New to PowerGrid Pro? Confused by the insider lingo?

Here's a quick guide for newcomers to the movie development business! Read it every day and you'll be pitching like an insider in no time.

Adaptation: A retelling of a concept in a new way, often in a different medium than the original telling.

Attached: When writers, actors, directors, or producers are committed to work on a certain project.

Buyer vs. Seller: Buyer refers to a company that can finance a movie – either a studio or a production company with money.  Seller refers to an agency or 3rd party company that handles the deal to get the movie distribution.
Development: Before a movie is in production, it is in development.  This means the producers are piecing together the concept, script, and talent (directors, actors).  There are various stages of development:
  • Greenlit: The project has secured financing and will most certainly go into production.  It’s a “go.”
  • Inactive: A project is no longer moving forward or is in turnaround.
  • Next Wave: The movie is good to go.  The final elements are being tacked on before the project goes into production.  Basically the same as pre-production.  The movie is getting a crew together, a budget, shooting locations, a shooting calendar, maybe the final members of the cast.
  • Packaging: The elements of the movie are being put together – especially casting.  Sometimes tacking on the director once some cast is attached.
  • Priority: A movie is not yet greenlit, but it is high on the list of movies the studio or production company would like to make
  • Regular: A movie is on a company’s slate (list of movies they intend to produce someday), but is not on the top of that list, and may take years before it sees any movement.
  • Set Up: A movie that has financing.
  • Turnaround: A movie project that has been in development is released by the studio that developed it. The producer can then shop the script elsewhere.

Executive vs. Producer: An executive works for a production company or studio and is in charge of overseeing the development and production of a project.  They have the authority to change the development status of a project and are tasked with making sure it gets as close to production-ready as possible.  A producer can do any number of things, from developing the script, to packaging, to accruing financing.  The key here is that executives oversee and producers produce.

Film rights: A copyrighted property (book, game, toy, foreign film, play) that is for sale to a buyer to adapt into a feature film.

Independent Feature: A movie that is financed by a company other than a major or mini-major studio.

In negotiations: A contract is being hammered out for a writer, director, or actor to work on a project.

Offer: A writer, director, or actor has been offered the opportunity to work on a project, but they have not necessarily expressed interest in signing on to the project.

Open Directing Assignment (ODA):  A studio or production company is looking for a director.

Open Writing Assignment (OWA): When a studio or production company is looking for a writer.  Either it’s just an idea, or they need someone to rework a draft.  In any case, there’s a project that needs a new script. POWA = Priority Open Writing Assignment.

Option: A producer has acquired the exclusive rights to a property (including screenplays) for a certain amount of time, should he/she accrue the necessary financing to make the film.

Physical Production: The movie is currently filming.

Pitch: A writer tells a studio or other buyer about an idea they have, in the hopes that they will be paid to write a script based on that idea.

Post Production: The filming is over, but the editing, special effects, and other polishing elements need to be added to the film.

Remake: A movie that has the same story as an earlier movie.

Spec script: a script that was written “on speculation” that someone would purchase it.  No one paid the writer to write it.  It can also be used as a writing sample to get a writer a job filling an open writing assignment.

Studio vs. Production Company: A studio can produce, finance, and distribute.  A production company can do one or two of the above, but not all three. 

  • Produce means they can actually make the movie (develop it, set up production, hire the crew)
  • Finance means they can pay for the movie
  • Distribute means they can release it
  • The major studios are: The Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony (who owns Columbia/TriStar), Warner Bros. Pictures

Territory: A buyer to whom a spec is being presented by a specific production company.  Often, when a spec is taken out, various production companies will obtain the exclusive right to bring the project into the buyer with whom they have a relationship/deal. There can be multiple territories, but only one production company per territory.

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