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    The importance of having a writer sign a release form BEFORE you shoot one frame
    #1
    cool little "title" Charli's Avatar
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    Horrorfest 2013 will soon be underway and a couple of films have issues with writers not signing a release form, thus threatening the director or producer with legalities. So many directors here think it best to write your own script as to not deal with the hassle.

    I say, if you want to make a dent in this business, you need to "learn" how to film a screenwriter's story - someone who has spent time (years) honing the craft of screenwriting, and have them sign that release form before you shoot one frame of film.

    Short films is a collaborative effort, but there is no excuse for a director to not have his ducks in a row and to not get his release forms signed by actors, composers, and most of all, by the writer. It's an important process I believe for directors to work with a "seasoned" writer, depending of course, if you want to hit the independent film market realm.

    It takes an average of 9 scripts written before a screenwriter may sell 1 script, and even if they do, they may never sell another one again. What chances do you have to write a solid full-feature script that will make an impact in distribution?

    Here's the uncomfortable truth. Many of you can't write a solid 6-minute script with a full story (beginning, middle, conclusion) even for these short film festivals. You say, "It's too short a time." No, it's not. A good writer can write a 1-minute story, 6-minute story, 10-minute story without too much of a sweat.

    What I am saying is that it's a GOOD experience for directors to get out of their comfort zone and to work with a screenwriter. To learn this collaboration effort and to hone the storyline into the way you want to film it because in filmmaking arena, you will collaborate with a screenwriter paid by the production company to mold a bankable story.

    Instead of shying away from working with a screenwriter and to do your own thing is all good and well if you want to stay in a small pond. For those who thirst for TV series, webseries, films, or any media which will break you into the business... learn to work with a screenwriter and get that release form signed.

    I've worked with several directors here and never signed a single form, so why did not-signing forms work with me? Because I'm a long-standing member here. Been writing for you guys since 2006. I never signed one form, but I'm not here with an agenda or angle to promote myself either. I'm here to help the director make the best film possible for them. But that's not true for all screenwriters who want to make a name for themselves.

    Unless you really know the writer, don't take that chance, and even if you know the writer, have them sign a release form just the same. There are not too many writer/directors who have hit the big time. You need to learn to work with screenwriters, that's the simple uncomfortable truth if you want to break into this business.
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    While I do think having the writer sign a release is a good idea, legally the email and other conversations are a binding contract. A writer suddenly claiming final cut on a picture due to their copyright is laughable. Even without formal signed contract. The contract has an advantage that it really exists to keep both parties on the same page. Having a contract doesn't stop lawsuits though. And even having a clear agreement doesn't stop people from disagreeing.

    One area a contract can help with though is the after the event issues. I could see a court agreeing that the emails and other conversations between the director/producer/writer constitutes an agreement to film the script for say the horrorfest. But a court might not be so flexible when it comes to what happens to that film after the fest. Having some sort of formal agreement for that phase would seem like a smart idea.
    Matt Sorrels


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    cool little "title" Charli's Avatar
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    Matt - I'm stating it just something that a director/producer should do before the director shoots one frame of film. Despite emails, verbal agreements, etc., just learn to get organized and get released forms signed.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein
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    #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charli View Post
    Horrorfest 2013 will soon be underway and a couple of films have issues with writers not signing a release form, thus threatening the director or producer with legalities. So many directors here think it best to write your own script as to not deal with the hassle.

    I say, if you want to make a dent in this business, you need to "learn" how to film a screenwriter's story - someone who has spent time (years) honing the craft of screenwriting, and have them sign that release form before you shoot one frame of film.

    Short films is a collaborative effort, but there is no excuse for a director to not have his ducks in a row and to not get his release forms signed by actors, composers, and most of all, by the writer. It's an important process I believe for directors to work with a "seasoned" writer, depending of course, if you want to hit the independent film market realm.

    It takes an average of 9 scripts written before a screenwriter may sell 1 script, and even if they do, they may never sell another one again. What chances do you have to write a solid full-feature script that will make an impact in distribution?

    Here's the uncomfortable truth. Many of you can't write a solid 6-minute script with a full story (beginning, middle, conclusion) even for these short film festivals. You say, "It's too short a time." No, it's not. A good writer can write a 1-minute story, 6-minute story, 10-minute story without too much of a sweat.

    What I am saying is that it's a GOOD experience for directors to get out of their comfort zone and to work with a screenwriter. To learn this collaboration effort and to hone the storyline into the way you want to film it because in filmmaking arena, you will collaborate with a screenwriter paid by the production company to mold a bankable story.

    Instead of shying away from working with a screenwriter and to do your own thing is all good and well if you want to stay in a small pond. For those who thirst for TV series, webseries, films, or any media which will break you into the business... learn to work with a screenwriter and get that release form signed.

    I've worked with several directors here and never signed a single form, so why did not-signing forms work with me? Because I'm a long-standing member here. Been writing for you guys since 2006. I never signed one form, but I'm not here with an agenda or angle to promote myself either. I'm here to help the director make the best film possible for them. But that's not true for all screenwriters who want to make a name for themselves.

    Unless you really know the writer, don't take that chance, and even if you know the writer, have them sign a release form just the same. There are not too many writer/directors who have hit the big time. You need to learn to work with screenwriters, that's the simple uncomfortable truth if you want to break into this business.
    Seems like this is more about the importance of learning to work with someone else's script than the importance of getting a signed release form.
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    cool little "title" Charli's Avatar
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    You can't have one without the other. Directors shy away from their comfort zone because of scenarios like this, which could be prevented by getting the writer to sign a release form. It's both.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein
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    #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by msorrels View Post
    ...legally the email and other conversations are a binding contract.
    I'm not so sure that's true, unless you're able to subpoena the data from the person's ISP's servers. Printed copies of emails are easily counterfeited using any decent word processor. It's also quite easy to edit and change the wording of emails before printing. I may be wrong, but I can't see a court just blindly accepting a printed hard copy of an email as being legally authentic.

    If you can prove the authenticity and accuracy of the emails, it likely would be a different story.
    David W. Richardson
    Writer/Producer/Director/Editor
    Chapel Grove Films
    Celtic Cross Films
    Bliss Video Productions
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1400903/?ref_=tt_ov_dr


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