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Friday, July 25, 2008

An Emerging Regional Writer writes
A regional director for the CBC has read the pitch bible for [my show], as well as my Lost spec. She's interested in working with me and developing me as a writer. She said that she was ready to offer me some money (she said $1500) to write a pilot for [my show], after which she would put it into the right hands in Toronto. I mentioned that there were other people also reading the pitch bible now (I sent it to Mr. X at Big Commercial Network last week), and that I would like to consult some people first before I signed anything, but that I was very excited and interested in working with her. She also proposed that I could come up with something else, any half-hour series that could be set in [my province].

My problem is, if BCN was interested in it, I would rather go with them. I don't expect to sell a series by any means, but considering the fact that CBC just did [series in similar territory], it seems even less likely that they would do it.

Should I
  • Wait for BCN and try to come up with a [my province]-based series for CBC; or
  • Go with the CBC
. Also, should I bother trying to get an agent to take care of this for me, seeing as how it would only be $1500 for a pilot script?

Should I contact the executive at BCN and tell him that CBC has made me an offer?
First of all, you need an agent. An agent can tell you whether $1500 is an appropriate amount to be paid to write a pilot. My feeling is that it is not. WGC scale for an hour drama is $14,000; pilots are paid at 150% of scale. I think you should take the money. But it should be structured as an option, not a commission. $1500 is an appropriate amount to option your pilot. Since you haven't written it yet, you would still be writing a script and getting paid $1500. But the network would not own your work; they would only have an option on it. An agent can tell you if I'm right about this.

The main reason you need an agent, though, is that the deal isn't just for the $1500. You're not selling your series for $1500 flat, are you? You're selling a pilot in order to be involved in your series if it goes. What's your job on the series? You're a newbie, so you're not the showruner. But you should be guaranteed a story editing job. What salary? How many weeks? How many scripts are you guaranteed? What's the royalty? What's your credit? ("Created by," presumably, but only if it's in your contract.) A good agent will know what deal points are appropriate, and will negotiate them without irritating your network exec.

Your agent can also let Mr. X at BCN know about the CBC offer. However, there are two reasons to go with the CBC. The CBC has a mandate to develop regional talent. BCN does not. They develop less, and they produce much less. (This is true whichever Big Commercial Network you're talking about.) Their goal is to air as much American content as they can.

Second, you have enthusiasm at the CBC. Enthusiasm is rare and fleeting. I would not let the iron cool at the CBC. I would not propose a different show if they like the show you have.

Of course, it will take weeks or months to negotiate a deal with the network. In that time, if BCN wants to come back with a serious proposal, then your agent can always let the CBC know they've got a bidding war on their hands. This usually makes everyone hotter for the project.

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The CBC and the BCN (whichever) all DEVELOP the same number of series - development is cheap. The CBC must PRODUCE more owing to its mandate. And yes, the CBC must pay homage to regionalism. The others are also required to do so, but not to the same extent.

My two cents, for what it's worth.

By Blogger deborah Nathan, at 9:45 AM  

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