I was having coffee with a Producer friend last night and she was telling me about two of her friends who have an idea for a show. They are moderately successful actors and have done some development work on their idea and are planning on taking it to the Broadcaster that they think it would be right for.
Now if you have read the eBook you know my view on taking shows directly to the broadcaster as opposed to a reputable production company but that’s a whole other story.
Now here is the thing that really got me. My friend told me about a line in the submission contract that needs to be signed before the Broadcaster will even look at it. Submissions release forms are standard procedure but I don’t know why anyone would sign their show away like this:
*Note – I’ve changed the name of the Broadcaster – and you really need to only read the parts in bold
I further acknowledge that XYZ Broadcaster … may hereafter develop program formats and other materials which are identical or similar to the ideas, program formats or other materials which I am submitting … or may hereafter independently develop ideas, program formats and other materials which are similar to the ideas, program formats or other materials which I am submitting and that XYZ Broadcaster will have the unrestricted right to use such identical or similar ideas, program formats and other materials which XYZ Broadcaster has developed and I will have no right or recourse against XYZ Broadcaster in respect of such usage.
In case you don’t speak “lawyer” basically what the paragraph above says is, “we can use your idea and give you nothing.”
I double-checked with a lawyer friend of mine and he agrees if you sign this they can take your submission and make it into a show and give you nothing.
It baffles me that anyone would go ahead in a situation like this, yet it happens all the time.
People work so hard to develop a show idea and then are willing to effectively give it away by signing something stupid like the above. And the reason they sign? Because they get in a rush.
Hey I’ve done it myself. You start doubting yourself. What if someone else has the same idea? What if I miss my window of opportunity? What if what if what if?
You cannot rush this process. You have to do your work and then you have to use the smart system that is in place. Talk to an agent or entertainment lawyer. Pitch the show to production companies. They will tell you if they see something in your idea or not.
There is no guarantee that you won’t get ripped off by someone but these ladies aren’t going to get ripped off. They are offering it up to be taken. It says so in black and white on the submissions contract.
…XYZ Broadcaster will have the unrestricted right to use such identical or similar ideas…
Taking your show public is a scary notion. And it should be because there are unscrupulous people out there. However, you eventually have to take it out there but you can reduce the risks by seeking professional counsel and by being prudent and patient,
So don’t be in a rush to get your show out there, you could be giving it away for nothing.