In addition to the Magic Bullet articles, I’ll be doing these “Quickie” articles that will consist of reader questions that I frequently get, along with the advice I reply back with. Please let me know in the comments if you find these useful, and I’ll put more up.
The script I have written is an adaptation of a video game, and I wanted to know what the rules and restrictions are for something like this. Do I have to buy the rights from the game developers or can I try to sell the script and a production company will buy the rights if they want the script?
If you have time to answer could you let me know.
Thanks for your question, it’s one I get a lot. Lately, I’ve been getting a rash of submissions for people who wrote adaptations of lesser known comics, for instance, and ask me what they can and can’t do with it.
As to your question, unfortunately when it comes to rights for big name books (or major release video games in your case), rights are usually bought by producers or studios way before the material ever gets released to the public. These days, pretty much anything being churned out by a major publisher, video game maker, or comic (even lesser known and first time authors) are getting optioned before the horse even leaves the gate, as having them before they turn out to be hits keeps their costs down (rights to a bonafide best selling novel being much more expensive is way more expensive than one you *think* might become a best seller). It’s a risky but ultimately smart strategy by the bigwigs that unfortunately squeezes out the little guy.
Now, there is good news. If it’s a great script, it could both A: get you representation (more likely), and B: get you in the running to write on assignment for another similar action movie. It is HIGHLY unlikely, no matter how great your movie take on the video game is, that a studio would buy the script or even let you rewrite a draft of their existing take on it, since you would be new to the industry and they hire big, proven guns to rewrite big budget tentpole movies.
Never underestimate the power of a great, high concept writing sample. As professional writers who focus on assignments, pitches, and (especially) rewrites make more money than those who keep trying to churn out spec after spec, I have seen many a pro make more bank off the back of their writing sample than one who keeps trying to sell their favorite script.
To submit questions to be answered on the blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I make it my mission to help aspiring writers, so feel free to email me for advice as well.