The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers
A Legal Toolkit for Independent Producers
This no-nonsense reference helps independent filmmakers recognize and solve the critical legal issues they might face throughout the course of making a film.
Author Thomas A. Crowell, TV producer turned entertainment lawyer, will help you to understand and negotiate crucial production contracts, handle actors and their agents, and navigate the perils of copyright infringement and other lawsuits. Updated throughout to address important changes to the law, and incorporating discussion of online distribution, crowd funding, social media marketing, and international productions, this expanded third edition will provide you with the skills to:
- Protect the copyright to your work.
- Finance your film and watch out for common financing traps.
- Understand how tax credits and other incentives are used in film financing.
- Work with other screenwriters, and protect your script ideas.
- Adapt a book or comic into a screenplay.
- Know how to spot the difference between copyright infringement and fair use.
- Hire crew members, actors, and post-production staff.
- Draft a production services agreement or a license to use someone else’s work.
- License music for soundtracks.
- Negotiate a distribution agreement or understand how to distribute your film alone.
- Learn how to best position your film for Netflix.
- Make money from YouTube.
And much more!
Written for accessibility and ease of reference, this book is a vital resource for any student or independent filmmaker wanting their films to be successful and free of legal disasters.
Table of Contents
Part 1. Introduction
Part 2. Legal Building Blocks: Contract and Intellectual Property
1. Copyright and Intellectual Property
2. The Contract Engine
Part 3. The Production Company and Financing Your Movie
3. Setting Up the Production Company
4. Your Professional Team
5. Financing Your Movie
6. Film Tax Credits and Other Production Incentives
Part 4. Development: Creating, Acquiring, and Managing the Film Property
7. Idea Rights: Protecting Your Pitches and Avoiding Idea "Theft"
8. Creating a Screenplay
9. Acquiring Screenplay Rights
10. Chain of Title: The Care and Feeding of Your Copyright
Part 5. Pre-Production
11. Production Services & Co-Productions
12. Product Placement & Sponsorship
13. Hiring Cast and Crew: Federal and State Labor and Employment Laws
14. Above the Line: Producers and Directors
15. Below the Line: Crew Services Agreements
Part 6. Production
17. Extras and Depiction Releases
19. On-set IP Infringement
Part 7. Post-Production
20. Post-Production Staff
22. Film Clips and Stock Footage
23. Credits and Copyright Notice
Part 8. Distribution
24. Preparing for Distribution
25. Theatrical Distribution
26. Putting Your Film Online
Part 9. Conclusion
Appendix A: A Filmmaker’s Guide to Intellectual Property Law
Appendix B: The Clause Companion
Bibliography and Resources
Thomas A. Crowell, Esq., is a practicing lawyer and law professor specializing in entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues. He is the editor of the Focal Press Pocket Lawyer series and author of The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators (Focal Press, 2014). For more information, see www.ThomasCrowell.com
"…an excellent, potentially career-saving resource." – Back Stage Magazine