Tom Deedy was a writer from Connecticut who had been working with Scott Ferguson for a couple of years when we met him. The surprising thing was, he had no contract with Scott when ShadowHawk contacted him regarding his television pilot RIVER STREET, and it could be a contract conflict that would finally end our association with ShadowHawk, and Mr. Deedy’s as well. This is the first letter Anthony wrote him, and his response;
Dear Mr. Deedy;
I am writing to you regarding your RIVER STREET series. Scott Ferguson of White Tiger Entertainment submitted these materials to us in 2002 for consideration. We had worked many hours on discussing the project with possible investors. Scott removed RIVER STREET from our offices in July of 2004 on what I now know was the advice of Brian Eustace.
I met Brian Eustace in 1998, however, over our six-year business association, Cathal Byrne, my Chief Executive, insisted that I keep Brian at arm’s length as he felt Brian would try to take command of our operations and not advise us. Therefore, I told Brian very little of what w were doing. In 2004 Brian and I parted company after he refused to contact a producer at a major studio, and we lost a possible investor. At this time Scott was made to believe (so I think) that we were incapable and asked to take RIVER STREET from us, which he did.
Yesterday the 1st of February, 2006, Scott asked us to take on RIVER STREET again. I believe he is doing so because he now believes that Brian will not offer your project any input just as he never did any of ours. While Brian is capable of producing a good film, he only wishes to pursue his own projects.
In 2003 Brian hired me to be his second assistant director on a film called Redemption. The only reason he offered me this part was because he could not get anyone else. However, he was very lucky that he did hire me, because the first assistant director he hired was incapable of completing his tasks and if not for me and the contacts I have, Brian’s film would have suffered great loss in relation to actors, props and locations. At one point I booked Brian a beautiful graveyard to shoot his funeral scene, and had to abandon the idea after he refused to pay insurance. This led to the use of a field for that scene.
To this day, Brian has believed we are incapable of doing anything, yet we have provided numerous services for film, television, animation, music, graphic and website design. As I said before, I told Brian very little for fear of losing control of our business and the small business he offered was only because he badly needed us. I am not trying to give you a bad impression of Brian, however, he didn’t recognize our talent because he didn’t want to look beyond his own capability. I am sure if I had brought Brian in on all my business dealings that they would have suffered somewhat, as Brian would possibly have used my information and contacts to pursue his own endeavors. Before we consider whether or not to take on RIVER STREET again, I would like to give you the opportunity to give me your thoughts. Thank you for your time.
Regards, Anthony Whelan
Dear Mr. Whelan;
This is the first I’ve heard of any of this. I remember something about ShadowHawk a few years back, yes. Anyway, I have complete ownership of the RIVER STREET material, being the original creator and writer. I have no current contract with Scott Ferguson or White Tiger Films, but I think Scott’s an ok guy, and has been dedicated to the project. I will pay you the compliment of being blunt and let you know that Brian is quite ill, in and out of hospital.
The RIVER STREET series is an opportunity to make one hour episodic television, a dramatic and entertaining series. I have a 20-page treatment which describes where the project’s at currently as well as the pilot script, called “The Sweet Little Scam”, which I can send you as a pdf document.
Please check out www.tomdeedy.com for details of my cinematic endeavors. The countenance and demeanor of the River Street series would be very well served by shooting in Ireland. In any event, Please let me know if you’re interested in the RIVER STREET series and the pilot episode, “The Sweet Little Scam”. I look forward to hearing from you.
Best Regards, Tom Deedy
Dear Mr. Deedy;
Thank you for your e-mail. Scott has asked ShadowHawk to arrange financing for RIVER STREET and then hand it over to him so he and Brian can pursue it. I know about Brian’s illness; a friend in the industry informed me. I understand if you have a business relationship with Mr. Eustace, but please also understand that we terminated our business dealings with Mr. Eustace because he did not pursue our projects in a professional manner. I have met many people in the business who feel the same way I do regarding Brian.
