Yes it clarifies it greatly. So you have the answer, just tell the writer what occurred and make a deal, hopefully on an if come basis...ie if we get this made then you get x percent of script fee...if they dont bless it then ya move on and pit it in a drawerT-Mobile, America's First Nationwide 4G Network
-------- Original message --------
Subject: Re: [screenwriters-261] Question re: screenwriting credit
From: Lee <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
OK, let me start at the beginning...
A film making friend of mine has a book that is a collection of several modern noir-ish type short stories. My friend (who is a DP) indicated interest in several of the stories as potential next projects.
So, because they were short stories, I could write them out fairly quickly (about 2-3 hours) as screenplays. I did so with four of the stories. Once I completed the first three, we all talked about them, and for whatever reasons (logistical/story/etc) we passed on the them. But I wrote them, and have filed them, with no intention of pursuing the production of them.
But the last one, I also wrote it, but hated the ending. After brainstorming, I came up with an ending I did like. After discussing it further with my team, we decided that it was filmable, interesting enough, and based on our abilities & resources, we could actually do it.
So, the script is written... right or wrong, prudent or not, its done. There is nothing I could do to change that.
Now I am left with three options...
The first one is to file it away also without doing anything about it. But based on our discussion, my team & I feel it is worth pursuing.
The second option is to not contact the writer. Now based on an entirely different ending, and how easily it would to re-work the part he did write & I used, I have no doubt if we produced the story, he nor his publishing house would ever know. I am telling you that the ending to his story is very specific, and ours has nothing at all to do with his idea.
The final option was to do whats right, and actually contact the writer about using the part of the story that is his but also letting him know that we changed the ending. Of course he would have the option to either bless our project, or refuse us rights. If he refused, I would move on to a different project.
As of right now, our desire is to pursue the last option, to get his permission. That falls outside of what I have had to do as a producer in the past, as all of the projects I have worked on before were things where someone involved with the production also wrote the story. This would be the first time I was using a story by someone I didn't know.
My goal is not to steal someone else's work, or trick anyone or anything like that. If I asked permission and he said "no", I have enough other ideas that I would have plenty else to work on instead.
I also don't believe I have done anything "wrong" by simply writing a script based on a story I don't own, either legally or ethically. If I now tried to either produce the script or sell it, obviously that would be different. But so far, all I have is words on a page, and done only to determine if it was even something I'd be interested in at all.
If I am truly wrong for writing out what was already in my head, I don't know what to do about it now.
So based on all of that, and because we decided we are interested in gaining film rights to the story, I guess my biggest question is how to approach the writer with our idea of deleting his ending to the story, and inserting our own.
Does that things a bit more clear?
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