By Pinaki Ghosh
Till date most of my blog posts have been aimed at screenplay writers only. However the visitors of our site TheScreenplayWriters.com include both screenwriters and filmmakers, producers, directors, studios who are looking for screenwriters. Now here is something which is aimed at both screenwriters and clients who are looking for screenwriters.
What is the format of a screenwriter contract? What legal points should be covered in a screenwriter agreement that fairly represents both the parties – the screenwriter and the client?
Given below is a compact screenwriter agreement format which you can confidently use, whether you are a screenwriter, or a client looking for a screenwriter. You have to simply change the phrases in ALL CAPS with relevant information.
Agreement Over Writing A Screenplay For A Film
By this memorandum of understanding, signed this DATE; both the parties described herein under as, represented by CLIENT’S NAME of CLIENT’S ADDRESS, phone number CLIENT’S PHONE NUMBER, also described as the ‘client’; and SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME, SCREENWRITER’S ADDRESS, phone number SCREENWRITER’S PHONE NUMBER, also described as ‘screenplay writer, do hereby agree to all the terms described and given below:
1. CLIENT’S NAME is commissioning screenwriter SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME to begin the project of writing the screenplay of a (approx) NO. OF MINUTES minutes long feature film.
2. The tentative working title of the film shall be ‘NAME OF MOVIE. This title is subject to change.
3. The deadline for completion of this screenplay is NUMBER OF DAYS days after the signing of this agreement.
4. CLIENT’S NAME agrees to pay SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME a consolidated sum of TOTAL FEE AMOUNT for the project that will include the following:
a. Writing the screenplay on the story/treatment laid down by CLIENT’S NAME .
b. Editing it thoroughly before submission., so that the final version is free from errors like spelling and grammar errors, and typos.
5. The fees of the screenplay writer will be paid as follows:
a. 1/3 as advance to get the project started.
b. 1/3 after 40% work submission.
c. The remaining 1/3 fees will be paid on 80% work submission and approval.
6. SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME is subject to NO royalty or commission on the sale or business from the screenplay. He is only entitled to the one time project fees of TOTAL FEE AMOUNT.
7. SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME (screenplay writer) will maintain full confidentiality and secrecy about this project. At no point during the project will he reveal any idea or concept of the film, to anyone, in any form; even if this contract gets terminated at any point during the project.
8. If SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME is unable to complete the project for some reason, he will convey that in writing as email as soon as possible. In that case he will be entitled to a payment which is proportionate to the amount of work he has completed; subject to approval from the client.
9. The screenplay will be 100 – 120 pages in length.
10. The screenplay writer will get credit for his/her contribution to the film.
11. SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME agrees that he will not take the help of any plagiarism, meaning he will avoid using borrowed material in this screenplay exactly as they are found elsewhere.
12. SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME agrees to do necessary coordination with the director or any other person or persons referred by the client, for proper shaping up of the project if necessary.
13. CLIENT’S NAME will own all copyrights for this screenplay.
14. CLIENT’S NAME will have full freedom to deal with any filmmaker, producer or agent. SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME will have no say on these matters.
15. CLIENT’S NAME can request SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME to make a reasonable number of changes and edits during the period of production of this screenplay and within 1 month of completion and submission of the screenplay.
16. Any disputes arising between the parties related to this contract and project will be settled by courts in NAME OF YOUR CITY.
Both the parties do hereby agree to the terms laid and set above.
CLIENT’S NAME (client)
SCREENPLAY WRITER’S NAME (screenplay writer)