Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Beware of Helping Hands
One of the things I've encountered time and again as I pitch shows are people who want to help. Everybody loves show biz. Everybody wants "in" - to be a part of that Hollywood Glamour that just comes dripping off us.
A number of years ago while I was trying to get Freaky Stories up and running, I was introduced to a man, we'll call "Ted". Ted was a retired broadcast executive. He was very wealthy, very well connected and with his amazing career credentials - very impressive. He literally traveled the world, "helping" young producers get started.
Or so it seemed.
I'll be up front with you - Ted had the best of intentions. He wasn't out to hurt anyone. He'd sign you up - then try to put like-minded people together.
This is much like what a distributor does - except Ted didn't approach it like a business. It was a hobby for him. He also bought up rights to films and TV shows - but didn't know how to sell them - so they'd go stale on the shelf.
That's what happened to me. He'd call from all over the world, promising big things "next week" - but for a year, "next week" never arrived. Finally Ted and I parted company. But I kept an eye on him for a long time - none of his "big deals" ever materialized.
Ted didn't need to work. He did this to keep his hand in the game and stay relevant. That was his thing. For him, it was something to do.
From my point of view - I think its natural for newbie producers to look for "Angels" to help them out. Someone who will champion your project and move it forward. That's fine. That's an honest emotion/reaction. But the truth is, you have to keep your eye on your Angel - to make sure that they're REALLY doing what they say they do.
With Ted - while he didn't hurt me, he did waste my time. What I find these days is that everyone wants a piece of the action - but they're not willing to do anything to earn it. And believe me, there are a LOT of people out there who are making promises.
So how do you handle this? In any agreement, be it a letter, a contract or whatever - make sure that THEIR role in the project is clearly spelled out. They have to produce "A" in order to earn "B". And there has to be an EXPIRY DATE. If they don't 'produce' by a certain date - they're toast.
This will save you a lot of pain, suffering and hurt feelings later on - trust me.