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Old 01-25-2012, 05:57 PM   #1
IntoTheLightTheFilm
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Getting Demoted?

I have been directing for about 7 years. I wrote a script for a movie my bud likes. My bud is a bit older and has been directing for 20 years! He writes, produces, directs, and everything. He's also a business man and gets to see the ins and outs of both professions. Anyway for a while he's been talking about assembling a crew to make the film happen. And also funding as well! He told me I could direct and I was all set! But then he said he found 3 other directors interested in the film who have done countless countless movies.

This is when it started to suck. My bud is now screening those directors for the main director role, while I get shafted to AD, apprentice, or even less who knows. I wrote it and put all the ideas for camera and such, I hope I get to keep writing position to. He told me it helps sell the film and that's what all good productions have to go through.

Is it normal for this to happen? How did it turn out if it happened to you? My guess is even if you're really good at directing, lighting, cinematography, and working with actors, they do this to help sell a movie? It just seems strange to me *shrug shoulders*

Last edited by IntoTheLightTheFilm; 01-25-2012 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:35 PM   #2
directorik
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First; welcome to indietalk.

You know, of course, that the First AD is not a "demotion" from
director. The First is a completely different job. You know that
because you have been directing for about 7 years, but some
here may not. The bad news is, if the producer wants a different
director the producer can hire one. Since you did not have a
written contract stating that you would direct there is little you
can do.

Sorry this is happening to you. turns out you bud is more of a
business man than a friend and I know how much that sucks.
We all do. This is why everyone should have written contracts
even among friends.

What you could do is not allow him to use the script you have
written. Unless you have a written contract with him regarding
the script, it is still your script. do not allow him to use it. You
could in essence hold it hostage. He can use this script only if you
direct. Otherwise you take it to another producer and work out
the directing deal.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:58 PM   #3
Alcove Audio
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Of course - and yes, it's really hard to look at it this way - since he is a businessman and has 20+ years experience, you should be complimented that he wants to get the best director he can to direct a script in which he believes so strongly.

I've been in the position numerous times where I did all the work and got none of the credit, which I feel is even worse. At least you will get credit where credit is due.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntoTheLightTheFilm View Post
Is it normal for this to happen? How did it turn out if it happened to you?
Nothing is normal! He could have fired you, and you would have asked if that is normal. Anything can happen, each situation is unique. Adapt or bail.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:03 PM   #5
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Sorry about your situation. I'll just reiterate two things Rik said
1. The AD position is completely different from that of a director so you need to think about whether it is for you or not, if you can learn to do it, etc. (for instance, it's not for me. I don't have the right personality)
2. Unless you have a written contract with your friend regarding the script, it's your script, and nobody can make it into a movie without your permission. So think about what kind of leverage you might have. You might just want to get paid, if directing is not a possibility.

Hope things work out for your. Welcome to the board.
Aveek
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:17 PM   #6
IntoTheLightTheFilm
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Originally Posted by Alcove Audio View Post
I've been in the position numerous times where I did all the work and got none of the credit
Dang that's horrible. I'm more of a director than writer that's why I do want to be able to use it in my reel and get to work with others and big productions.

And yes AD is much different than a director's sidekick. He says that the new director will take my vision and my advice. But that's not in writing and I don't really want to end up ultimately as just an Assistant Director. But I guess it's a step in the right direction? Hopefully it is nothing personal about my ability and just for marketing reasons.

Thanks for any more advice in advance guys
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by IntoTheLightTheFilm View Post
He says that the new director will take my vision and my advice. But that's not in writing and I don't really want to end up ultimately as just an Assistant Director.
You might want to put that in some perspective. If your friend hired me as a director, and let's say I was a seasoned director, I wouldn't take your advice just because your friend told me to. I'd take your advice, only if I thought it was any good. So it's subjective. I wouldn't really let anybody tell me what they thought I should do with the movie. I'd probably come in with my own plan. And if you kept giving me too much advice, I'd probably get resentful, etc...

