Author Advice Micheal Robotham
We asked Famous Thriller writer, Micheal Robotham for advice on Film Rights: 'I have interest in my book for a film deal, what should I do?'
My advice: be very careful about signing away film rights to any company or individual unless they have a strong track record in producing/directing films.
There are a lot of fly-by-nighters or wannabes, who will try to secure film or TV rights and then hold on to them indefinitely, a bit like cyber-squatters who hijack domain names.
Legitimate companies are then stymied from making any film or series unless they pay the new 'middle man'.
Similarly, you can find newbie filmmakers and producers are looking for their start in the business. Such collaborations can be really great, but rather hit and miss.
The main thing your friend should do is ensure that they are only selling an 'option' for a limited period i.e. two years with an option to extend if financing is available. Similarly there should be a clear payment schedule laid out, spelling exactly what the author will receive for the option, and at every stage of the filming process.
i.e. pre-production, release, merchandising, residuals etc. This is why film deals are far more complicated than book deals.
If this is a serious offer - they should be able to produce a serious contract which your friend can show to a lawyer (perhaps even one who has experience in handling film deals).
Hope this helps.