At the time we parted business relations, Brian told Scott her left us and that we are basically fools. I have no physical proof of this, I just know Brian said it because that’s why Scott took RIVER STREET from us. I am willing to consider pursuing RIVER STREET again, however please understand that should ShadowHawk gain financing for RIVER STREET you will obviously have control within that agreement; however, we will not work with Brian Eustace again, therefore he will have no involvement in RIVER STREET should we gain financing. If you agree to this, then please let me know and we can talk regarding our pursuing development of RIVER STREET.
Sincerely, Anthony Whelan
Of course, it’s my story, and I never knew that Brian Eustace was as involved as it sounds. He never said anything bad about guys to me. Really, I only chatted with him a handful of times, and that was a couple of years ago. He has no contractual obligations with me, nor does Scott. No one knows the material better than I do, because I created it; in fact, developed some of the characters at the world renowned Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center here in my hometown of Waterford. I am an admirer of yur Abbey Theatre and have been there several times, though not recently.
RIVER STREET is a tale which has darkness but also bright, illuminating flashes which illustrate what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the better angels of our nature’. Rest assured, I am sole owner, creator, etc. I’m only interested in making and telling stories which have some import or slant on our contemporary dilemma. I also believe in fun. Recently, I worked directing Lynn Britt, an older actress who has worked with Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day Lewis and Jeremy Irons at The Old Vic in London. She said my set was the most fun and well-run set she’s every been on. I strive to work in the same fashion as a writer, taking input from collaborators. I believe in the ensemble.
I have a background in the heavy construction industry as a road builder and an excavating contractor. Currently, I am in charge of everything underground in Hartford, Connecticutt and points west for ATT, Ma Bell, a.k.a. the telephone company. I have been writing for a long time and have been around some great writers, including the late, great August Wilson. Sir Harold Pinter was playwright in residence at the Square Repertory Company during our Tony Award winning season – I was an actor of 22 then, working with America’s best acting company. Enough about me; I just wanted to let you know a little about me and my passion for the work, the evolving and the ongoing process. So I hope you share my passion for telling important stories, and love to get RIVER STREET rolling.
My policy is to mention in advance that should we decide to do the gig, my entertainment attorney is Mark Beigelman of Kaufmann, Feiner, Yamin and Robbins, 777 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017. He handles the business for me.
As you can tell, my province is the artistic end, the writing especially. I know my way around a set, and I view the filmmaking process as a parallel to the heavy construction industry. In both, you move equipment and people to a site and do something to get something done. I also venerate the special quality that actors bring to the table. That said, I look forward to exchanging ideas about the project.
Anthony discussed the situation with us; he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in taking on RIVER STREET unless we were involved in the writing of the series and the outline for the first season. We were interested, although at this point we still had no idea what RIVER STREET was actually about, or that we would love the concept, the pilot, and become friends with Tom Deedy.
Anthony was also unwilling to include Scott in the RIVER STREET plans, and at that time I agreed with him, since Scott had elected to keep RIVER STREET with Brian Eustace for two years after ShadowHawk severed their association with him. On February 8th Anthony wrote this letter to Scott;
ShadowHawk Films and Lost Myths Ink have decided to pursue development of RIVER STREET. However, since you are refusing to cut your business relationship with Brian in relation to this project we are pursuing the RIVER STREET series with Tom Deedy as an individual which according to Mr. Deedy he can do as the sole owner of the project. Therefore, should we secure production for this project, Shadowhawk/UFPI will co-produce the project with Mr. Deedy and Brian and you will have no involvement. Thank you for your time.
Kind Regards, Anthony Whelan
It wasn’t to be expected that Scott would like this development; unfortunately, he had allowed his option on RIVER STREET to lapse and Tom Deedy didn’t elect to renew it, so Scott legally had no claim to RIVER STREET. The only thing I could do at that point was be certain he was compensated in some way, if we were involved in RIVER STREET.
Frank Cmero hadn’t yet given up, even though we had given up on him and his nonexistent funding. Cathal received this letter on February 15th:
I explained to you the situation with the investors in my previous email. There is nothing I can add or change. I cannot control their actions or influence their decisions. However, there was some positive development in the last couple of weeks. Ian left for Germany on Wednesday and it is expected we will finally receive the loan from there. I have confirmation from a couple of independent sources (including Australian lawyers) that all companies will receive their loans. It means Milan’s company in Slovakia will get his money as well. I am expecting to hear from Ian the beginning of the week with the confirmation of the date of disbursement.
