QUERY LETTERS - Complications Ensue
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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Q. I am in the middle of writing a querry letter and wanted to know if I should mention that the screenplay (which is completed) is already registered with the WGA.
I never do. It seems amateurish.

And moreover, personally, I never register my scripts with the WGA. I will copyright them with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress if someone asks me to. I have perpetrated a whole section of my FAQ on this very issue.

But mostly, I don't bother. I don't believe anyone's going to steal the idea; and there are usually lots of people (my wife, my assistant, my agent) who could testify that when they first read the material, it had my name on it.

Networks are not in the business of stealing material. Neither are producers, really. Who wants a lawsuit when you can just option the damn idea and then hire someone else to rewrite it if you don't like the way it's executed?

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Whether you register or not depends on the strength of your 'in'. If you are giving your material to a higher up through an agent, you probably don't need to register your script. But if you're giving it to some underling at a studio for coverage, you should protect yourself. I know someone who gave a script through a friend of a friend for coverage at a big studio (and he was encouraged by said friend to use a different title and 'nom de plume' so just in case the coverage wasn't good, he could resubmit it without fear that it had been labeled as bad), and four months later he read in Variety that a script with his exact same concept and with the obvious original title was bought by that studio for high six figures. He had no real case and got screwed. So unless you have an agent, I'd spend the 20 bucks or whatever and register it.

By Blogger bosshog, at 2:21 AM  

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