How do I get film rights to produce an independent film from an existing screen play?

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Question: If an independent filmmaker wants to acquire the rights to an existing screenplay, what is the easiest method of doing this?

Response: As a filmmaker, you should have a basic understanding of the two areas of law most often involved in the filmmaking process; intellectual property and contract law. Copyrights, trademarks, privacy rights and publicity rights all fall under the umbrella of intellectual property.

If you plan on producing a film based upon an original screenplay, you must acquire the necessary rights from the owner of the material, or whoever holds the legal copyright. You will need to negotiate and enter into a legal agreement with that individual. The producer must consult a lawyer to ensure that exploitation rights are cleared and obtained. The attorney must also make sure that the story of the screenplay does not violate other rights, such as the right to privacy. Purchasing the exploitation rights to an existing screenplay may involve a considerable amount of money. Buying an existing screenplay is one of the easiest and quickest ways to obtain a property ready for pitching to a film studio. If the producer doesn’t already have a development deal with a studio or a production company, he or she must advance the money. In some instances, the author may grant the producer the right to try and sell the project and agree to get paid once the production is secured. There are no hard and fast rules in this regard, so whatever deals can be made, will be.

Answered by Linda Adams

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