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Netflix and the Notary

NETFLIX and the NOTARY: Watching “Munich – The Edge of War” Netflix’s screen adaptation of the popular spy novel “Munich “ by Robert Harris the other day made me think.

How does a British author get their book turned onto a film?  Apparently, Netflix only accepts submissions through a licensed literary agent, or someone with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. Any book that is submitted by other means is considered an “unsolicited submission.”

So find yourself an agent to submit your book and negotiate a book option agreement on your behalf.  But beware, sometimes publishers hold onto the rights of books they publish. Therefore before signing an option agreement, you may need to ask the publisher to sign a release.

Having a book “optioned” means that (for example) a studio buys the rights for a set amount of time to develop the project into a film. If that window expires, the studio can option it again, buy the rights outright to develop the project and move forward with the film, or return the film rights to the author.

It is this Option Agreement that may need to be notarised.  The notary won’t be able to advise on the technicalities, benefits, or pitfalls of the contract. Their role is simply to confirm your identity  and willingness to enter into a legally binding arrangement.  You may be reminded that the Option Agreement gives a producer an exclusive option to purchase the dramatic rights to the book during the option term. This means the producer has exclusive control over these rights and cannot be circumvented during the option period – too bad if you get a better offer!