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The Dallas Screenwriters Meetup Group Message Board › Question about Adaptation Rights

Question about Adaptation Rights

A former member
Post #: 7
Hi all. I had a great time at the meetup last weekend. Thank you, everyone, for being so welcoming.

One person brought up a great question about the process for procuring adaptation rights for an existing work. The answer pertained to novels written by agented authors. This question actually applies to me perfectly, and it's one of the things I'm most interested in learning about right now, but my situation is a bit different.

In addition to being a screenwriter, I write fantasy/sf short stories and have several friends who are published writers, but not novelists. They're unagented but fantastically gifted (in fact I just found out today that two of them have been nominated for Nebula Awards). As a writer/director of short films, I'm finding that their stories are a treasure trove of incredible material. So I'm in the process of adapting several of them into short screenplays. In fact, I did just that with one story and ended up shooting a film that won a cash prize at a screening, so I know this is a great idea.

Unfortunately this is a case of the blind leading the blind in terms of legalese and rights and all that crap. I know that Stephen King used to support filmmakers by letting screenwriters buy adaptation rights for his short stories for a dollar. With several caveats, of course. In fact, if I remember, that's how Frank Darabont came to him with a script called The Shawshank Redemption. But I haven't been able to find a copy of this contract anywhere.

Short of hiring a (very expensive) entertainment lawyer, does anyone here know of resources for applicable boilerplate contracts? I have one template that I've found, but it has spaces for future percentages, budgets, and all this stuff I can't wrap my head around. My writer friends like the $1 idea but none of us know what to think about, or even what questions to ask The Google.

Does anyone have experience with this kind of thing?
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