Q: I am a young filmmaker in Australia. I have been chasing the film rights to a book written by an American author. I have gone through the various publishers and have finally been given the name of the agent who represents the author in the States. I am interested in knowing if the film rights to the authors book are available, and if they are, I want to know the correct pathway to go down to purchase them.
A: To find out if the film rights are available, all you need to do is ask the agent (but you also need to do a lot of other things described at the end of this blog). Assuming the rights are available and owned by the author, the next step is to negotiate the deal with the agent on behalf of the author to option the film rights. (If the agent is a tough negotiator, you can try to cut him out of the equation and deal directly with the author; that’s a risky strategy that can backfire. But don’t worry, there are other books available.) And if you make the deal, the final step is to document the deal in an option agreement. You could actually purchase the rights, as you suggest in your question, but it’s unusual to do so — the typical way to go about this is to option the rights.