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The Playwrights Forum > General > Take the Stage > Get it in writing.

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 Moderated by: Paddy, Edd
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Get it in writing.  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Wed Feb 13th, 2013 05:36 pm
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Paddy
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Mana: 
If I can give other playwrights a heads up, then it might not have been totally in vain.

In the fall I had a full-length play run for four weekends in North Hollywood. Great review. The theatre was excellent during the process. Lots of communication, etc.

I have had over fifty productions of my plays, so I'm not a neophyte.

Also, as the AD of a theatre company, I'm mindful of playwrights. We are not for profit, but everyone gets paid - something. But the first to be paid are the playwrights. A dollar a minute a night for short plays. This works out to about a hundred dollars a night - and as it's site-specific, we can only take an audience of fifty. I've never been asked for a contract. I've never offered one.

I didn't not negotiate royalties for this play in Hollywood. A few months after the play ended, I enquired. We are not for profit, was the reply. No one gets paid. And so I didn't. I was so shocked, I still haven't replied.

So now - contracts - especially for a full-length play.

So now you know.

Paddy

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 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2013 11:08 am
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katoagogo
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Mana: 
Wow. It is a shocker when this kind of things slaps you. Very good advice. In business this kind of thing is called "the fuzzy front end." Negotiating and spelling out the terms can be tedious, stressful, and enraging - but it's a necessary evil.

My story about not dealing with a fuzzy front end had to do with a collaborative project. Oy. Getting it all out in writing would have solved so many problems.

Thanks, Paddy, for your post.

--Kato

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 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2013 10:15 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
I won the Business Law Medal as a sophomore in High School. The most important phrase I ever learned in my life was the Latin: Caveat Emptor.

It means, "Let the Buyer Beware."

Sorry this happened to you Paddy.

Essentially, you can trust no one. Not your mother, your brother, your husband, wife, child etc. and especially not your best friends. Not even god. Again, YOU CAN TRUST NO ONE. If you want something, you must spell it out. Never use an oral agreement over a written one. This doedn't mean have have to be paranoid. Just be smart. Remember: it is business agreement. As a friend told me years ago, "The shakiest ship that ever sailed the seven seas is a partnership." You nee a contract.

Assume nothing.

I have mentioned this constantly on the Forum.

Join the Dramatists Guild of America. They have standard, protective contracts for any level of theatre and are available for advice.

Richard Garmise, now in his own private practice, who was the Legal person at the DGA said years ago at an excellent presentation at Chicago Dramatists Workshop, "Just because you have 10 kids, doesn't mean you let one of them play in traffic." Protect every piece of work that you do.

Anyway, there have been too many ugly and destructive disputes between friends...OFTEN VERY, VERY GOOD FRIENDS AND FAMILY. You can look up the chaos and damage that has surrounded just one production called "LATE NIGHT CATECHISM" that originated in Chicago. It has been produced worldwide.

Here is a brief link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Nite_Catechism

I am sure there are other links that go into further detail.

Especially I say this to warn young "collaborative groups of friends": YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE A CONTRACT. You never know what is or is not goIng to be successful. Go to an attorney and get an agreement. If you are young and have no money, there are Attorney's for the Arts in most major cities that can give reduced costs.

AGAIN: YOU CAN TRUST NO ONE.

I am not sorry to say that. It is just the way of the world.

As the old Chicago News Bureau had as its motto: "If your mother says she loves you...check it out."

Except in the instance of "The Jersey Boys!" Those of you who saw the show, know what I am talking about. Essentially "Death before Dishonor" to the coda of "The 'hood!' "

Essentially: ASSUME NOTHING. GET IT IN WRITING.

One little phrase you can add to CYA any contract is, "All rights not explicitly mentioned in this contract remain solely with the playwright." Check with an attorney on ALL this, but it has always worked for me.

And you NEVER EVER EVER EVER give anyone SUBSIDIARY RIGHTS or a percentage at a small theatre.

AGAIN: Join the Dramatists Guild of America. they have standard, protective contracts for any level of theatre.

best,

in media res

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