Wunderkind Child


I refer you dear reader to a film maker bulletin email I have received this evening. It’s a shining example of the kind of stuff I see nearly everyday regarding producers looking for scripts. I won’t put the guy’s name on this but I will start quoting.

Firstly our producer/director introduces himself alongside a link to his latest short film. It’s all good so far, he’s done good stuff. Then we get…

‘Right now I’m looking any writer that has un-produced scripts that they would like to see brought to life.’

Fantastic! He’s done movies before so isn’t some joker with only a Youtube channel to his name and he’s willing to read new scripts. I’m seriously thinking about giving him an email with the synopsis of ‘Order For Burning’.

He then lists the music artists he’s worked with, the adverts he’s filmed and the vast selection of software he uses. More importantly, he has his own company. This is seriously sounding better and better.

‘I’m considering any genre and style but I’m really looking for scripts that allows for visual flare, that can be considered cinematic in content, and have strong themes & subtext that’s explored within the narrative.

I’m naturally drawn to big concepts but I am considering anything and everything at this point.’

Okay, Order For Burning might be a story about witch burnings in a Scottish setting but it does have themes of religion, how people will commit torture gladly if their belief system dictates it and society’s attitudes towards women. There’s a fair bit in there that chimes with some modern day stuff.

‘These projects will be self funded so I’m not looking for any scripts that need serious financing. As a result of self funding I will not be able to buy or pay for any scripts that I make.’

Uh oh…It was all going really well too.

So this producer who has worked with stars, been on the books of advertising companies and has experience up to his eyeballs will not pay a penny towards any script he makes..

‘…but I will happily sign a profit sharing agreement in case the film wins money at a festival or earns profit in any other way.’

Yes my friend, you’ll be happy because you’ll have got a script for free. I seem to have to settle for ‘in case’ and ‘earning profit in any other way’. So I have to wait until you’ve broken even just to get a sniff at anything do I?

‘Please be aware that any scripts chosen are likely to under go some changes to maximise my vision of it. This wont ever be a personal reflection on the quality of the script’.

So even after spending the grand total of absolute zero on it you believe you have the right to change everything around. As part of a normal film making process this is perfectly fine but I highly doubt that you’ll be paying me for rewrites if you can’t be bothered paying for the script in the first place.

‘I am planning to post this in as many places as possible with the aim of reading as many scripts as possible. With this in mind, if you wish to submit a script/scripts for me to read it must come with a short letter that very briefly covers the following:

A quick summary/description of the scripts narrative
A list of any (if any) themes, issues, subtext, visual metaphors addressed in the script
A quick description of yourself
contact details

Please understand that I cannot read any script that doesn’t come with this’.

So not only are you not going to pay me but you’re also going to make me jump through these hoops just for the privilege of you possibly reading it. I assume you won’t accept a synopsis like most others in the industry then?

When ‘Robotics’ was made I didn’t get any money from that as a writer, the main reason being it was a short. Shorts traditionally go around festivals and do not make any kind of return. If they’re asking for features then the amount of work involved would require payment. If it’s shorts then the promise of ‘making money at festivals’ should be seen as the bullshit it is.

I’ll be keeping my scripts in the drawer for this one.

Has anybody out there ever found success writing for free?

5 thoughts on “Wunderkind Child

  1. I like the way you have weeded out the downsides to the offer. There are a lot of people/places “out there” that seem to offer incredible deals, and yet many of them seem suspicious. Thanks for sharing this one!

    1. It genuinely annoyed me. It’s mainly the fact the producer says it’s a self funded project but none of that fund will go towards the writer. To then wrap it up in some vague promise of profit and to say they’ll alter it to suit a vision they have is utter trash.

      They don’t want a script, they want a free idea.

  2. So even after spending the grand total of absolute zero on it you believe you have the right to change everything around. <key point as well as the overwhelming brass neck to ask for a free script. Sadly some sucker will do it.

    Your post raises the really ugly issue of writers not getting paid. When the hell did writing become so cheap? With huge money ladden sites like the Huffpo paying zero. It's disgusting.
    As well as the culture of payment through 'exposure'. Not sure the last time I filled my belly with some wholesome exposure, or extracted exposure from a bank machine.

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