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Entertainment Agreements

Articles that discuss legal agreements in the entertainment industry.

Entertainment Contracts: Part Two–Clauses to Include

In my last blog article, I wrote about the basics of every contract. But there are a few other clauses that should be in every entertainment contract, although these are sometimes overlooked. Here is a brief (and I emphasize the word brief) description of some of those paragraphs that should be included. As always, for […]

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Entertainment Contracts: Part One–the Basics

Form contracts, especially those in books, are not meant to be used by anyone. They are samples of fictitious ideal transactions which don’t exist. They’re meant to show the types of things that go into an agreement, but not necessarily your agreement.

Many of the agreements you get from friends were not written, or even reviewed, by an attorney. Most of them are not written correctly, do not make sense, and do not apply to your situation. They are passed from filmmaker to filmmaker and their errors are perpetuated or magnified if someone decides to make a “little” change in the wording. This article talks about the basics of what a good contract needs to contain.

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Understanding Entertainment Contracts: Deliverables

In the context of a distribution agreement, deliverables are the materials that a distributor needs in order to release the film. It might include a negative from which to make prints for theatrical release, or it might be a color corrected video version for television broadcast or DVD release.

Deliverables also include publicity materials, such as photographs, biographical materials, and perhaps behind-the-scenes footage.

Whatever the form of your other deliverables, you will always need to deliver the legal documentation proving that you own all the elements of your picture.

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Options in the Motion Picture and Television Industries

In the financial industries, there are two broad types of options (which Black’s Law Dictionary defines generally as “the right of election to exercise a privilege.” One is the right to buy something in the future at a price you fix today, which Wall Street types term a “call.” The other broad category of option is the right to sell something in the future for a price you fix today, which financial investors term a “put.” There are variations on these two broad categories.

In motion pictures, it’s usually the first type people are talking about when they say “option.”

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Attachments to Screenplays

In simple terms, an attachment is someone (other than a writer) who has become involved with developing a screenplay to production and must be hired when production begins. When someone in the movie business says there is an attachment to a script, this is usually what they’re talking about. Usually, attachments are made because the script is good, but the writer is unable to get it to the “right people.” The “attachment agreement” can be a simple writing between the parties to record their mutual understanding of what is being promised.

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Why does a Filmmaker need a Lawyer?

Filmmakers need lawyers to advise them on their rights, protect those rights, and make sure those rights are accurately documented.

One of the saddest things I see in my practice is a filmmaker with a completed project who can’t sell it because the legal documentation isn’t correct. Why is this sad? Because it’s completely preventable.

Let me share with you one of the most important principles of professional film making: It doesn’t matter how good your movie is, if your legal work isn’t right, you don’t have a film to sell. (NOTE: if you’re making a home movie you plan to never show to the public, legal documentation is far less important.)

Why?

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Welcome! Introducing the Production Counsel Blawg

Discusses the meaning of the word “blawg”, how the Production Counsel Blawg came about, and the dangers of not having a lawyer review entertainment agreements. Includes a biographical introduction to the blog’s author.

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