Whether you are an Actor, Writer, Director, Showrunner, or Executive Producer, the day you are offered an overall deal or first look is truly a sign that you have made it in the entertainment industry. These deals are lucrative for content creators who are no longer just being paid for the specific show they were hired to work on, but rather they are now receiving an upfront fee and annual fee, along with additional writing or producing fees when the network/studio picks up anything with their name connected to it throughout the term of their deal. So what is the difference between the two?
An overall deal is the king of all deals. This is where the real money is made. In an overall deal, content creators must exclusively develop all of their material under the network/studio they have a contract with. The downfall to an overall deal though is that typically the content that is created under the deal remains the intellectual property of the network/studio when the deal term finishes, i.e., shows that are not green lighted don't go with the creator when his/her overall deal ends. That's why these deals are so lucrative because in reality, most shows never get picked up and turned into a series. Additionally, overall deals are usually only made for television.
Typically, first look deals are negotiated with production companies rather than individuals; however, that does not mean that individuals are never given the opportunity to sign a first look deal. The key difference between a first look and an overall deal is that with a first look, the content creator generally retains the copyright to the material that they created rather than the network/studio owning it. The network/studio is given the right of first refusal. If the network/studio turns down the creative content, then the content creator is free to shop the material elsewhere and try to get it picked up.
Since most shows are never picked up and turned into a series, receiving one of these deals can be very profitable for content creators. Several Hollywood elites who have an overall or first look deal include, Donald Glover with FX Productions, Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes with Netflix, and Leonardo DiCaprio with Paramount to name a few.