So you may want to think about your position in this effort. Think about where you have control, and where you don't. Just because a filmmaker, or anybody, promises you something, doesn't really mean anything. Things have already shifted under your feet. They will again. If you're prepared for it, you will remain a happy man. If you put too much faith in what your friend tells you, you might get sad again. So just be smart about things I suppose.

Sorry I can't be of much more help at the moment. I just wanted to give you a general sense of "be careful."
best,
aveek
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:42 PM   #8
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I've actually previously considered what I would do in this scenario. The way I see it, you're kind of looking at a glass half-full/half-empty scenario.

If it were me, yeah, I would probably be as diplomatic as possible, but I might border on being bull-headed, in making sure that I direct the thing. Cuz yeah, this is your baby, and it sucks to think that someone else might be taking control of it.

But on the flip-side, you've got someone excited about your writing, he wants to finance it, he wants to keep you involved (at least in some respect). That's a good thing. It's not exactly what you were looking for, but it's definitely a glass half-full!

So, I can't advise you what to do cuz I've never been in your shoes. I can only say that I think you should look out for your best interests, and if that means taking a stance that you want to direct, then do that, and don't be afraid to be diplomatic but confident and bold. Conversely, don't feel bad about the "lesser" of the scenarios, because even that is still a good scenario.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:03 PM   #9
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The way you should look at it is - How badly do you want this movie to be made?

If you walked away with your script, is there someone else waiting in the wings?

I'm guessing the guy thinks it's going to make money. Do you want a part of that?

Basically, go with the flow. Hopefully they'll improve and not destroy your work.

Either way, hope you make some cash, and the movie turns out to be a positive turning point for you.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:18 PM   #10
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I think the OP is getting that Lando Calrissian/Darth Vader relationship feeling:


Darth Vader: Calrissian. Take the princess and the Wookie to my ship.

Lando: You said they'd be left at the city under my supervision!

Darth Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.


http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0000031/quotes




AS the OP grabs his ankles an "takes it" how much of this situation is he supposed to "appreciate"?

Last edited by rayw; 01-25-2012 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:49 PM   #11
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AS the OP grabs his ankles an "takes it" how much of this situation is he supposed to "appreciate"?
Ray, I love you dude, and I enjoy many of your contributions, but to be frank, I think you need the greater context of actually being out there -- trying and trying again to get your work noticed, working diligently to network with people, hustling and begging to get underqualified people to work on your project (and being genuinely grateful that they did).

In this context, a partial-success is not a failure. It is a success!
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Old 01-25-2012, 11:35 PM   #12
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In the given scenario I do believe the person acting as producer, stating that the OP was to be the director of the material he has written, then subsequently altering that position to anything else - without any rational or professional conversation leading to an agreement - is acting less than ethical.

If you and I have an agreement that's really a contract I'm sticking to my end of it until you and I come to some harsh reality understandings that say otherwise.
I tend to be a man of honor, even if such is rather passť in our culture.
If I'm going to h3ll it's not going to be over something as petty as dodging a conversation with a business partner.

Now, to move on to something a little less... subjective, US law has clearly defined what is an enforceable contract, written or oral.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/contracts
If the following criteria are met a contract is enforceable:
1. Offer
2. Acceptance
3. Consideration (something of value, such as goods or money)
4. Permissible subject matter (contracts for illegal acts, for instance, are not enforceable)
5. Legal age and mental ability to enter into a contract ("capacity")
6. Intent to form a contract

1 - The position of director was offered.
2 - The position was accepted.
3 - Compensation was either accepted or waived.
4 - The role of director was legal.
5 - We're going to assume the OP is not a minor and is legally competent.
6 - The OP wanted to be the director that the producer was offering, so there is a contract.

These conditions satisfy an enforceable contract that the "producer" is changing at will.

This is NOT a success.
This is unethical.
Immoral.
And illegal.

I'm not going to hell or jail over dumb sh!t.
This is dumb sh!t.

