I was hired recently to write a screenplay. From the very beginning we had a verbal agreement between the producer who is a local man producing this on behalf of someone in another state, and myself that I was to receive a written contract
stipulating that I was to be paid cash in the amount agreed upon. Along the way the producer had some problems and asked if I would hold stock in the company of the out-of-state party (the money party) until he could get cash. I agreed but insisted that I still receive a written contract and that my acceptance of his stock did not change our arraignment that I would be paid in cash. He agreed.
I began writing the screenplay but every couple of weeks called and asked about my contract. Finally it arrived. It wrongly stated that I would accept stock for payment. I called the producer and reiterated my position. He said it was simply a mistake and that he would have the attorney rewrite my contract.
Weeks later the second contract arrived. I was busy, heading out of town and didn’t read it carefully. I signed it and sent it to the producer. Later, on the plane I read it. Although the basic wording said I was to receive cash, in lawyer language, further along, it said if they wanted to give me stock they could.
At my destination I looked up the contracting company, a company in Arizona. All along I was told that this was a reputable production company that had a history in film production. What I found is that the company really didn’t exist. It was not listed with the state as a legal entity, and in fact I could find no history of it in Google.
1. Is it considered fraud to tell someone they are signing a contract with a legal entity that is not a legal entity?
2. Can I be held to this contract simply because I signed it thinking it was a legal entity?
I have broken all ties with this “company” and in fact, after having spent nearly 200 hours working on the project based on a promise of pay, I will be filing a small claims
action to receive promised compensation. I have email proof of our conversations and their understanding that we had a cash deal. Does our verbal contract hold a higher legal position than the two contracts they wrote that were incorrect?