Entertainment Laywers?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by DeathStar1, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2001
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Anyone here have one?

    I'm REALLY clueless as to how to go about it, but I want to start pitching my show idea to networks. Comedy Central, or Maybe cartoon network.

    I just chatted with the Kappa Mikey Creator(At an animation tour by Nick studios), and he, like everyone else says an Entertainment Laywer, or Copywriting your idea is the way to go so you don't get screwed.

    But how do you know a Good EL when you go searching for one? Reputable business practices and all that....

    Also, is it too much to ask to retain all rights to the series, ala George Lucas, or Peter Laird?
     
  2. Brian W. Ralston

    Brian W. Ralston Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 1999
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Real Name:
    Brian W. Ralston
    Is it just ideas or have you written screenplays? Studios basically do not accept unsolicited material. It is there legal way of protecting themselves from being accused of stealing show ideas from people.

    If you have written screenplays that should be made into TV pilots, movies, etc...then yes, you should not only obtain an entertainment lawyer that represents writers and copyright your work, but you should also register your screenplays with the WGA. That will also give you another form of proof that the stories are credited to you.

    Even with all of that...your story can still get stolen very easily. I have a writer friend who showed his screenplay to a well known hollywood producer who said he would offer advice, etc...The producer liked it, but suggested some changes. When the writer did not want to make the changes and thanked him for his input, the producer hired another writer team to come in and write a new story but making the changes that he wanted. He then began shopping the screenplay on the market through his studio contacts and my friend found out through his agent that a similar story was now on the market. When it was all figured out that this known producer had stolen the idea, my friend threatened to sue. But get this, the producer threatened to sue back if he did not get territories on his script and frankly, he had the money and resources available to make my friend's life a living hell. The studios caught wind of the dispute and now both stories are dead in the water. No one wants to touch them for fear of legal disputes on both sides (because the studios don't really know who to trust and won't risk their investments). On one hand you have a well respected hollywood producer, on the other a less known hollywood writer with much more to gain from the story getting out there. So...

    Perhaps you can call the WGA for suggestions on finding good entertainment lawyers that represent writers.

    Also...there is virtually no chance in hell that a new unknown writer will retain all rights to anything they write at the beginning of their career. Not going to happen. Period.

    So...unless you have millions sitting around where you can just make the thing and distribute it on your own...when you use someone else's money to make a movie, TV pilot, etc...they will be the ones benefiting financially from your work. You will make good money...the writers union will guarantee that. You will get the credit. But holding all the rights...nope. That will be the studio or production company that finances and subsequently owns your work.

    Good luck with it!
     
  3. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    As an alternative to a lawyer, you could find an agent. It will be hard to get a studio or network to listen to your idea without one (but not impossible).

    If you have not written a screenplay, at the very least you need a treatment of your concept.
     
  4. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2001
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    Actually, the only thing I'm concerned about is the following. Owning the rights and likeness to the characters. I don't want the same thing to happen with my stuff that happend with Ghostbusters and Sony. Poor Dan can't ship the idea to a willing studio now because Sony owns it.

    I would like to have final input on where the story goes. I don't want the character changed into a drunkard, or have him get a kid sidekick when the show would be aimed at teens, for instance.

    And I would like final say on merchandise. I don't want dog costumes based on my characters, shoe laces, shower covers, or some of the crazier stuff. But some of the simpler stuff like bed sheets, toothbrushes, DVD's, Toys, etc, i'm OK with [​IMG].

    Thanks for the info [​IMG] And yep, I already registered with the WGA East my first 'episode' script. I'm copywriting the charactes as soon as I have proffesional redesigns done by a friend, wich I hope to bring on as character designer if he's willing. then it's off to trademark the title of the series, again, since the first one was rejected.
     
  5. EugeneR

    EugeneR Second Unit

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2000
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    If you're new to writing, finding anyone to give you the time of day will be extremely challenging. As far as final say in anything, forget it. Not going to happen. Even established writers are lowest man on the totem pole. After years in the industry, and lots of success, you may get terms like the ones you want on certain projects. Until then, if you're lucky enough to sell something, the only way anyone is going to buy it is lock, stock and barrell, unless they are just convinced you've got the next Harry Potter in your hands, which is about as likely as winning the lotto. Sorry.
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Many well established, proven, successful directors and actors don't enjoy such privileges.

    --
    H
     
  7. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Speaking as a fellow creative personality (albeit in a different field), the only way you are going to maintain the kind of control you want is if you entirely finance and develop the work yourself. If you are expecting someone else to take the substantial risk by financing and developing your idea, then you should expect to give up most of the rights to it.

    If you decide to go the independent route, make sure to not only budget for your development costs, but also for marketing, which may well be several times the cost of actually producing a product.

    As for registering copyrights and trademarks, while this isn't a bad idea it will not stop someone from stealing your material or ideas, all it does is provide futher evidence of ownership but it is up to you to be able to afford to litigate, and is only applicable (in the case of trademarks) in the country you are registered in (trademarks are not global) and copyright is only enforceable in countries that recognize it.
     
  8. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2000
    Messages:
    5,205
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think it's worth spending more time polishing & improving the content rather than worrying over bedsheets at this stage, Neil.

    And as Jeff said, unless you're willing to fund the development & marketing, you may have to live with the bedsheets.
     

Share This Page