An option agreement grants a producer the exclusive right during a limit time to try to raise the money to turn your script into a film.
As opposed to a commissioned piece of writing, a spec (speculative) script is a screenplay written independently with the hope of finding a buyer.
This makes a spec option kind of a funny thing. A tragically optimistic thing. Like a kid at an orphanage on Christmas Eve holding a page from a Sears catalogue with karaoke machine circled on it. Much of the time, maybe even most of the time, option agreements for spec scripts come and go without anyone ever so much as polishing a camera lens.
Maybe it’s just me. But I feel like it gives the whole process a certain expectation. The expectation of ease. A relaxed air. Don’t get too caught up in the details, just sign it and we’ll do our best. No guarantees. It’s not even likely this will lead to anything, so what do you say?
In other words; don’t get too fussy. It’s just an option.
Like there’s a bias toward not rocking the boat. What’s better after all? An option that may or may not turn into a film or no option at all. Probably shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Shouldn’t put up too much of a stink about things, should I?
Yeah. I should. Because it’s not just an option to try to get the film made. It’s an option to purchase the script once those pieces have been put in place. The price of the script. Transfer of rights. Dozens of tiny details; bonuses, rewrites, reversion of rights– All of that is spelled out in the option.
A single document that sets out the entire future between you and your work.
That’s actually a lot not to rock the boat about.
Fortunately I have Lawyer to get things rocking for me.
And I try to give him a break. Do as much independent research as I can about the jargon and legalese. But I still find I have a lot to ask. I’m three years old again: Why is that? Why not this? Why? Why? Why?
So I’ve been asking lot of questions. Giving our counter offer serious consideration. Getting fussy.
I just hope it’s not more than the producers are willing to put up with. I don’t know the rules here. I only know what feels right. What feels fair. Fair in a world where feature writers are treated pretty damn shitty to begin with. And that’s all I am at this stage.
Because right now these producers are lowballing the hell out of this thing. It’s actually a little embarrassing considering they’d be partners with my manager on the production if this moves forward.
I really hope they’re not gobsmacked by Lawyer’s reply. Because first step toward a career or not, I’m not going to be a pushover just because it’s only a spec option. That will probably expire in 12 months. That probably won’t go anywhere. A film that probably won’t even get made.
Because maybe it will.