Thursday, September 29, 2005

Contractual Obligation

I received the contracts from my new management company in the mail today. It was an odd experience. I have been writing for most of my life, and once I was even paid a few thousand dollars to adapt a novel into a screenplay. For real. It was a spy novel that a family friend purchased, and he saw enough promise in me at 21 to pay me $2500 to try and turn the book into a script.

I'm afraid it didn't turn out so well. I think the script is okay, but it lacks focus. And frankly, at 21, I wasn't really the best with dialogue, and I was still kind of immature, so it's not really fun or sexy or clever in the way a good spy movie should be. Though, if made, I dare say it would still be better than Spy Game.

That's been my only other experience in life getting paid to work as a screenwriter, and really my only experience of writing scripts for anyone other than myself to read. (And now a lot of things are happening pretty fast, and my stuff is being read by dozens of people all over Los Angeles. I haven't really had a lot of time to wrap my head around it all.

I can't understand these contracts too well. I mean, I can read them and figure out what they mean. A paragraph in which I promise to pay them what I owe them, check. A paragraph in which I promise not to work with any other managers while I am contracted with them, check. A paragraph in which I deliver unto them my first-born for ritual sacrifice, check.

You know, standard Hollywood stuff...

But I'm still going to have a lawyer look it over, because they're all so goddamn sneaky. You never know what a lawyer is sticking in there that sounds perfectly reasonable but actually, if you read the fine print, guarantees the company the right to remove your spleen.

I don't personally know any entertainment lawyers, but my Dad is going to show it all to his regular lawyer. I kind of feel like, how different can it be? It's all the law, right? This contract can't be TOO confusing. We're not hammering out the foreign DVD rights for the Fantastic Four sequels or anything. I'm just signing up with this company.

Clearly, this is wrong. Apparently, the way it works is, people who are training to become lawyers figure out really early on what kind of law they want to practice, and then they just focus exclusively on that stuff and ignore everything else. This is kind of a weird system. I mean, doctors all have specialties, but they also all know about general medicine enough to give you a semi-formed opinion about a simple matter.

You wouldn't ask a friend who's in medical school about what to take for a scratchy throat and have them say, "Gee, I don't know...I'm an internist, you need an Ear Nose and Throat guy." They'd say, "Take some Robitussin and stop blocking the TV, you big baby...'Fear Factor' is on." At least, that's what my friend who was in medical school would have said. And he'd have been right, too! "Fear Factor" was on!

So I'll have to figure out a way to get this in front of a real entertainment lawyer, I guess. Which is kind of a challenge, because I really want to get it back to the company ASAP in case they come to their senses and cut off all contact with me immediately.

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