10.03.2006

Lights! Camera! Complaining!

Dear Miss Snark --

Okay, so I've gripped the basic concept that agents who handle book publishing projects don't usually also handle film rights. I don't understand why a book agent's initial contract with an author would include a clause that gives them a generous % of the film rights on a novel [say 10%] even though they don't handle film rights. Is that just a perk for the book agent or are they going to do a lot of work to earn it? If the author says -- this is all about books, let's either write a contract that includes your Hollywood subagent as a signing party, if there ever is one, or just leave the film rights you don't handle out of it -- would the book agent call her a snooty diva and give her the boot?

Thanks!


You never worked as a waitress or a bartender did you?

The people who couple 'generous' with "10%" are usually the ones who order the 16 ingrediant drink, the dressing on the side, and complain their gazpacho is cold.

If you think making a film deal is just a matter of sending your book off to Hollywoodland on the Sunset Limited, and your book agent isn't going to be doing quite a bit of work you are heading in the right direction: LaLaLand.

When prospective clients start quizzing me about why I get a percentage of a film deal, I take it as a sign that they don't understand the business very well, and they really don't understand that there's a lot of work they will never see, and a lot of work that never bears fruit. If I wanted to rob you blind I'd charge you by the billable hour, ask for a reading fee, and enroll you in the Killer Yapp Charm School.

And film agents aren't teamed with literary agents. It's entirely common for a literary agent to work with several different film agents on different projects.

10 comments:

Dave said...

A story went around the Culinary Schools here that a god one star restaurant with ambitions had to tell one of its waitresses that it was "gazpacho" and not "gestapo" soup.

Film rights at 10%, that's enough for a good meal at that same ambitious, one star restaurant with pretentions... YOu get fame with film rights, not money.

katiesandwich said...

This:

"You never worked as a waitress or a bartender did you? The people who couple 'generous' with "10%" are usually the ones who order the 16 ingrediant drink, the dressing on the side, and complain their gazpacho is cold."

and this:

"A story went around the Culinary Schools here that a good one star restaurant with ambitions had to tell one of its waitresses that it was "gazpacho" and not "gestapo" soup."

Made me wet myself.

Miss Snark, you are a rare find. 10%? Most people think 5% is a generous tip. I wish I could have waited on you in my waitressing days.

thraesja said...

Ouch, Katie! People only tip 5%? Yikes. The service has to be pretty damn bad before I'm that mean. Unless, of course, my gestapo soup arrives cold...

Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled that my agent got something out of my film deal. He works his li'l tail off and it's my hope to make him rich, rich, rich.

Dave said, "...YOu get fame with film rights, not money."

Actually, you can get pretty decent money.

Poodle Girl

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

I'm going through this right now, as my book has been optioned but we haven't signed the contracts yet. Yes, my agent has a co-agent for film and yes, we're also working with an entertainment lawywer as we finalize the contracts. But my agent is the center of all communication; she makes sure I'm up to date on all developments (which includes translating most of the alien language in the contract for me, because I'm a dunce), she nudges the lawyer for updates when necessary - she keeps all the balls in the air, so to speak. And I can see it takes up a lot of her time.

So - darn tootin' she's earning her commission in this, and in all things!

Anonymous said...

The waitress analogy doesn't seem very apt. 10% is the limit the WGA allows for managers who handle film rights. If it's not generous to pay an equal commission to the non-film rights agent on a film rights deal, she can type a bigger number in that blank.

December Quinn said...

You never worked as a waitress or a bartender did you?

The people who couple 'generous' with "10%" are usually the ones who order the 16 ingrediant drink, the dressing on the side, and complain their gazpacho is cold.


HA! Yes yes yes YES!! If I had to make one more stupid Miami Vice for one more drunk sorority girl who was going to tip me a quarter...grrrr.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking film rights were like a house and an agent was like a real estate agent, who, by law, gets to split a 6% commission with the other party's agent in this area. I had no idea film rights were more like a sandwich and an agent was more like a waitress. Sorrry.

Brady Westwater said...

Film deals can drag on for... years. Multiple option deals, multiple turn around deals and endless meetings and phone conferences.

I have been on both sides of those deals and the person who ends up with the least amount of money for the amount of hours they put in is easily the original literary agent.

Anonymous said...

I am always boggled by how little people tip. I was raised with %15, period, unless the service is terrible, and started tipping ~20% a while back because I heard that was the new "standard."