Thank you for your question, Samantha. I chose
it because it brings up an issue screenwriters have to deal with all the
time. We can't help but wonder (or you could use the word,
"worry" -- or, taking it to another degree, "obsess")
if the producer is going to come across with all the promised money, even
if it is stipulated clearly, along with the terms and conditions, in a
written contract, which the producer signed. Okay, brace yourself.
Producers don't always honor their agreements. They have been
known to flake out and not come up with the goods. Your concern is
based on some sort of reality and it is good to do all you can to look out
for yourself in terms of receiving your just due.
But worrying about it is not
going to help at all.
Not one bit. Not one scintilla (I only wrote this piece so
that I could use one of my favorite words, "scintilla.") That's
not to say that you can't be fully prepared in case that scenario were to
take place. But to worry about it -- or to worry about anything
-- is to participate in the most draining of activities.
Preferably, you've chosen to do business with somebody you sense is an
honorable person. If that not be the case, then the
"worry" needed to start a long time before now. Maybe your
first clue was when you took your first meeting (I'm never figured out where
these people take there meetings -- but I'm certain its somewhere very
important where other entertainment people who have taken their meetings
will see them and figure they are important takers of meetings.) and the
producer met you in a smoky (now there's a problem right there because all
indoor smoking in California is against the law. That is, if you're
in California. New Brunswick is a different story. But if you are
in New Brunswick making a movie deal, then that could be a problem unto
itself.) back room and introduced you to his blonde bombshell
"cousin" who he'd like to see as the lead in your epic,
"One Sunday Too Many." Not to mention that he wrote up the
contract on a cocktail napkin.
So, what do you do if you're not going to pass your time worrying?
How do you handle this kind of situation. Start with the
concept that, if you've done and are doing everything honestly as possible
on your end (such as honoring your agreement and writing the best
screenplay you're able to write), then that's all you can do.
Attempting to force something to happen, such as make the producer honor
his obligation to you in a timely manner, is not one of those things you
can do. I'm not saying you can't always state your position and hold
true to it. But, when it comes to actually making the
producer (or anybody, for that matter) do anything, if you think about it,
it's impossible. Now this may be a depressing idea at first.
But if you look into it, you will discover a GEM OF RELIEF: Because
it is impossible to make a producer or anybody do anything, you can
now relax. You no longer have to concern yourself with that
impossible task. You can give turn that over to your Higher Power.
And he can wonder and worry and obsess about forcing the
producer to pay you every scintilla of money you have coming to you.
"But what If I don't have a lawyer?" you ask. Good
Get yourself one and fast. This is a tough business fraught with
Actually, I try not to think of show business through such a cynical
lens. I'm of the belief that you will attract a producer who is as
honest as you are. Honest. Therefore, your real task at hand
-- and I don't mean to wax too esoteric here -- is to cultivate your own
garden, as Voltaire so aptly put it. And he did it in French.
So, cultivate your own French garden. I guess. Or something
like that. Make sure all your ducks are in a row. Or, at
least, that they're neatly placed in the pond of your French garden that
you're cultivating. I could also talk about mending your own fences,
but that additional metaphor would then have you with a fenced-in French
garden with a duck pond, which would have you quickly asking the question
-- and rightly so -- "What does a fenced-in French garden with
a duck pond have to do with screenwriting?!"
Good question. You got me.
But you could use it as an opening statement in an arbitration hearing
over your screenplay, "One Sunday Too Many" to confuse the
See? No need to worry.