Film Industry Contracts for Every Stage of a Film Production

Film Industry Contracts for Every Stage of a Film Production

Throughout any film or television production there are bound to be a variety of different legal contracts. As well as agreements that come up at each stage of the production. In fact, it’s business as usual for a filmmaker. To request various signed agreements at each important production phase. From pre-production through distribution. Film industry contracts represent the best means. Ensuring that agreements made between the various parties involved in the production process are properly documented. To prevent any potential misunderstandings later on.

contract agreement

At Beverly Boy Productions, we realize that the amount of documentation required for a typical film production project to progress from pre-production through to distribution can be overwhelming.

Especially for someone that’s entirely new to the industry. Or who hasn’t ever been involved in the production of a film being created with the intent to distribute.

Film Industry Contracts for Pre-Production

Pre-production represents the period of time leading up to the actual filming of a film or television media project.

During pre-production a variety of steps and tasks take place. Including the planning and procuring of cast, crew, and a filming location. As well as procuring rights to a script, story, or other intellectual property. That will be in use for the basis of producing a film.

Throughout this process, film industry contracts and agreements are vital! Everything from copyright licenses and option agreements. To script or screenplay purchase agreements must be.

In order not only to ensure that the filmmaker doesn’t later face any lawsuits for copyright infringement. But also because these will be part of what is known in the film industry as a “chain of title”. Which is required for distribution of the film once production is finalized. 

The following film industry contracts and agreements are likely to come up during the pre-production process:

  • The Filing of Official Articles of Incorporation – a Film LLC which proves that the feature film is its own business entity with limited liability which protects the producer, production company or other partners involved in the production from any lawsuits that may occur. 
  • Writer Work for Hire Agreements & Collaboration Agreements – these are agreements made between the production company or the film LLC and the writer or group of writers who actually write the script or who otherwise produce content for the film.
  • Option & Purchase Agreements – these are contracts that are entered into between original script writers or copyright holders such as book authors. When a producer decides to purchase the rights to a script. Or the rights to a story that a script can be written based on. An option agreement is entered first and later a purchase agreement.
  • Investor Agreements, Bank Financing Agreements & Loan Notes – these are required from anyone that provides financing or investment capital for the production. 

Film Industry Contracts for Production

During the actual filming of your project there are going to be a lot of film industry contracts and agreements. Which must be obtained from cast and crew prior to the shoot.

While you might think you can backtrack and get signatures after the fact. It’s always advisable to get your signed releases and agreements upfront.

This includes working with actors to obtain “work for hire” contracts and performance release forms. As well as various other documentation at the time of the film shoot.

The following film industry contracts and agreements are likely to come up during the production process:

  • Location Agreements, Lease or Rental Agreements & Location Releases – these are incredibly important contracts which represent agreements made between the production company and the location owner delegating the time, location, and activities that may be performed at a particular location. They also outline agreements regarding the use of footage filmed at a location. How reshoots will be handled. And steps for dealing with unforeseen circumstances. 
  • Actor or Talent Release Forms – these are required from ALL actors that are involved in the production regardless of how little or how much time they spend on set or how big or how small their role is in the film.
  • Employment Agreements – these are required for all talent and crew that are employed by the production company and will be working on the film. They outline details of employment. Including proposed employment dates, pay rates. And how things like sick days or overtime will be handled. 
  • Stunt Performer Agreements & Release Forms – these should be obtained from anyone involved in performing stunts as part of the production and must include the release allowing the production company to include footage of the stunt within the film.
  • Crew Deal Memos – these provide information on the agreements made between crew members between the production company and include salary or compensation information and work requirements.
  • Makeup and Special Effects Agreements – these include the detailed agreements made between producer and the artists involved in makeup and special effects for the film as well as necessary release forms to allow the producer to maintain rights.

Film Industry Contracts for Post Production

As the film shoot wraps and the project progresses into the editing phase. There will be continued need for film industry contracts and agreements. Editors, composers, and distributors will be the focus for most contract agreements at this stage of the production.

Much like the “Work-for-hire” agreements that were entered between the production company and script writer early on. So too will these agreements likely come up in post-production between the production company and the editors.

These, and other contracts will be integral to the final working parts of your production.

The following film industry contracts and agreements are bound to come up during the post-production process:

  • Editor “work-for-hire” Contracts – these as well as release forms will enable the producer to maintain ownership of the final edited film product as it nears distribution.
  • Music Licenses, Clearances & Sync Agreements – as sounds and music clips are added into the final production these contracts will be integral to maintaining a clean chain of title and avoiding any potential copyright infringement.
  • Composer Agreements – common particularly in low-budget films, the compose agreement is one of several post-production contracts that are likely to come up.
  • Distribution agreements – these agreements are likely to come up between a producer and a film broadcaster or distributor representing the terms of distribution and transfer of rights from producer to the distributor.
  • Merchandising Agreements – Often included with the distribution agreements, merchandising agreements outline the terms of transferring rights for the purpose of selling trademarked merchandise relative to the film.

In Summary

As you can see, when it comes to film industry contracts and the various agreements. That are set forth over the duration of a typical film production there’s a lot to keep track of.

Most of these contracts and agreements are to be written and reviewed by an entertainment attorney prior to them being used. 

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