevant to what you want. There are literary agents, and there are "packaging" agents. Literary agents, contrary to the title, do not necessarily deal only in novels. The term literary agent these days means that it's an agent that handles each client personally, as in "I have a small stable of clientele that I try to pay attention to as much as possible and handle their individual needs." Another way of thinking of it is that their "boutique agents", meaning that they deliberately have a cut-off for how many people they're willing to handle. These individual agents however, can join a much larger agency, so that all of their clientele are managed under one roof, such as the William Morris Agency, or the Spectrum Literary Agency. My agent is a literary one, but he chooses to handle only novels and doesn't deal in screenplays, but that's his choice.

The other kind of agent, a "packaging agent" is almost like an employment agency for studios. Say Studio Widget needs to put together a crew for a project they have a green light on, but there's no particular topic in mind, they just know they can crank out 5 films a year and they have another scheduled production underway. They might contact "The Package Agency" and let them know their needs. The Package Agency then goes through their stable of talent; writers, directors, producers, what have you... and puts together a list and presents this to the studio. Then if the deal goes through, The Package Agency gives you a ring and says "You've got a job."

The big difference is, the Literary Agent is interested in representing only YOU. The Packaging Agency looks at you as an asset amongst its other assets.

But primarily, the role of the agent is to SELL your work so that you don't have to do all that tedious calling and begging for meetings and trying to pitch it. Agents have the contacts, they keep their finger on the industry, they know what's hot and what's not and they're in a position to use that insider information. If Executive Bob says "Historical pictures are the big ticket" and your agent happens to have your historical epic sitting in his files, he makes the call, sets up the meeting, and voila, deal making begins. In literary circles, the famous cliche is "My agent lives in New York so that I don't have to."

As far as whether you can hold onto the story or not when you give it to the agent, the answer is, "Of course you can." When you sign on with an agent, they have no legal ownership of your work, it's still all yours. It is simply their job to find that work a home and then negotiate on the price--and legal rights of studio and writer--to send it there on your behalf.

Mind you, this is within limits. As other people have said, if you're going the route of the Hollywood Machine (tm) then your odds as a total unknown of getting the director's chair are slim to none. If you find an agent that is interested in your work, you're already doing very well, however, you are crippling them and your odds if you say, "But I won't sell unless I can direct." Legally, as your agent, they must comply with your wishes, but they're argule long and loud against it, since in all likelihood, a studio that might have been willing to sign on the dotted line will take the papers back once the agent says "And the writer must direct."

I wish I could be more specific, but I really don't know the ins and outs of televison/film agents very well, all my personal experience is with fiction agents, but I'm sure there are people on this site with more experience with that kind of agency to help you.
  04 April 2005
not at all must you be more specific, that was great! thanks so much for that information, now i can move forward without fear.
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by cammy_jade: [ are the first steps for independent film different from the above or am i on the right track?[/font]

There are many ways to go about making an independent film, but if you want to direct, here's my advice:

Start by doing a few short films.
I believe you want it animated, if so, I strongly recommend you start learning how to animate, start fooling around with the programs. A director has to know possibilities and limits of his tools.

Once you have a short film that you think is very good, you can submit it to various festivals (or agents, I guess) and then get funding for your feature.

That's one way to go about it that doesn't cost much and gets you in the business (very time consuming, though).

Good luck.
master and servant 2D entry
  04 April 2005
with independent film, i have to do more than directing?

i am aiming for an animated film, but i'm not a good artist... i can't even manage to draw the same thing twice. plus i'm not a computer whiz and it would delay time to learn and become as good with CGI as the other members here...

i don't have time for any kind of schooling now. but i have this story as a movie in my heart, so as far as simple things like storyboards and camera directing, i can take on those things. i already have designed my characters and their outfits, i pretty much just need someone to animate them...is there anything else i need to know?
  04 April 2005
Independent film is a beast that constantly changes shape.

Most of the time, by necessity, you'll probably end up wearing a lot of hats if you want to keep the cost down, the most famous example being Robert Rodriguez and the insanity he put himself through to make "El Mariachi" an indie film he made for... $9000 I believe? In order to keep the cost that ridiculously low, he did everything, from filming it himself to composing his own music to cutting it, he pulled a lot of favors, and there's the infamous story of how he volunteered for scientific experiments to get a little cash together. The other example would be Kevin Smith and "Clerks" a film he shot with his friends for about $24000 (Someone correct me if I'm off on these numbers) by taking over the convenience store he worked at at night and shooting guerilla style whenever he had the opportunity.

The hard truth of the matter is people cost money. The more people required for a project, the more money it will cost. And it may not even necessarily be having to pay them for their efforts. If you look at the new non-profit film being touted here on these forums, Star Wars: Revelations that film cost $20,000 to make and the bulk of that was food and the purchase of the camera.

