Friday, October 26, 2012

Miscommunication in ScreenplayLand

My producer set up a skype session with my co-author and me.  We talked about using kickstarter to raise money to make a trailer to show potential movie funders.

One of the rewards we talked about was reprints of historical posters.

A few days later, the producer called – what would I think of hiring an artist to incorporate scenes from the movie into the posters?  That sounded fine to me.

A few days after that, the producer emailed me the link to a website where such posters are designed.  The website looked professional.  I sent the link to my co-author.  She agreed.

Then the producer called.  The cost for 4 posters was going to be $3500.  The originals are copyright free. He wanted my co-author and me to pay for these posters. He would pay the other costs for setting up the kickstarter.

I told him I hadn’t thought I’d be out-of-pocket to get the movie made.

Our option contract says nothing about my co-author or me paying anything.  We’re the writers. We get paid.

Besides, there’s no need for these fancy posters.  The originals we talked about are in the public domain. Our only costs would be for printing – not design.  But I didn’t think my co-author and I should pay even for that.

I freaked.  I emailed Gordy Hoffman of BlueCat. He responded quickly – there’s no need to pay anything up front for the rewards.  Build them into the budget for the kickstarter. Use the raised funds to pay for the trailer and the rewards.

I sent that information to our producer.  He became insulted. He said he’s done kickstarter before and he knows what he’s doing.

I emailed Hal Croasmun, founder of ScreenwritingU where my co-author and I learned our screenwriting skills.  Hal wrote back confirming that there’s no need to pay for any rewards in advance. And he suggested we consider Indiegogo as an alternative to Kickstarter because Indiegogo lets you use the money you raise, even if you don’t meet your projected budget (a requirement of kickstarter.)

By this time I was feeling frustrated, confused, and considering booking a flight to the next pitch festival in Los Angeles to find a different producer.  My co-author, a former college professor, offered to draft a letter to our producer.  I edited it. She edited my editing.  It was more work than some of our stories – we had to give this our best shot at diplomacy.  We had to work from the point of view that we all want our movie to get made, even though we weren’t sure what our producer was thinking.

This morning I received an email.  Our producer has picked up our option. We are now officially in pre-production, waiting to learn if our first choice actor for the lead adult role wants the part. We are all on good terms again. Yay! 

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