I always welcome emails from readers with questions.
- It lets me know there’s actually somebody out there, and…
- …they usually have questions I asked when I was getting started.
Here’s a good question from one of our readers:
“I have a show idea that has been optioned and pitched in L.A. but was not picked up. Does this cover us the same (or better) than registering it with the WGA?”
First of all congratulations on getting your show optioned; that is a huge accomplishment and a big step in the right direction. Now you know how much work it takes to get your show in front of the Execs and how much work you need to have ready when they start asking questions.
Secondly, I must reiterate when it comes to questions like this that I am not a lawyer, nor have I ever been one, so this is merely my opinion based on my experience. So, now that the “cover my ass” statement is out of the way let’s discuss.
To register your show with the WGA is $20. Twenty bucks. One ten and two fives.
When it comes to protecting your show and your work, this is not the time or place to save money. The WGA is set up to help protect people like us from unscrupulous people who would try to steal our hard work and ideas and take them as their own.
Does an option leave a paper trail of ownership? Yes it does. But, why not spend the loot and use the system as it was intended to protect yourself and your idea.
Now, I heard an exception to registering a show idea just the other day. There was a conversation going on between some people in the coffee shop about not registering their show because they couldn’t explain what their show was about.
The one guy was saying “But we need to register it so we’re protected.”
Other guy. “How are we going to describe it? We don’t have the details worked out.”
First guy. “It doesn’t matter. We just need to register it so we don’t get ripped off when we pitch it.”
Other guy. “But we can’t pitch it if we can’t describe it!”
The “other guy” was appropriately exasperated with his friend. I was tempted to chime in but decided to enjoy my coffee and crossword instead.
The only reason I can see for not registering your show with the WGA is not having enough detail worked out yet to be able to describe it thoroughly and concisely on one page. And if that’s the case you shouldn’t be telling people about it yet, never mind pitching it to Execs.
It’s not that having an option won’t show ownership, it’s just that the WGA system is set up for the exact purpose of protecting you and your show.
There are enough hurdles in trying to get a show made, you don’t need to add to them by taking shortcuts and saving a couple bucks that could protect you and your show down the road.
As always, if you have any questions please submit them via the form below and I’ll get to them via blog so that everyone can benefit from them.