The second investor already prepared a loan agreement, and it is expected we will receive our funds by the end of March. If we proceed with any of the above scenarios we will have the money to pay Deb for development. I will keep you updated after I hear more from Germany.
On February 20th Anthony wrote me a short note to say Cathal would be meeting with the Pyramid Corporation producer regarding the acquisition of RIVER STREET. On the 21st Cathal wrote a short note to Anthony with a copy to me, saying that he was approving the presentation Alan prepared for Pyramid, and would be presenting it to producer David Elliott. Also on the 21st Anthony wrote us a longer letter. This is it:
This email is highly confidential, and I would appreciate if the information I am imparting is kept in such a manner. As you know, ShadowHawk deals with the development of film projects, and over the past two years Alan and I have been pursuing a number of studios for our developments. A major studio has expressed an interest in one of our developments, but please remember that they can unexpress the interest a quickly as they gained it. If, however, they decide to move forward with the project it would mean a serious amount for ShadowHawk. The money includes the writers’ fees and agent management fees. However, there will be a considerable amount that will go to the ShadowHawk account. Should we make this sale, if Lost Myths Ink are still in financial trouble, then Cathal and I will discuss the possibility of a business loan agreement with promotional plans that should help stabilize your finances. Until such time, please keep the contents of this mail quiet. Please email or phone directly should have you have any questions regarding. Thank you for your time.
Regards, Anthony Whelan
Since there was no actual information contained in that confusing letter, we wondered who Anthony thought we might tell, and what we would tell them if we did. It should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, to know we never heard anything further on that particular carrot.
The RIVER STREET presentation went to David Elliott at The Pyramid Corporation. Even though we’d heard the name of the corporation mentioned before this, the producer was new to us. This letter came on the 23rd, and it made us wonder why Anthony and Cathal hadn’t thought to submit any of our scripts to David Elliott.
Cathal and I were talking yesterday and we really believe that we should have sent a lot of our materials to David Elliott in the past. However, at present he has RIVER STREET, and let’s hope he pursues it. David has not done a lot of work in television for approximately four years, I believe. Before ULTRA VIOLET he has involved in FOUR BROTHERS. He operates as a writer, producer, and director. 90% of his involvement is with projects backed by Pyramid. Should David decide to take RIVER STREET and gets the financing for it, he will most likely produce it himself. From what I also understand David must involve one of the production companies he is listed with as a requirement of Pyramid involvement. These include, I believe, Screen Gems, Paramount, Davis Films, Constantine Films (UK) Ltd and many more. More than likely the company that becomes involved with handle its’ production, however we will be including the following:
David Elliott Productions
David Elliott, Producer
ShadowHawk Films (Eire)
Cathal Byrne, Executive Producer
Alan McNamara, Executive in Charge of Production
Saidbh Byrne, Director of Legal and Business Affairs
Martin White, Co-Producer
Brian Tracy, Music
Lost Myths Ink:
Thomas Brandenburg, Associate Producer
Debora Hill, Executive Story Editor/Writer
Sandra Brandenburg, Senior Script Editor/Writer
White Tiger Entertainment/Scott Ferguson (what will we make him?)
Cathal’s job as Executive Producer will be to deal with our fees for the production. Alan’s job is he will be the head executive for our involvement and will ensure we do our jobs. My job will be to work closely with David whether I am a producer or Executive Producer, and I will have some control on-set. Saidbh’s job will be to secure our contracts and ensure payment and rights as stated. She will work closely with our solicitor and yours. Martin will oversee in-house development and report to me. Brian will, I hope, compose all music required for the series. We hope to produce the music here in Ireland and Brian Tracy Recording Studios, and also gain control of any soundtrack rights.
Thomas will be the executive for Lost Myths Ink working closely with Martin to ensure quality and development time-keeping. Debora will work with Tom Deedy as a writer for the scripts and will also be the head of the script department. Sandra will also work with Tom Deedy as a writer for the scripts and she will give all scripts a final edit before being passed onto the producers.
