One of the most amazing talents that filmmakers are instilled with is the ability (or humility) to deal with constant rejection. However, most filmmakers don’t know how to react when they hear the most beautiful three-letter word in the English language, “yes.” So, today we’re going to discuss five key actions to take once you get a “yes” on your project. Without further ado, welcome to “OMG – They said yes! Now what?”
Make Sure Your “Yes” Comes From A Decision Maker
Throughout the cinematic ages, filmmakers have been toyed with when it comes to selling their creative work. “We love your script and we “want to produce it,” turns into, “We love your script, but the head of the company doesn’t.” Then, in the eleventh hour, when “your check” is filled out and waiting to be signed, the principal of the company decides if he or she is willing to part with their money for your project. Sometimes they do, and sometimes the company owners lay the pen down and walk away from investment opportunity. Thus, the best way to hear those three letters, y-e-s, is from the mouth of a decision maker. Should you be unable to speak to the company’s head honcho directly, ask the “messenger” of your good news for the name and title of the person who said yes.
In some cases, you’ll hear, “You have a go project! We just need a few signatures to close the deal.” Beware of such a response, because those “few signatures” may never be obtained. Thus, so it’s best to find out exactly where you stand.
Clarify The Amount of Your Sale
How much are they paying you, and when can you expect to get your first payment? Is your full payment contingent on something, or are you guaranteed the full amount of your sale? Will this sale qualify you for membership into the WGA (Writers Guild of America)? These questions are essential to ask when negotiating your financial compensation. Furthermore, you should NEVER be afraid to ask these questions, nor should you fear hearing their answers. The key is to get a clear understanding of where you stand, and knowing what you can expect.
Clarify Your Level of Involvement
Yes, you just sold your baby/passion project/crowning jewel, but that doesn’t mean the new owners will want you to remain onboard. Unless you have a long track record of being a successful filmmaker, there’s a good chance you won’t be intrinsically involved in your film’s future.
However, you’ll get a check, a credit, and a forward-progressing career. Of course, you can “just say no” to any offer. Just remember, unless your script starts a frenzied bidding-war between massive studios, your first solid offer could be your last.
Lawyer Up For Your Contract Negotiation
Don’t skimp on this part of the “OMG they said yes,” journey. Once you’ve received your “yes,” the second call you should make is to a razor sharp lawyer, who will negotiate and review your contract offer. For those of you wondering whom your first phone call should be made to, it should be to your loved ones, of course!
Don’t Brag Until You Bag A Signed Contract and A Stash Of Cash
You had to know this little piece of advice was coming. As we all know, many great deals turn out to be great scams, or not so great offers made by not-so-ethical people. Therefore, try to refrain from announcing your riches to the world until you have a signed contract on a project that is actively in production, with guaranteed distribution and a release date. Buying the car you can’t afford, or taking a trip you can’t spare the time for, before the above mentioned criteria is met, is just plain risky and more importantly, stupid. The bottom line is, since you’ve waited so long to hear someone say “yes” to your project, you should allow yourself to enjoy the process.
I thank you once more for lending me your eyes, and I’d be honored to borrow them again next Tuesday. I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.