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November 1996, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Nov 1996 17:38:23 EST
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The following post may be of interest to readers of SCREEN-L
IRE = Investigative Reporters and Editors
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Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 13:17:50 -0500
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Subject: Re: Movies
Re:  Murray Cohen and potential MOW (Movie of the week) stories and ideas.
 People ask me (a producer of TV movies like this past Sunday's fact-based
film TO BRAVE ALASKA on ABC and an executive at Hallmark Entertainment in LA)
all the time how to tell the good guys from the bad out here and how to stay
involved and/or be renumerated for their material/stories, etc.
First, check out any producer's actual produced credits and not just projects
"in development"- see if they're legit.  Next, find out if they're able to
pitch/take material directly to the networks (what we call approved
suppliers).  Individual networks' movie departments usually are happy to tell
you who is generally approved and who is not.  If not, then they're just a
middleman.  Not entirely a bad thing, but often times better for you to go
directly to a producer/company who is an approved supplier.
Ideas are a dime a dozen out here and there's really not much you'll be able
to do with them unless they're fleshed out into a treatment/synopsis, script,
book proposal or actual newspaper/magazine article.  Register it with the
Writer's Guild East or West if you like or copyright it, however, if someone
really wants to steal the concept they just might anyway- again seperate the
hustlers from the legit folks with references and if you can- work through a
literary agent or lawyer.
So, you've got  a story you think might make a great TV/Cable film or even
feature- and I'm assuming that most of the material which would emanate from
IRE members wouldbe true life stories or other non-fiction material.  You
don't so much need to worry about acquiring the rights to the people in the
story at an early point, but DO make sure your relationship with the people
necessary to telling the story is solid (unless they're the bad
guys/criminals, etc. whose rights you would either not need or want in any
case).  This protects you from certain nefarious producers/entrepreneurs,
known as rights chasers, going around you on a story you might have
developed, initiated, written, produced, etc. and cutting you out of the
picture- which has been known to happen especially in cases where people or
material might then fall into the public domain.
What can you expect out of this process.  Money variesdepending on: whether
or not the project is for TV or features or cable; what material and in what
form you bring it to the project; what rights or relationships to necessary
individuals or ingredients you bring; and what expertise you might have on
the topic, story or individual(s).  In addition, it's also possible depending
on the project, and your continued involvement with the film development
process, to receive a credit ranging from "Consultant" to "Co- or Associate
Just some quick simple thoughts I wanted to share with the group.  I'm happy
to answer anyone's questions.  And I'd be lying if I didn't also say I'm
interested to hear about stories for potential TV/cable films.  However, my
present company produces a very specific quality/type of film and so I'd
rather you not look upon my note as a solicitation of material.  As a fellow
IRE member, I'd much rather share my limited wisdom and advice with others
out there.  Sincerely, Marc B. Lorber
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