Please let me know your thoughts on this as soon as possible. Thank you.
My first thought upon receiving this letter was ‘well, right...why the hell didn’t you send this guy any of our scripts?’ So I wrote back to Anthony and suggested that it wasn’t too late to do that, but apparently it was. On March 2nd he wrote to Anthony to tell him he would be interested in producing RIVER STREET, but didn’t want to read anything else until it was launched. So once again we’d been pushed into the background and would be working instead on someone’s else’s project. At least, we might be.
David Elliott said,
I have looked over the breakdown plan and I think it all will be very possible should I proceed with the project. I now need a breakdown of the budget plan. Cost of jobs, production, location, props, cast, crew etc. Please send it to me as soon as possible. Thank you.
It was decided we would charge $25,000 for each episode we wrote for the first season and $50,000 for development and editing work. Anthony offered Scott an Associate Producer credit and $25,000 for bringing them RIVER STREET, and he agreed. But that $25,000 was only for the series pilot, and naturally Scott wanted more if the series was picked up for a network. He sent Anthony this letter:
I agree to the Associate Producer credit and the $25K free for the series pilot. But, if you are successful in selling a series based on the RIVER STREET pilot, I would ask ShadowHawk and Pyramid to agree to continue my Associate Producer credit to any/all series episodes and, at that time, to re-negotiate my Associate Producer contract to meet the usual or standard credit and fee parameters within the film/television industry and the nature of the buyer as a Network, Showrunner, Distributor, Production Company and/or major or minor studio. Travel expenses must be reimbursable or covered under the budget.
And just a note for consideration, if you gain financing, you should allow for immediate disbursement of ‘set-up’ fees on everyone’s contract involved. That is usually around $2.5K at contact signing.
It wasn’t to be thought that Anthony or Cathal would accept Scott’s request without some insulting input, if at all. The communication between the men involved in our business were all butting heads, and it would eventually be the downfall of us and ShadowHawk. Now Anthony wrote back to Scott with a letter that was no surprise to any of us.
I will pass this email onto Cathal, I note however that I am a professional producer and David Elliott, Cathal and myself have produced feature films for international distribution (uh...when?) And do not need to be told how to arrange a contract signing. This sort of information should be given to a man who goes on like he is the greatest thing in the business but hasn’t had a commission in years.
And of course Cathal had to weigh in as well...
I think once again you are trying to push yourself into a position you can’t. We are not offering you $25,000 for the pilot. The $25,000 is for you to be a concept development assistant over the period of the first series which is set to be 13 episodes. We feel as do others that this is a very reasonable price for what you will be doing.
I will, when the time comes, discuss a contract signing fee with all parties involved.
And Scott had to respond to Cathal’s letter. At this point we weren’t even weighing in; it all seemed like an exercise in riding an endless ferris wheel until we all threw up.
I agree to $25,000 for the Associate Producer work on the RIVER STREET series pilot.
However, I must reserve the right to have an experienced entertainment counsel (Peter Landes) review the contract and add (as he may see required) a contract addendum or other contract revision to meet industry standards for my fee and credit for my continuing work with concept development over the period of the following 13 episodes.
Immediately following the disbursement of the contract set-up fee, I will be contacting Peter Landes to examine and represent all my contracts.
Thank you, Debora, for suggesting a $5,000 fee for each episode. Peter may well see that as reasonable. But I must have his counsel examine the contract fee and credit for the added 13 episodes. This is not at all unreasonable.
The posturing continued for weeks, and we had still not even read the pilot for RIVER STREET. Cathal’s next letter to Scott racheted up the insults.
Just as the United States does not negotiate with terrorists, we do not negotiate with deceitful people. Therefore, at this time all we are willing to offer you is an Associate Producer credit. Be aware, however, that while you were in control of RIVER STREET when you had a contract with Tom Deedy, when you took RIVER STREET to the great Brian Eustace you killed any chance you had with us.
At present our agreement is directly with Tom Deedy. Out of the kindness of our hearts and the very kind words of Tom Deddy and Debora we are willing to consider you on this project. However, don’t feel you can dictate what you feel is right after all you have done against us.
