So you’re ready to start production on your own film, your very own film. Now, the best way to do this is to start to shift your mindset and understand the business of the arts. This means that you must incorporate contracts to protect your creative work. These three contracts will help you establish legal structures to ensure protection of your creative work:
1. Deal Memo
Deal Memos are contracts for crew. A Deal Memo usually identifies:
the type of production you’re working,
the name of the production,
the length of the production,
the production company,
the role of the crew member,
the compensation for the work .
A Deal Memo is necessary to establish the professional relationship between the crew and the production.
2. Talent Release Form
A talent release form authorizes the use of the talent, the actor, the background, in the production.
This agreement allows the full use of the talent within the production wit full authorization and permission from the talent. If the talent is underage, then the parent or legal guardian must sign the talent release form.
Now you might be wondering, Well, why do we need a talent agreement if we’re talking about documentary films? Now, talent is not only the actor that is being used within a production, but it would also be the voice over actor. So let’s say for example, the production employs a voice over actor to narrate the film, for example, then that narrator will need to sign a talent release form.
3. Life Rights Agreement (or Life Story Agreement)
This agreement allows a filmmaker to develop a story based on a person and use their likeness, their name, and additional information, to be able to assist you in the creation of the story. The agreement memorializes your rights to use the person’s life for creative purposes.
This is something that is very, very frequently used. Because, documentary filmmaking will take a subject right and will take a person and explore that person or explore a group of people.
The three contracts are the foundation for beginning to set the legal foundation for a creative project. Always consult with a licensed attorney if you have any questions.
Elektra Yao is the managing attorney and founder of Yao Law Group. She loves working with artists and is a recognized leader for O-1 visas. Visit yaolawgroup.com for more information.