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July 3, 2018

A Legal Primer for Making Indie Movies

By Kelly L. Frey

ALM’s Entertainment Law & Finance

In an article published on Monday, July 2 in ALM’s Entertainment Law & Finance newsletter, Nashville partner Kelly Frey discusses the legal issues associated with film production and the five stages of production attorneys should be familiar with. Movie making is a structured process involving development, pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution. Unfortunately for many filmmakers, it is common for their films to release via “direct-to-video,” Frey details. “And while the goal of every filmmaker is to have one of those coveted 800 slots for commercial release, the expectation of investors in most movies is merely to obtain a return of their capital investment.”

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has a collective bargaining agreement for professional screenwriters to set compensation minimums, payment schedules, “credits” that will appear onscreen, and other standard contract terms. Screenwriters and producers face differing legal tasks with regard to obtaining rights from the WGA agreement. Additionally, Frey expands, “While most legal arguments during post-production have to do with creative control and ‘final cut’ approval as between the director, producer, distributor, etc., the practical work for the attorney is contracting with all of the professionals for their respective services in a sequence and on a timeline/project plan that will result in delivery of a completed product, on time and on budget.”