From a Book to a Movie

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm delighted to welcome Lisa Grace to The Borrowed Book today. Although Lisa writes for adults, she has a heart for teenagers, and her mission in life is to reach unsaved teenagers through her young adult books. When I heard that Lisa was in the process of having her Angel series optioned for the movies, I asked her to share her experience with our readers. She agreed to do that.

Welcome to The Borrowed Book, Lisa. We're all eager to hear what you have to tell us.

Thank you, Sandra, for having me on The Borrowed Book. As an author, I've always wondered how an author went about turning their book into a movie. I'm lucky enough to be knee-deep in the process. How do you find the mysterious creatures called movie producers? What makes them pick your book from all the others available? The contract? How do you begin to understand all the legalese and what's normal or what's unreasonable?

I can't mention names or amounts as the contract is not finalized, but there are some important considerations that I can pass along.

My angel series is a young adult supernatural series with a Christian bent. You are either saved or unsaved, and there is only one way to get saved. While not a popular book genre, (forty-third according to Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market), teen supernaturals make great movies.

So the first thing you must be honest about is the appeal of your book as a movie. Sites like Numbers have a service where they rate the projected profitability of your book as a movie project.

You have to write a good book, have some buzz going so your book makes it to some bestseller list, (mine was in the top ten for teen horror on Amazon for over three and a half months), then have a movie producer read it, like it, and want it as a project. The next thing they will do is hire a company (like The-Numbers) to see if it meets certain criteria to be profitable.

Okay, let's say you have some producers interested in your book, what's next?

They offer you an option/purchase agreement. Here is one I found online so you can see what it might look like, or not. Cypressfilms

Mine looks nothing like this one! My contract is twenty pages long, but they don't have to be. I recommend you hire an entertainment lawyer like I did. The following is not legal advice, but merely my opinions:
  • Caps are normal, so they can figure financing. Percentage on backend is all well and good, but usually small and depends on the movie being successful. Your best bet is to get as much up front money as you can (just like an advance on a book project)as it may be the only money you see.
  • Keep your copyright and all rights to your characters for future books you may write. You can give/sell the production company a license to merchandise off your characters.
  • Producers, if they are small, may buy your option and then try to resell it to a larger production company.
  • Large production companies may budget a couple of million a year to buy twenty books in a genre and then only make one of them into a movie, but since they own the option for a period of time, they cut down on the movie's competition. And if it's successful, they can choose another they bought and then produce that one.
  • Going with a mid-sized company, your book is their next project. They can't afford to tie up too much money in options, but they have enough money/investors to go forward.
  • Options last from one to one and half years. They pay you for tying up your book at this point. If they exercise the option (plan to move ahead with the movie), they pay you again. You can request backend, but they can say no.
  • These are just the basics. You should hire an entertainment lawyer who has represented authors on book to movie deals. A lawyer will most likely charge you a per hour fee to review the contract, but you can write into the contract for the production company to reimburse you your attorney fees.
And finally, specify an on screen credit, because the only thing cooler than seeing your name on a book cover is seeing it on the big screen.

Wow, Lisa! I can't imagine seeing my name on the big screen, but it's something to hope for. Thanks for stopping by today and giving us this information, and good luck with your Angel series. I know our readers have enjoyed this look at what all authors hope will happen to their books.

What are your thoughts about the chances of a book making it to the big screen? 

9 comments:

Amber S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber S. said...

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Lisa! I've dreamed about having my work published and then having it made into a movie. :) In my daydreams Michael Landon Jr. reads my book and decides to turn it into one of his wonderful inspirational movies... A girl can dream, can't she? ;)

How awesome to see your dream come true! Best wishes for your continued writing career!

~Amber

Lisa Grace said...

Thank you Amber. I'm praying producers start a trend toward Christian films. With the success of several over the last year, word on the info. highway is--they are.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to reading your book, quite interesting. I like christian fiction too, am putting it on my TBR list. be blessed, E

Cara Putman said...

Lisa, thanks for this look behind the curtain. I've always wondered...

Maggie Brendan said...

Lisa, my first book was written into a screenplay and then optioned for a time on Hallmark about 3 yrs. ago. They're still interested but haven't heard much about it lately. I don't know if it'll ever happen and actually don't think about it. I received very little money when it was optioned. Thanks for sharing your insights. All of mine contact was through a friend who wrote the script. Congrats to you! :)

Linda Yezak said...

I am so excited for you, Lisa! I know how hard you've worked to get your book out there and "up" there on Amazon's top seller list. God bless your new venture!

Lisa Grace said...

Thank you E., Cara , Maggie, and Linda.
If anyone has questions, I'd be happy to answer them. It's hard to limit all the issues I'd like to address in a brief article.

Jacks Girl said...

Hey Lisa is one of my favorite members at our new Self Publishing forum. She deserves all the success that she gets. This is a great interview with some very helpful information.

Lisa is proving that if we follow God's path for our life that he will reward us for our diligence and obedience.

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