Acquiring Underlying Rights – The Nuts and Bolts of Locating, Negotiating for, and Acquiring the Rights to True Life Stories, Books, Plays, Newspapers and Magazine Articles

Acquiring Underlying Rights – The Nuts and Bolts of Locating, Negotiating for, and Acquiring the Rights to True Life Stories, Books, Plays, Newspapers and Magazine Articles

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There’s nothing harder than breaking into the entertainment business, but notice how many film and television projects are based on underlying material – books, articles, true life stories.  Acquisition of underlying rights can seem an un-climbable mountain, but having a script that comes with the self-promotional attachment of underlying rights gives you a leg up on the competition.  And truth, as we know, remains stranger than fiction (except perhaps for “The Walking Dead.”)

Mitch Paradise, a screenwriter who has been through this process a dozen times, will share with you tips and facts on how to locate the subject, approach and talk to the subject, and negotiate the best possible deal.  He’ll use not just anecdotal experience, but share contracts and other material that will enable you to get to the finish line secure and ready to begin your adaptation.

Learn how to overcome your fears, build trust between you and your subject, and feel comfortable with the legalese that might have seemed too daunting to attempt acquisition in the past.  The benefits of a project “based on……..” cannot be overstated.


  • How to pick the gem from amongst all the other stones
  • How to approach individuals for their own life story
  • What is “public domain” and what it can mean
  • How copyright may or may not apply to your project
  • When and why to avoid agents, publishers, and journalists and when not to
  • How to talk to your principal – what to promise and what to avoid promising
  • What is an “option” and what it means to “exercise your option”
  • How to create a simple “shopping” agreement
  • How to create a long-form, detailed contract


  • Any writer, new or experienced, who’s ever thought about wanting to write a script based on a true incident or life story or underlying material
  • Writers who want to maximize their options on submitting material to the industry
  • Writers who have found a great book or article but don’t know what to do next
  • Writers who have felt confused by, or intimidated about, acquiring underlying rights
  • Writers who know of a great life story they want to adapt but think acquiring the rights is too difficult or costly
  • Writers who do not have a lawyer and are confused or concerned about the extent to which they might need one
  • Writers who would like to understand what a simple shopping agreement or a full rights contract looks like and the difference between the two
  • Writers who would like to know more about copyright and public domain

Mitch Paradise has been a member of the Writers Guild of America since 1983. He adapted and Executive Produced “Bleacher Bums” for a Showtime original movie, based on the award-winning play. His screenplay adaptation of the biography, “Nick the Greek, King of the Gamblers” by Cy Rice, will be published as a graphic novel which he will write – basically adapting himself after adapting the novel he first acquired the rights to 30 years ago. He is currently circulating a spec television pilot in the industry that he adapted from a group of novels by the same writer and featuring the same main character. Mitch has acquired the rights to numerous other true-life stories, some of which have first appeared in daily newspapers or national magazines, often negotiating his own contracts.

The Writers Store does not offer any refunds for the webinar. All sales are final.