Therefore, I will discontinue communication with you. If David Elliott decides he wishes to pursue the RIVER STREET project we will have Anthony, our solicitor, David Elliott, the LMI solicitors and David’s solicitor, Debora Hill, Tom Deedy and I will meet in California, where we will discuss what you should be entitled to, and you have my word that this will be your only involvement in this project.
And Scott’s response to this letter, on the 7th of March:
This is what results out of an unfortunate series of events into a clash of personalities. The 25K would have been fine for the pilot, but I must have additional monies per episode, and a sliding scale for anything past 13 episodes. Perhaps dependent upon if a network picks up the series; the $25,000 alone for 13 episodes is not enough.
To be completely honest with you, I could only agree to a contingency clause to the contract that if there are additional episodes, my fee would increase per series. When you have your conference in California, please understand that the industry-wide fee to anyone who ‘brings’ a tv movie to company is between $35K and $50K. As an agent, my fee out of the kindness of my heart is $35K. Without an agent agreement, that fee increases to $50K.
I trust you will keep your word on fairness and abide by the industry standards of upholding these basic fees.
On the 22nd of March Cathal wrote to Scott and included his letter from July of 2004 when Scott removed RIVER STREET from ShadowHawk in order to pursue production with Brian Eustace. I’d known that would haunt Scott throughout the entire production if ShadowHawk controlled it, and now Cathal had decided to pull that card out again and present it in his attempt to push Scott out of the equation.
Once again I have caught you out on your lies. As outlined in the emails below, Anthony mentioned that we had a line on RIVER STREET at the time that you removed it from us. We withheld the name of the investor at that time because we knew you would share information with Eustace and that he would contact the investor himself in order to have him pursue the project with Realt Entertainment. Considering the interest David Elliott has in RIVER STREET, he might very well have accepted that offer.
Following this we tried to have you return RIVER STREET, and you refused, from what we believe was the advise of Mr. Eustace. Due, therefore, to international copyright law we had no option. When we again offered to take one, you refused. Talk the bollocks all you want, but at the end of the day you finally returned to us because you have no one else.
Please also be aware that until a contract is signed, you have no legal binding on this project whatsoever, and that is a fact. You know you made a mistake and are now paying for it. But you advised us of your intentions in 2004. We had stated our intention of getting the financing for RIVER STREET at that time, and you turned us down, and you have lost big time because of it.”
The insult match continued, but we ignored it. Frankly, we knew Cathal and Anthony had a point – Scott had elected to remove RIVER STREET from ShadowHawk after they had been working on it for awhile. But Scott had a point as well; after more than two years, ShadowHawk had not provided us with any operating funds, and between them and Frank Cmero we were rapidly being stripped dry. But in spite of the quarrels the arrangements for production were proceeding. On the 29th of March we received this letter from Anthony:
David Elliott has asked for a breakdown of Irish production for the RIVER STREET series. We will begin work on this tomorrow with the hope of submitting it to him next week. David drew up the American proposal himself and he has agreed that the budget submitted will be fine.
Once he receives the Irish production proposal from us he will submit that along with the American one and the budget to his investors with the hope of securing the financing to make the RIVER STREET pilot.
Tom Deedy, I hope you are well and I would like you to meet Debora Hill, Sandra and Tom Brandenburg, whose emails are above and who will be working on the RIVER STREET series. Debora and Sandra will be working with you on outlining how the first series is going. They will also be writing some episodes. Debora is going to head up the script-writing department. Sandra will be responsible for final editing before the script is sent forward to the production team. Tom is going to be responsible for the time-keeping of the script schedule, ensuing that the episodes are ready by the time required. Tom will be coordinating with Martin White, who will be overseeing everything and operating on-set script changes.
You said you wanted to meet the team and this is one we are going with. You can reach Debora at 707-792-7918 and Sandra and Tom at 707-542-1374 and their email addresses are enclosed. I am sure you will want to get their insight on the series as I am sure they will yours; however, I do not want to push too far ahead as I want to give David’s ideas to the team before starting work.
If anyone has anything to add please do. Tom Deedy, when you get the chance, please telephone me. Thank you.
Regards, Anthony Whelan