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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I'm doing a rewrite of a screenplay and finding that, although almost all of the new script is my work, the producer is listing me as only a co-writer.  I'm trying to deal with that.  Do you have any advice?

Mary Ellen 


This week's Answer: 

Getting the Write Credit  

Ah, the ol' "look at all I've done and I want everybody in all of God's creation (or Higher Power's -- I don't use that term lightly because sometimes I think it refers to whoever controls our utilities and I don't want him or her or it to get upset with me and turn off my electricity, which would make it quite difficult to answer this question.) to know about it!"  I relate, Mary Ellen.  It's not easy to see your work "slip slidin' away" into a long list of credits of people, including other writers, whom you may have never even met (or maybe you did and instantly decided that that was the last time you'd meet them at a Starbucks again!)

Like it or not, dear screenwriter, it really comes down to the contract.  What did you sign or sign up for?  Did you agree to be a co-writer?  Did you agree to share credit for your painstakingly wrought script?  If so, then I advise grin and bear it (and not "bare and grin it," which could get you arrested before your first (or last) movie came out).  If you didn't agree in writing to equally share the screewriting credit, then you can put up a tremendous fuss, citing Writer's Guild rules (which, I believe, mentions that, for a screenwriter to receive a writing credit, he or she must have contributed at least a third of the writing), and wailing about equality for writers (I suggest you don an American Revolution period costume -- if you're a man, those pointy hats are very nice -- and, if you're a woman, what lady doesn't like a nice buss to sit on once in a while -- and stand up at the next studio confab or Starbucks meeting and cry out fervently, "Give me full writing credit or give me death!"  (or at least a point or two.  On the backend.  Below the line.  Or above.  Or just pay my rent.)  That might work.  Heck, somebody might write a script about it:  "The Screenwriting Patriot."  You could make a million.  You'd be on your way.  With a million in your treasury, when another producer approaches you with a co-writing job, you can tell him or her to take a long walk on a short pier!  You're your own man or woman now.

Oh... Just be sure to read the fine print.

DcH 

 


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