Q: A producer is offering me a “dollar option” (aka “The Free Option”) on my script. Is this something I should consider?
A: It depends on who the producer is. If he has a reputation for getting movies produced, and if he’s someone you get a positive vibe from, then a free option for a few months might not be a bad idea.
Then again, if this is a legitimate producer, why can’t he come up with some cash?
If he believes in your script, he should be willing to put up some dough, right? But if this “producer” is some kid fresh out of AFI or USC, then I’d think twice before signing my script over for any significant length of time.
It’s difficult enough for an established producer to get a movie made, so what makes you think some guy out of film school can get your script off the ground? But again, a freebie 3 month option, to see if they can get the project up and running, isn’t a big deal. Anything longer than that, tell ‘em to whip out the checkbook.
I’ve accepted the “dollar option” twice. One (very early in my career) was a complete and total waste of time and I’m sorry I did it. The other turned into an interesting and educational rollercoaster ride and I ended up making some bucks on the second year renewal. Then I optioned the script again to another producer!
APRIL 2015 ANNOUNCEMENT: My debut novel, Luigi's Chinese Delicatessen, is now available in paperback from Amazon.com and Kindle e-book! (You're gonna love it cuz it's all about Hollywood and screenwriting!)