A few years back I finished the first draft of my first screenplay ever. Like a lot of folks who dream of Hollywood success, I was eager to share my work with the world. Problem was, I had no idea what I was doing.
Through a friend of a friend, I was put in contact with an “entertainment attorney.” I put the words in quotes because while there are tons of people with a strong work ethic and great integrity, this particular guy was not one of them.
I remember getting off the phone. I was super excited because this guy had agreed to read my screenplay and offer me feedback. So like most writers, I sent off my screenplay – packaged with the appropriate cardstock cover and two brass brads… And a few weeks later I get a email:
“Jason. Thanks for sending me your screenplay. I read it. Because you want to produce your own movie, I think you will need a lawyer who understands how to put together a private placement memorandum. And also, while we did not talk about this prior, you owe me $250 dollars for the hour I spent reading your script. Please send me a check ASAP.”
These days I would tell him to go “F” himself. But back then, I had no idea what I was doing. So I sent him his money. And to make it even worse, $250 dollars represented an entire week’s salary.
The whole point of this is – if someone agrees to do you a “favor,” it’s best to get reciprocal expectations in writing.