In for a Pound

INT. EXECUTIVE OFFICE – DAY

Our WRITER sits across from an EXECUTIVE.

EXECUTIVE

Thank you for the contract.

WRITER

You’re welcome.

EXECUTIVE

I realise now that what I sent through wasn’t close to what we discussed -

Our Writer shrugs – there’s a flash of De Niro in his execution.

EXECUTIVE

- but I’m glad we’re both on the same page now.

WRITER

I’m glad, too.

EXECUTIVE

Especially since our last conversation – we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on how you came on board this project. You’re entitled to your opinion. I get that.

The Writer opens his mouth. Then shuts it.

EXECUTIVE

Right then. Onto this.

(holds up CONTRACT)

Just a couple of things. Clause 2.1 – I’d just like to give that a tiny tweak -

WRITER

What kind of tweak?

EXECUTIVE

Well – my colleague was a bit uncomfortable about its implications -

WRITER

It’s a straightforward clarification of -

EXECUTIVE

Yes, yes and -, well, my colleague – we discussed it at length and I think I’m gonna have to agree with him – my colleague and I would like to remove that clause.

Our Writer is very still. So still we need to look over his shoulder to see some waving palm trees in the distance to know that we haven’t freeze-framed or anything. Meanwhile --

EXECUTIVE

(off contract)

And then there are clauses 7.3 and 9.1 to 9.5 -

WRITER

You want to ‘tweak’ those as well?

The Executive nods and smiles and turns a page of the contract.

Our Writer takes a leap:

WRITER

You want to remove those as well?

The Executive almost claps with delight:

EXECUTIVE

Exactly.

WRITER

You’ve had that contract for a while now, you told me on the phone a week ago that you’re good to go with it, that you just had some minor – “teeny tiny” I believe you said – some minor changes to the contract, and those tweaks involve the removal of standard clauses?

The Executive cocks his head:

EXECUTIVE

... Is that a trick question?

Our Writer takes another leap:

WRITER

If – if – I were to agree to those changes, would you sign the contract -

EXECUTIVE

I’d love to sign the contract -

WRITER

But?

EXECUTIVE

Well... without my colleague – he’s in Mozambique at the moment – without him it just wouldn’t be right if he wasn’t here to sign it as well -

WRITER

So you’re not even going to sign the contract -

EXECUTIVE

I didn’t say that – I mean, come on: what’s another week? You’re working in good faith already, aren’t you? We believe in you. My colleague, he might have had some concerns, but I’ve alway backed you to the hilt and I’ve made that crystal clear to him every time you come up in conversation.

WRITER

If you don’t sign this contract, I’m walking.

EXECUTIVE

(does a silent ‘WHOA!’)

Is that any way to talk to a friend? What’s one week? What’s a few teeny, tiny changes to this contract that you’ve -, you’ve foisted on us?

WRITER

‘Foi-’?

(takes a breath)

You sent me an email saying, ‘We don’t have a boilerplate contract – please send through one of yours’. Which I did. At my own cost.

EXECUTIVE

And thank you for that. It’s just... I’m not comfortable signing it right now.

Our Writer gets to his feet and leaves the office.

TO BE CONCLUDED.

Note: … Ah: a Hollywood ending.

What really happened was: I girded my loins and stayed and negotiated. No clause removals were necessary. I got it signed. The whole process took a number of hours even though I’d only scheduled a quarter hour.

I had a contract.

I did the job.

And as it shrinks into the distance behind me, I lustily sing as I type this, and try to learn something from the experience.

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