The only plausible way to deal with this situation is to not get into it in the first place. If you suspect this sort of thing might happen at some point during your career, if you can see it looming on the horizon, try not to be born in the first place.
Invent a time machine, pop back and shoot either one of your parents in the face – doesn’t matter which, nonexistence will be infinitely preferable to finding yourself sandwiched between two fuckwits who can’t agree on who’s got the biggest cock.
Imagine, if you will, the following hypothetical situation:
Producer A owns the rights to a film and wants to make a sequel. Producer B has the money. They meet, at first they fight, then what do you know … they decide to make a move together.
Both of them like me. Both of them have worked with me before. Inexplicably, both of them want to work with me again.
By the way, if two of you reading this blog are beginning to find certain aspects of this story familiar – it’s purely coincidental. This is a hypothetical situation. HYPOTHETICAL – in capital letters, so it must be true. Besides, neither of the producers looked anything like either of you. One of them had a moustache – and not in a good way. The other one was the complete opposite of both of you. It’s hypothetical, honest.*
So these two producers hire me and at the first meeting there’s a lot of smiles, banter and back-slapping.
Looking back: people usually smile with their eyes as well as their teeth, banter is very similar to name-calling and when you slap someone’s back you shouldn’t knock them off their feet. I guess the signs were there; but, as too frequently happens, I was momentarily blinded by the pitiful amount of money.
At the first story meeting, only Producer B appears and, although he’s terribly polite about the other, he doesn’t mention him much.
Shortly afterwards, the Producer A rings me and demands to know what Producer B said about him.
Not the project – him.
“Um, well, nothing really – he said you were busy and–”
“He’s a cunt.”
Then he drops the bombshell: Producer A confesses how much they hate each other and, between me and him, this project isn’t going to get made. Don’t bother writing a treatment, just take the money and disappear – Producer A will not be relinquishing the rights to Producer B.
So that leaves me … holding someone else’s money. Can I spend this or not? Probably not.
A week later, Producer B rings up: how’s the treatment coming along?
“Um … not bad? Have you spoken to Producer A recently?”
“No, fuck him, he’s a cunt.”
“The twat signed over the rights and I’ve sacked him. It’s just you and me now.”
“Don’t tell him though, right? Just in case he doesn’t know.”
Er … what?
And so it goes on. Producer A is adamant he owns the rights and will not be working with Producer B. Producer B is adamant he now owns the rights and will not be working with Producer A.
I, in the meantime, am being alternately told to write and not write the treatment. I suppose I could, in theory, write it and only send it to Producer B – except, Producer A will surely find out.
Ideally, I should tell both Producers to fuck off and grow up … but – Producer A has another, more interesting project for me to work on. While Producer B, wants to make one of my own scripts after he’s done this one. Walking away from this project means walking away from three projects.
Well, one actual project, one potential project and one completely fucking unlikely project which is already beginning to really, really piss me off.
The problem is, I like both of these guys and individually they’ve both been good to me. They both have strong industry contacts, they both have a track record and they both have potential to throw a completely wobbly if I choose the other over them. I’ve seen what happens when someone gets on the wrong side of these guys – they have access to a lot more ears than I do. Okay, so fear for my rather pitiful reputation shouldn’t be a consideration; but it is. It so is.
Then it gets worse. Producer A wants to make his own version of the sequel – one completely different in tone, plot and characters to the one already discussed with Producer B. Oh fuck me.
A quick glance at my contract confirms I’m contractually obliged to write something – but have no idea what or for who.
It was at this point I began looking into tachyon research.
So there I was (hypothetically) writing two different versions of the same film for two different producers, both of whom claimed to own the rights and both of whom hated the other … with no way out.
Or so I thought …
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the solution because (hypothetically) it might tip off the (hypothetical) producers as to how they’ve been horribly duped. Which, of course, didn’t actually happen. Especially when you consider I got paid twice to not write the same script. §
All I can offer you is this warning: DON’T WORK WITH MORE THAN ONE PRODUCER AT A TIME. EVER.
Unless they’re considerably less twatty than the brand I seem to attract. In which case, do work with more than one producer at a time – with my envious blessing.
I think I had a point when I started this post, but it seems to have got out of hand. I think I’ll just stop now.
* It’s not. It’s depressingly real.†
§ If, however, you were to hazard a guess at the method I might be persuaded to sniff once for yes and twice for no.
† This is a lie, honest.