How to Draft a Screenplay Collaboration Agreement & Why You Need One

How to Draft a Screenplay Collaboration Agreement & Why You Need One

A screenplay collaboration agreement represents a written agreement that documents how parties will collaborate on the writing, and subsequent sharing of rights, to a screenplay. Whenever multiple parties are involved in the creation of a screenplay, a collaboration agreement is not only recommended. It’s incredibly important! Even if you’re a group of great friends who are working together on a screenplay. Be it drafting a screenplay collaboration agreement and signing it is something that you’ll certainly want to consider discussing with an attorney.

Why is a Screenplay Collaboration Agreement Important?

Even great friends can find themselves in huge disputes when it comes to things like – money! That’s right! You’re probably thinking, “Why do we need a collaboration agreement? We’re great friends, and we never fight or argue. What could possibly go wrong?”

The reality is, excuses like this come up a lot. They’re a prime example of why a screenplay collaboration agreement is so critical.

It’s an Investment

A lot of time, hard work, and energy is going to be invested in the creation of a screenplay. Hopefully, in the end, the screenplay will be worth a lot of money. And all contributors will be fairly compensated. As well as provided credit for their work on the screenplay.

But, if two writers collaborate 50/50, who’s name will show first in the credits? Who makes the final decision on things like, the final sale price or other negotiations? 

The Important Details

Questions like these are bound to come up. Great friends may be able to agree on a lot of things. But there’s always a chance for disagreements.

Likewise, when a screenplay is written by more than two people, the likelihood of a disagreement is even greater among the group.

A screenplay collaboration agreement represents a written agreement among the group that dictates all of these important details, and some.

Drafting a Screenplay Collaboration Agreement

You might think you can just download a sample screenplay collaboration agreement from The Writers Guild of America. Or even a similar source and fill in the blanks. However, this is not recommended as anything more than a starting point.

It’s really important for you to consult with your attorney before you move forward with any written contract. Including a screenplay collaboration agreement. To ensure that you’ve covered all of the appropriate legal bases to protect yourself.

In drafting your initial screenplay collaboration agreement, you’re going to want to include the following:

  • Who’s included in the collaboration.
  • What each collaborator is responsible for.
  • What each collaborator can expect from the others.
  • Detailed duties for everyone involved.
  • Compensation details that outline how to share funds from the sale of a screenplay.
  • Information on how to deal with payments of profits, residuals, or the reuse of work and how to split or share them.
  • Information on who will have the final say in negotiations.
  • Details on credits and who will appear in the credits.
  • Information on what will happen if any collaborator terminates the agreement.
  • Information on how disputes will be handled among those collaborating together.

Consider All Aspects

Before you consult with your attorney, you should consider all of the above information and how you and your partners intend to work together on the screenplay.

Whether you choose to split things equally, or a certain member of the group takes on more responsibility and a higher percentage along with the responsibility is totally up to you.

The most important considerations when it comes to drafting a screenplay collaboration agreement is that everyone agrees, all bases are covered, and everyone signs the agreement.

Consult with an attorney before you finalize any agreements so that you’re aware of your rights and the protection that the agreement provides. 

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