This is a true story about a friend who didn’t register his show with the WGA.
A friend of mine pitched a show to some production companies. He had shown me the pitch materials including a nicely shot Teaser Reel. It was exceptionally done and I thought it had some legs to get picked up. He was told by all of the Production Companies that it wasn’t a show.
Cut to two years later when a well-known home repair TV show host comes out with a new show that is my friends show. Start to finish. I’m not saying that what happened was wrong or illegal (this is me covering my butt) but you can bet my friend is thinking that if he had spent that $20 on registering it with the Writers Guild he might have had some legal recourse.
Taking your show to the Production Companies is always going to feel scary because we have all heard the horror stories of people getting ripped off.
If you have registered it with the WGA or sent the materials registered mail to yourself you can take these documents to court. (Remember not to open the registered mail envelope).
The judge can then look at the dates you registered your show, the dates you met with the Production Company, and the dates the Production Company started working on the show.
There is no guarantee that the judge will rule in your favor, and doing this does not mean it is impossible for someone to take your show, but these are the best tools available to us in the system that is in place. And if you don’t use it and you experience what TK did it will break your heart.
So whatever happened to my friend? He still works in the business but he is no longer writing.
So be smart. Register your show.