Why people are suggesting that you learn animation is because it can help immeasurably in your directing if you get some practical experience with the medium that you want to work in. It saves you time in the long run if you know Shot A is impossible and you don't have to go back to the drawing board and rethink how to handle it once an animator looks at going INTO production and says "We don't have the resources to do this."

All an "Independent Film" really means is that it wasn't financed by Hollywood. So you have to figure out all the ways that you will get the means and/or money and people/volunteers to bring it together, unless you get really, supre, ultra, mega lucky and find an "Angel Investor" of some kind who's just willing to plonk down the cash and let you worry solely about creative issues. Otherwise, your producer along with you will have to worry about that aspect, and in an indie project, more often than not, you ARE the producer.

But the more you understand about the process of making films, the better shape you'll be in when it comes to make them, because the production won't have to slow down every time something impossible comes up that you didn't know was impossible and the entire crew has to get together to figure out how to overcome the new hurdle.

On the other hand, fortune may smile upon you and you just might get a bunch of volunteers who are very knowledgeable, patient and generous to show you the ins and outs you needs to know and if that's the case, then don't worry about anything, just go ahead and do it.
  04 April 2005
I would suggest you make good friends with someone who can at least show you how animation works, so that you're not totally ressourceless when you're directing a crew.
(Remember that directing is a lot more than just design: you have to co-ordinate a whole bunch of people, solve problems, make difficult choices...)

If that doesn't appeal to you, offer your script to a director you really trust. Once a director takes your idea, though, there's no telling what he might do with it. He might take advice, but he won't have someone breathing down his neck, telling him he can't do this and that, especially if that person doesn't know half the problem.

However, having someone you trust make changes to your script might be very enlightening. My experience is that good ideas can always be improved upon.
If anything bad happens to this one, don't worry. You'll get other strokes of genius and they just might turn out to better.
master and servant 2D entry
  04 April 2005
Jean makes a good point.

Unlike a lot of the other arts (ie, writing, paint, music, etc) film is an inherently collaborative project. The bigger your ideas, the more people will be required to pull them off. Moreso for animation if you want it done in any kind of reasonable period. It's likely that you will find yourself having to rely on a LOT of people to get this done and that means--for better or worse--having to deal with the attendant personalities/egos of a bunch of creative people all working together. When it works, it's amazing. When it doesn't... It's kind of like walking into a pack of jackals wearing nothing but 4 day old T-bone steak on your neck...
  04 April 2005
i understand. so let's say i find an agent. even in independent film i'll need one i'm guessing. and i find a production company that supports independent film [i've watched some independent films by paramount]. that's one way to go [am i right?]

the other way to go is to get by without IOU's and find the money to pay those i hire. in other words, i multi task as the director and producer and what else. i make the calls, set up the schedules, etc. what you guys said.

hm, sounds like i'm just trying to cut around the facts because there's a lot more i have to do now, things i don't know how.

let's say there's an alternative and i publish my screenplay as a book for the time being. no director can touch it without my permission, right? it might not be a film, but at least my script is hanging around safe until i can get around to it, right?
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by cammy_jade: i understand. so let's say i find an agent. even in independent film i'll need one i'm guessing. and i find a production company that supports independent film [i've watched some independent films by paramount]. that's one way to go [am i right?]

Things start getting a bit tricky here. The job of the agent is to sell your work to interested parties, and normally that means targeting the big studios. I'm not entirely sure that a film funded by Paramount could be considered "Indy" so much as just a smaller production to capture that Independent feel. Other studios are also doing the same thing. In that case, yeah an agent with the proper contacts would still be the way to go. Normally for an Independent film it's you and friends trying to figure out how to scrape the money together.

Originally Posted by cammy_jade: let's say there's an alternative and i publish my screenplay as a book for the time being. no director can touch it without my permission, right? it might not be a film, but at least my script is hanging around safe until i can get around to it, right?

Yup, that's pretty much it. If you go the publishing route then that means you'll likely need to reformat your work to make it into the novel since they're two very different things. As a novel it's already protected by the copyright laws for fiction and if anyone wants to do anything with it, they must negotiate with you or your agent to buy the rights to do it as a screenplay.

Unfortunately this also has its fair share of complications in that if you have a novel that people are interested in, doubtless the studio or director that's interested in the property will want to either have their own writers turn it into a screenplay, or else if it's a writer/director, will want to do the screenplay on their own as well as direct since the normal understanding is you're "just a novelist" and so wouldn't have any experience/perspective with being able to handle the demands of a story for the screen.

If you're sitting there thinking this is a pretty daunting task, you're right, it is. But then it'll also be quite the trip if you manage to make it...
  04 April 2005
thanks for your patience
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