I often receive calls from creatives with business and legal questions about their project. Many thinly funded project leaders balk when they find out that an attorney (including yours truly) charges from $375 per hour and up – to negotiate deals or assist with disputes, draft entertainment or business contracts or settlements, do copyright or life rights clearance work, assist in obtaining life rights and rights of publicity, file Trademark applications, work on some other intellectual property issue or problem or handle the myriad other needs that are necessary to: develop and produce a film, TV project, pilot, or reality program; develop a smartphone app or game; protect music and publishing rights; protect, option or sell a script; sell photographs, etc., etc., etc.
While I sympathize with the thinly funded creative project, the fact is the creative can’t afford NOT to hire an attorney to do what is needed. A few examples:
– a group of friends decide to write a script and develop a film, and shoot a sizzle reel to help raise money to produce the project. Problems presented? Without a legal structure such as an LLC or corporation, they may all be subject to personal liability if anyone sues… for anything; without proper contracts, the rights to the script, dialog, characters, plot, art direction, costumes, special effects, footage, sound recordings, talent’s performances are not vested in – that is, “owned” by – any single person or entity — meaning the rights to the various content are so split and fractured the project likely can NEVER be used by anyone for a commercial purpose. Or perhaps ANY purpose, commercial or not.
– a writer bases a script on a real person for whom the writer does not have the “life rights.” Problem? After toiling away for months or years on the script, the writer can’t do ANYTHING with the script until that little “life rights” issue is taken care of.
– adaptation of a preexisting work – a book, comic, film, or riff on someone else’s intellectual property. Same problem – without getting the rights to adapt the prior work, he who is doing the adapting can’t do ANYTHING with the work product until working out that little “adaptation rights” issue.
There are thousands of variations to these and similar scenarios.
In the attempt to save perhaps as little as a few hundred dollars on legal advice or properly drafted contracts, the creative has wasted months or years of their own time, and potentially the time and effort of all those working on the project as well.
And pulling random contracts off the internet is equally effective. The non-entertainment attorney has little concept of what they are NOT getting via the “free” internet contract. Omissions from the “free” contract may be TERMINAL to a project – but that may not be realized until far down the line, after hours and weeks and months – or years, of blood, sweat and tears.
Don’t skimp on legal advice and properly drafted agreements.
Get the needed advice and legal work at the outset of the project.
I will happily accept credit card payment for the help you need. Many other entertainment attorneys will as well.
So what do entertainment attorneys cost? A small price, considering their involvement may mean the difference between being able to utilize and prosper from your project, versus having wasted a wealth of time, effort, and creativity.
If I may be of assistance in the development of your entertainment, media, video game or app project, or in the development and growth of your business, please call or email at your convenience.
- What do movie producers do? (gointothestory.blcklst.com)