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Information on Screenplay Release Forms

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 12/18/2010

If your screenplay has been turned down by a screenwriting agent, you can try submitting it directly to a film production company provided you include a screenplay release form. You must, however, watch out for a potential `trap’ clause in the form.

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    So, you’ve worked hard for months and finally completed your screenplay? Your next step would be to find a screenwriting agent. Submitting your screenplay to an agent doesn’t necessarily mean that your screenplay will be accepted. Screenwriting agents receive hundreds, if not thousands, of queries from screenwriters. Most of these hardened agents would hardly look at a screenplay written by a new screenwriter.

    If say you can’t interest a screenwriting agent with your screenplay, it doesn’t mean you’re at a dead end. If you think your screenplay has great potential and has been unjustly overlooked by a screenwriting agent, you can submit your screenplay directly to a film production company.

    Although this seems like a taking a long shot at getting your screenplay read and noticed, it’s an option worth pursuing. There have been instances where screenwriters who have been overlooked by screenwriting agents had their screenplays accepted for production.

    You’ve nothing to lose in submitting a screenplay directly to a film production company. The worst that can happen is your screenplay gets turned down.

    One important document or `attachment’ film production companies would need you to include with your submission is the screenplay release form.

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    Screenplay Release Form

    So, what’s a screenplay release form? It's a document that protects a film production company from any legal liability or claim that arises out of your submitted screenplay.

    Most film production companies will have their own release form, which these days can be downloaded from the Internet. Some companies, however, will require you to include a standard release form together with your submission. Otherwise, they would not even consider looking at your screenplay.

    Whatever the case, screenplay release forms have some important clauses that you need to be aware of before putting your signature on the dotted line.

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    Screenplay Ownership

    First of all, you would warrant in the form that you’re the sole owner and author of the screenplay you’re submitting. You agree to indemnify the production company should any successful claim arise out of the ownership of the screenplay.

    In other words, if anyone files a claim on the ownership of the screenplay in a court of law and wins the suit, you’ll have to pay whatever damages or costs that follow from the proceedings.

    Unless you’ve lifted the screenplay word for word from someone else’s work, this clause should not be a cause for concern. Anyway, here are ways to protect your screenplay rights.

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    Tricky Clause

    The other common clause is a little tricky and would require careful consideration before you agree to it. This clause appears to be providing protection for the production company against any claim or suit you may file against it in relation to the content of your screenplay.

    This clause, generally, allows the production company to develop or create content that is similar in theme, plot or structure to your screenplay. Should this happen, you agree not to seek compensation even if the company ends up developing a screenplay and producing a film that may well look like its main idea was lifted from your screenplay.

    If you feel your screenplay deals with an idea or subject that has not been dealt with before in a film, you have cause to worry about the possibility of your hard work being snatched away from you without any compensation.

    It’s a risk you would have to take and in most instances the risk is low. Most companies will not even consider the idea of ripping you off especially when they find that you’ve the potential to be a great screenwriter. They would want to work with you in the long-term for a win-win situation.

    Anyway, this clause should put you on guard. You would want to check the background of a film production company before committing yourself to working with it.

    To get an idea of the general clauses of a standard screenplay release form, visit this site.