What Needs to Be Included in Billing Block for Documentary Film

What Needs to Be Included in Billing Block for Documentary Film?

Documentary filmmakers face several challenges throughout the production process, and all the way up to the distribution of the film. Determining what to include in the billing block is more a challenge now than ever before, as we’re starting to see limitations placed on the number of people that can be credited as “producer” for feature films and there’s a chance that in all likelihood the same limitations could trickle down to documentaries and other projects. Here’s what needs to be included in billing block for documentary film one sheets.

What is the Billing Block?

A billing block is found on posters that are created for live action films as well as for documentaries. You’ve most certainly noticed the billing block for a documentary or feature film.

Before at the bottom of a movie poster that can be seen outside the theater advertising a showing.

In fact, for the average person, the billing block appears more like a haphazard attempt at including a bunch of important names in a minimal space. But it’s so much more!

Block of Names

That block of names located at the bottom of the one sheet or movie poster represents the most detailed legal agreements. And some of the most intense contract negotiations that took place in the production of a film project.

The billing block is nothing short of an amazing showing of negotiations. Between personal contracts of cast and crew. As well as industry wide agreements having been made between major guilds including the DGA, WGA, and others. 

Wording the Billing Block

You might not realize how impactful the words of a billing block can be. But much of the negotiations that take place in defining what needs to be included in billing block for documentary film posters. Or for feature films surrounds the order of inclusion and the specific wording.

Consider This

For example, the word WITH or AND ahead of an actor name is used to show a major actor that is included. But who has a very small, but significant, role in the film.

Likewise, you’ll notice that WITH almost always comes before AND when the billing block is created. If a young actor that is up and coming is included? You might see the word INTRODUCING used in the billing block. 

What Needs to be Included in Billing Block for Documentary Film?

So, now that you know what the billing block is and what the wording means.

Let’s take a look at what needs to be included in the billing block for a documentary film:

  • Opening Credits including the film’s distributor and production credit.
  • Cast including usually the most significant roles in descending order of importance.
  • Crew including CSA members, costume, production design, music, special effects, cinematographer, and DP. 
  • Production credits include executive, associate, and co-producers.
  • Writers including details on where the details came from for the documentary and who wrote the interviews or scripted content.
  • Direction including who directed the documentary, who directed the cinematography, etc.
  • Bugs which represent distribution company logos and production company logos as well as technical partners.
  • Motion Picture Association ratings if the film has been rated or “This film is not yet rated” if not. 

In Summary

As you can see, what needs to be included in billing block for documentary film really depends on contract negotiations, the size and type of production, and negotiations that take place between those involved.

The billing block is an incredibly intricate, powerful, and important area of the one sheet and must not be overlooked. 

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