Raising Money For Your Movie from Investors

I had a request from one of my blawg readers for an article about the laws related to raising money for films and what can happen if you don’t follow them. Here it is.

(NOTE: What follows is a very brief discussion about raising money from investors. If you’re borrowing money, know that loans are not securities and are not governed by securities laws. Legally loans are simpler, but it is much harder for independent filmmakers to get someone to lend them money for a film.)

What are Securities?

First of all, you need to be aware that raising money from investors is governed by securities laws. A “security” exists when a person has invested value in a common enterprise with an expectation of profit derived from the efforts of others. Continue reading Raising Money For Your Movie from Investors →

© Keith E. Cooper. All rights reserved. You may freely link to this post, but please do not copy (in whole or in part) without permission of the copyright owner.

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Submitting Material to Film And Television Companies

I often get calls from people who ask me if I will submit material for them. Typically, this is because someone at a studio or network has told them that material is accepted only through attorneys and agents.

The short answer: “No,” I don’t submit unsolicited material.

Perhaps, I should qualify this. Of course, I will send material on behalf of an existing client to someone who has requested it. I do this for my client’s protection as a means of creating a traceable paper trail that shows the recipient received the material through me, as a witness.

While studio executives don’t usually steal ideas from submissions they receive, Continue reading Submitting Material to Film And Television Companies →

© Keith E. Cooper. All rights reserved. You may freely link to this post, but please do not copy (in whole or in part) without permission of the copyright owner.

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Using Snippets of Music in Your Film

I had a question from a reader recently about whether it is permissible for a filmmaker to use a “small segment” of commercially released music without a license.

My first reaction to a question like this is to make a few quick assumptions about the type of use this filmmaker has in mind and simply say, “no,” but actually it depends upon the film and the music.

The Concept of “Fair Use”

United States Copyright law (in 17 U.S.C. § 107) contains a provision for “fair use of a copyrighted work” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. This provision, among other things, Continue reading Using Snippets of Music in Your Film →

© Keith E. Cooper. All rights reserved. You may freely link to this post, but please do not copy (in whole or in part) without permission of the copyright owner.

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Attachments to Screenplays

You’ve probably heard people throw around the word “attachment.” But what is an attachment? It depends on who you’re talking to.

To most people in business or academics, an attachment is a second document that is appended to a main document. To people in the motion picture industry, however, an “attachment” is a person. But not just any person.

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. Continue reading Attachments to Screenplays →

© Keith E. Cooper. All rights reserved. You may freely link to this post, but please do not copy (in whole or in part) without permission of the copyright owner.

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Why does a Filmmaker need a Lawyer?

First, let me clarify that when I use the term “filmmaker” in this blog, I mean a person who creates an audiovisual work, whether the medium is film, video, or an electronic format. My remarks are also directed to screenwriters, whom I think of as “filmmakers” in the broadest sense.

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 Continue reading Why does a Filmmaker need a Lawyer? →

© Keith E. Cooper. All rights reserved. You may freely link to this post, but please do not copy (in whole or in part) without permission of the copyright owner.

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How Attorneys Fees are Determined and Etiquette in Dealing with Attorneys

Most attorneys offer a short consultation with potential new clients to see if the subject matter and client fit their law practice. You should expect to be honest and open about your legal problem, and answer any questions the attorney asks you about the matter and other people involved. Attorneys need to know who else is involved so they can avoid conflicts of interests with their existing clients.

A few attorneys will even answer general legal questions. This should not be interpreted as an invitation to call more than once and ask additional questions. The second phone call should be to notify the attorney that you want to hire him (if you have not done so already) and arrange the details.

Don’t be offended if the attorney says ‘no’ to accepting you as a client—there are Continue reading How Attorneys Fees are Determined and Etiquette in Dealing with Attorneys →

© Keith E. Cooper. All rights reserved. You may freely link to this post, but please do not copy (in whole or in part) without permission of the copyright owner.

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Welcome! Introducing the Production Counsel Blawg

Greetings! Welcome to the Production Counsel blawg. I invite you to join me as I embark on an adventure: exploring the finer points of the law of the motion picture industry.

You probably noticed that blog is spelled differently from what you may be accustomed to seeing on other Internet sites. This isn’t a mistake, I didn’t invent this spelling, and it’s not an affectation I contrived. “Blawg” is a term given to a web log written by a legal professional on legal topics. The term was first used years ago when the first lawyers took to the Internet to write web logs to share information with their attorney colleagues. Perhaps they created this term to distinguish their writings from general blogs written for a lay readership. Continue reading Welcome! Introducing the Production Counsel Blawg →

© Keith E. Cooper. All rights reserved. You may freely link to this post, but please do not copy (in whole or in part) without permission of the copyright owner.

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