I want to turn an existing play into a movie for an indepent film festival I am entering. How do I go about getting film rights?

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Question:

Question:  I would like to take an existing stage play and adapt it into a movie.  What is the best way to do this?

Response:  To obtain the right to make a movie out of an existing play, the filmmaker must license the film rights from the author or the individual who owns rights to the work.  Once you have identified whoever holds the copyright, a license must be negotiated which awards the filmmaker the right to produce and distribute the motion picture.  You then need to decide if you wish to purchase the rights outright or take out an option on the rights.

An option agreement is a contract that allows a producer to obtain the film rights for a period of time.  Instead of acquiring the rights immediately, a purchaser obtains an option to purchase the property for a short time, whereby he or she can secure financing.  The producer can secure the property for a relatively small amount of money.  When the option is exercised, the purchase priced is then paid.  Option agreements in the film industry are typically set up for one-year periods.  However, properties may be optioned for as little as a few months if the producer is confident about selling the project quickly.  Most often, the initial option price is roughly ten percent of the final purchase price.  Whichever route you decide to take, you will need an attorney to help you navigate this challenging process.

Answered by Linda Adams

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