Thursday, July 19, 2007
I have always felt that the "true fiction" books I write and those I also publish for others have a storyline that would make important, entertaining, and wholesome family movies. For this reason, I signed a movie deal with a professed producer who seemed to share my passion. Being very naive at the time, I signed a contract which required the producer to pay me $50,000 for the movie rights and my part in the screenwriting by the "beginning of principle photography." Verbally, I was told I would actually get the money much sooner because I would be the first one paid and because the movie would be made in much less than the time alloted in the contract. He claimed to have investors who'd already promised plenty to get started. (I've since been informed that a legitimate producer customarily pays for the movie rights up front and an author should insist on it.) After nearly four years of working with the producer, when "principle photography" was still an elusive promise, I refused to renew the contract when it came due. This is because he could not show that he had any money set aside for production and still wouldn't pay me. There is evidence, however, that he had actively promoted the movie and sold shares. Just this morning I looked at his website (www.topherrmann.com) and was astonished to find the trailer he made for the Miranda and Starlight movie advertised as the trailer for his "new production" with a different title. Most of the dialog and scenes in the trailer come directly from my books. This makes me suspicious that rather than putting time and money into a new production, he is still using the work done on the Miranda and Starlight movie to collect money from investors, even though he no longer has the rights to make a movie from my work. I am not so much worried that a film, based on my books, will be made since he was unable to do so during he terms of our agreement, but I do worry that new, unwary investors may be putting hard-earned money into something that is not being represented to them accurately.