Deal Terms for Newbies part 2 - Complications Ensue
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

OutofContext comments:
So, if I understand correctly, a studio deal essentially mirrors an option from a producer. An independent producer will take out an option which spells out the terms (payments and guarantees) that a studio (or producer with actual money) will want to secure and attempt to sell those rights for a profit and maybe attach themselves to the project. The difference with dealing directly with a network then is cutting out the middle man.
Right. Generally even if it's a network deal it's done through the producer, at least all of my deals have been with producers. The difference is if a network is involved before I do the deal with the producer, then (a) the network will have to approve the deal and (b) I will get to ask for a much nicer deal, since it's already a project a network wants. I think the exception would be where the showrunner has his own production company; Joss Whedon's deals are between his company, Mutant Enemy, and the network.
You mention developmental scripts as opposed to production scripts. Is that essentially what development is; the generation of enough good scripts to convince the studio that the project is viable?
That's it precisely.
Also, at what threshold does a writer who is brought in to an existing project get a 'developed by' or an actual 'created by'? Is it guild determined or a negotiated credit?
The "Created by" credit usually belongs to whoever writes the pilot script. If a heavy hitter showrunner rewrites someone else's spec script, then he might share Created By credit, or get a Developed By credit. Who gets the Created By credit is something you'd definitely want specified in your deal memo when you option your spec pilot. My deals say I get the Created By credit. A less established writer's deal might guarantee "no less than shared Created by credit."

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