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Development is what happens before any funding can be sought (Koster, 1997, p. 13). It is the process of developing a concept or idea into a finished screenplay (Cones, 1995, p. 3). Essentially, this is the stage where the idea begins to be turned into a reality and this reality is usually in the form of a script synopsis, an outline proposal, or a treatment. Thus, development is the first hurdle for the film project (Gates, 1998, p. 4). The producer must formulate and organize the idea or concept for the movie, acquire the legal rights to the underlying material, prepare the outline, synopsis or treatment, and write, polish and revise the various drafts of the script (Cones, 1995, p. 3).

Development can be a long and arduous process because, as discussed above, investors will need to understand exactly what it is they are being asked to invest in. This generally means the producer must approach them with detailed contracts for the principal elements of the production and a very clear idea of what the producer is proposing. This usually means that even before the producer makes her first bid for production financing, she must negotiate extensively with many people, including stars, writers, directors, and their 'people.' All of these people have to agree and the agreement has to be noted. Gates notes it is a good policy to get everything written down before a production begins to roll (Gates, 1998, p. 7).

The producer must also secure the rights to the story she wishes to tell. No investor will invest in a project that could be the subject of a lawsuit later on. A producer can purchase a story on which she plans to base a film in several ways. One method is to purchase an option on a novel, short story of play. The option gives the producer exclusive rights to the work for an agreed-upon length of time, but the actual purchase is deferred until the producer has raised the financing. The option usually represents a percentage of the...

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