Ron is due what he and his business partner have agreed to.
However, Ron may have made a very poor business agreement.
These aren't high school kids or weekend hobbyists mucking around.
These are grown men who know better, or should.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:52 AM   #13
IntoTheLightTheFilm
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Thanks for all for those standing up for me...... and thanks to those letting me know that you got to bite the bullet and accept it. Both views really help me.

The reason why I guess it did bother me is that I'm not trying to be a professional writer; my dream is to direct and my friend knows that. So being listed as writer doesn't really help all that much. AD can still open some doors if Im being positive.

I have been taken advantage of in the past and am always weary. However, that was in the past and I believe I'm with people I know and can trust.

For a moment I was thinking about just stepping away and telling them exactly what was on my mind. That you got to have some integrity and not do things behind people's back just to make dollars. I think it annoyed me because in order to arrive to this point, there were also lots of other little lies in the process. Please any more opinion and suggestions are welcome.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:57 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by rayw View Post
In the given scenario I do believe the person acting as producer, stating that the OP was to be the director of the material he has written, then subsequently altering that position to anything else - without any rational or professional conversation leading to an agreement - is acting less than ethical.

If you and I have an agreement that's really a contract I'm sticking to my end of it until you and I come to some harsh reality understandings that say otherwise.
I tend to be a man of honor, even if such is rather passť in our culture.
If I'm going to h3ll it's not going to be over something as petty as dodging a conversation with a business partner.

Now, to move on to something a little less... subjective, US law has clearly defined what is an enforceable contract, written or oral.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/contracts
If the following criteria are met a contract is enforceable:
1. Offer
2. Acceptance
3. Consideration (something of value, such as goods or money)
4. Permissible subject matter (contracts for illegal acts, for instance, are not enforceable)
5. Legal age and mental ability to enter into a contract ("capacity")
6. Intent to form a contract

1 - The position of director was offered.
2 - The position was accepted.
3 - Compensation was either accepted or waived.
4 - The role of director was legal.
5 - We're going to assume the OP is not a minor and is legally competent.
6 - The OP wanted to be the director that the producer was offering, so there is a contract.

These conditions satisfy an enforceable contract that the "producer" is changing at will.

This is NOT a success.
This is unethical.
Immoral.
And illegal.

I'm not going to hell or jail over dumb sh!t.
This is dumb sh!t.

Ron is due what he and his business partner have agreed to.
However, Ron may have made a very poor business agreement.
These aren't high school kids or weekend hobbyists mucking around.
These are grown men who know better, or should.
Doesn't it seem like the two of them were sitting around and the guy told Ron "This is really good. Let's do it. You can direct, I'll Produce." Ron said "Great". Then the other guy saw better options for Director. Maybe he'd shown the script to others for opinions.

Maybe Ron would be magnificent in the role of Director. But, these others have more experience. Maybe they're just better Directors outright.

Does it suck for Ron? Yeah. But, his script might be better for the change. They're already starting with more "known" experience.

Maybe having a more experienced Director will get them funding easier.

He doesn't go into enough detail to say anything definitively. But, making the best picture possible should be the end goal. His friend seems to think a more experienced director is the way to go.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:52 AM   #15
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I'll say two things.

1. You don't have anything in writing now. Get something in writing! Start with the original agreement: he produces and you direct, and negotiate from there. It's your script, you have leverage. And remember, a good contract is something that protects and satisfies both parties.

2. Re: the whole "I am a director not a writer" situation, here's some perspective.
From wikipedia:
Quote:
After Tarantino met Lawrence Bender at a Hollywood party, Bender encouraged him to write a screenplay. Tarantino directed and co-wrote a movie called My Best Friend's Birthday in 1987. The final reel of the film was almost fully destroyed in a lab fire that occurred during editing but its screenplay would form the basis for True Romance.
We have no way of knowing how it felt to Mr. Tarantino to lose his position as director of his film, if IT were around then maybe he would have come on to make a thread about being 'demoted' to just a writer.

BUT, that film was a critical success and broke even. After it Tarantino had enough clout to direct his next film himself. That film was Reservoir Dogs and the rest is history.

Just some food for thought.
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