Severance is going fine, before anyone panics. The title of this post refers to other people...
You know, I knew going into this business that there'd be dodgy dealings, people who'd try to fuck me over, and lots of general underhandedness. But I didn't expect sheer, blatant unprofessional behaviour. When me and Pat took Harvest to the Very Big Film Company, everything ran smoothly, we dealt with a really cool guy there (who is still cool, none of this is his fault), and we were very clear that (a) I would be writing it, (b) Pat would be directing it, and (c) we were open to any suggestions. We even changed the storyline at their request (and, er, it was a good idea). We met with the guy the other week, and he said he'd try to get the lawyers to hurry up the contracts.
So. They come back to our agents with a deal. A bad deal. I'd get less money than I got for Severance - which was a newbie spec script, not something you get huge amounts for - and Pat would get hardly any money at all. Oh, and he wouldn't be able to direct. No way. Oh, and they could kick us both off after the first draft. Forever. With no more money forthcoming. Oh, and he couldn't even have input during the first draft. Apparently, the cool guy's boss suddenly pretended that she hadn't known about Pat directing, that it was a huge shock to her, and said "no way, he's not doing it". Even though she has known very well, the whole time - that was half of the point of this whole thing, he specifically came up with an idea for him to direct. But now he'd simply be removed, with hardly any money, no creative input, just a story credit. What's in it for him?
So. Pat, rightly, decided to tell them to shove it. As the whole thing was his idea, it was down to him to say yes or no, so the deal is off. I'd have been okay if it had gone through - a decent amount for the draft, and a fairly decent amount for the full payment (assuming it got made and I wasn't kicked off) - more than decent, but still less than the Severance money - but I totally agree with Pat's decision. I'd have done exactly the same thing in his position. They just wanted to squeeze him out and buy the whole idea out from under him for very little money.
So. We walked away. We have turned down a deal with one of the biggest film companies in the UK.
And you know what? Fuck em. We brought them something really cool, really commercial, something different and exciting that would have made them a shitload of cash - and they played silly games and messed us around. Anyway, we've still got Harvest, and we're still tweaking the outline and pitch documents, so it'll be all ready if anyone else shows any interest in the future. When we are a bit more well known, we can get it out again - and if it does get made, and is a big success, and the Very Big Film People wonder why we're not working for them, I'll tell them exactly why.
In the meantime, the first character who gets killed in my next horror script is going to be named after a certain person at a Very Big Film Company.
Update from the future: Ironic, considering the title of this is "unprofessional wankers", as it's possibly my most unprofessional blog post. I was younger, naive, and idiotic, and sound like I expected to be just given a deal on a plate... Up and coming writer bloggers: don't do this. EVER. I'm leaving the post here (with some of the more unpleasant phrases removed) as an example to others of what not to do. I had no right to expect any amount of money, or even a deal, and the "kicked off after first draft" clause is used quite regularly for people who have hardly any credits (me, at the time), just in case they flame out. The exec in question *did* know Pat was supposed to be directing it, so it was still annoying - but I should never have written this ranty blog post about it. Complain about being treated badly, fine, but not to this level of detail. It's a sure fire way to damage your career and reputation - and sound like a whiny, entitled, unprofessional wanker. Dear 2005 Me: you're an idiot. No love, 2012 Me.