California TV & Film Agreements
California is one of the top locations for film and television productions in the world. However, even seasoned veterans in the entertainment industry need legal assistance with the numerous contracts that are part of every production. Our California entertainment lawyers are well-versed in the legal and business issues involved in all stages of the production process – from development and financing, through distribution of the finished product. We help reduce the risks and negotiate favorable terms in a broad range of agreements, including the following:
Owners of a work (e.g., a novel or a screenplay) need help if they want their work to become a film or tv production. An option agreement is a contract between the work’s owner and a producer who is interested in turning the work into a film, play or television series. It gives the producer the exclusive option to purchase the rights in the work for a limited time. There are vital provisions in such agreements that require experienced legal guidance. Our attorneys advise clients regarding their rights and obligations under these agreements, negotiating and drafting terms that protect their rights.
An attachment agreement addresses the necessity of obtaining talent early in the production process. It is a contract between the talent and a producer in which the talent commits to the specific project in exchange for some benefit, such as an upfront payment, salary or set rate, share of the profits or other terms. This helps the producer obtain financing because potential investors can see who has attached themselves to the production, as well as the compensation they will receive, which may impact the investor’s ability to recoup their investment.
Many television and film productions want to film outside a studio, and doing so requires a location release that states when, where and how the location will be used. The owners of the premises typically want to be indemnified for any damages arising out of the use of the premises and protected from tort liability that might arise as a result of filming. In addition, the release will state the compensation to be paid for use of the property. The producer should also obtain appropriate rights to record the property and use such recordings.
Actors and directors involved in creating a film or television production generally sign talent agreements. Importantly, these agreements must specify that the talents’ contributions are considered “works made for hire,” which, under U.S. copyright law, ensures the producer, studio or network has rights to their work.
Another issue artists and producers should be aware of is that in California, talent agents are regulated under the California Talent Agencies Act (TAA). However, anyone helping an artist find work, even incidentally, may need to be licensed under the TAA and should seek legal advice on how the law may apply to them.
Product Placement Agreements
If a film or television show will include product placements, it is crucial to have the agreement drafted by an attorney. Many brands are willing to pay to have their products included in a film or television production, and this often serves as an additional source of funding for productions. However, such agreements must comply with FCC rules regarding disclosure of sponsorships.
Sales Agent Agreements and Distribution Agreements
There are a variety of distribution outlets available to productions, including streaming services, home video, video on demand, television and foreign distribution. Our attorneys are experienced in negotiating and drafting such distribution agreements to help ensure favorable terms and protect a client’s rights. If a sales agent is used to find distributors, we also assist with those agreements.
Intellectual Property Rights Clearance Agreements
Rights clearance is the process of obtaining permission to use works owned by third parties and protected by trademark, copyright, privacy and other laws. Our attorneys can assess whether permission is needed, and if so, negotiate appropriate permission or a license that encompasses all intended uses of the work now and in the future.
Our experienced California entertainment lawyers can successfully guide your production through the entire process. Contact us today for help with your project.
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