Author Solutions wants to start making movies. The company, which has over 145,000 self-published titles in its library, has started a film development fund with $1 million of seed money to acquire the film rights to books by its authors. The fund will be overseen by Marcus Chait, who currently runs Author Solutions' film and new media department, and, through the fund, the company will identify books it thinks are ideal for adapting to the screen, acquire dramatic rights to those titles and then invest in developing a screenplay to ultimately sell to a production company.
The fund, said Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss, grew out of the company's growing footprint in Hollywood. After hiring Chait about 18 month ago to work on developing trailers to promote titles by the company's authors, Weiss said the company started doing more treatments and coverage for clients. "We were listening to what our authors wanted and they kept asking for access to people in the film industry," Weiss noted.
After announcing a first-look deal with Principal Entertainment, Weiss said the company decided to start the fund to finance, in-house, the development of screenplays. Weiss said what Author Solution is doing is not dissimlar to a publisher optioning book rights. And, to date, both Macmillan and Random House have started in-house film departments to either option and then farm out film rights (in the case of Macmillan Films) to its titles, or co-produce (in the case of Random Hosue Films) projects.
How is Author Solutions selecting titles for its film fund? Weiss said one project is already in the works--the company would not yet release the name of the book it has optioned--and that, moving forward, editors will "flag" titles they think might work as films. "We have a lot of people looking at every book that comes through, and they will raise it up the ladder for us to see." Weiss also said the company has done thousands of treatments already, and those could come into play for future projects.
Speaking to the current deal, Weiss said the author involved did have an agent, but would not release any other details. Weiss also said that the company will be looking at both new titles and "backlist" titles as it finds projects for the film fund.