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Music is one of the most important elements of any picture. The right music can be transcendent—the wrong one downright distracting. The difference between the two is very often money. Independent producers tend to under budget music costs, then “borrow” from the music budget whenever they have shortfalls in other areas. I strongly recommend that…

You may not film in an interior location unless you have the owner’s permission. You need to secure a Location Agreement wherein the location’s owner gives you written permission to be on the premises. You may need a permit for exterior locations from the city or state where the location is situated. You may have…

You will need up to five different types of insurance for your production. Production insurance/general liability, equipment insurance, Workers Compensation Insurance, and completion bond insurance are purchased during pre-production. E&O insurance is purchased prior to the picture’s distribution. You must purchase insurance because your production company is contractually committed to do so by the companies…

Talent You have to become a SAG signatory even if only one of your actors is a SAG member. Remember that SAG has to clear the picture in order for SAG talent to render services, and it will not do that until the production company is a SAG signatory and has met all of SAG’s…

Director’s Agreement Your relationship with the director can be a blessing or a walk through a mine field. Do your homework and only consider directors known for completing their pictures on time and on budget. And, since you literally hand over the creative aspect of your picture to the director, choose one whose vision of…

Above-the-Line Agreements The producer, director, screenwriter, and talent are part of the Above-The-Line personnel. Their Work-For-Hire Agreements are complex because their responsibilities and salaries are greater than the crews. Below are most important deal terms included in each of the Above-The-Line’s Work-For-Hire Agreements. Producer You can refer to the above section on Production Agreements if…

Everyone who renders a creative service on your picture may have a claim to the picture’s copyright, since copyright vests the moment the creation is fixed in a tangible medium. You avoid copyright vesting by making each person execute a Work-For-Hire Agreement prior to the commencement of services. All of the employment agreements related to…

SAG vs. Non-Members of SAG You are free of SAG’s requirements if your entire cast is comprised of non-SAG members. Nonetheless, keep in mind that you always have to comply with labor laws which, among other things, require that you pay at least minimum wage, overtime, and provide workers compensation insurance. Your line producer/ unit…

Production / Production Legal If you have raised financing and are ready to commence the production process, now is the time to hire an attorney if you do not already have one. When I provide production legal, I do so from the commencement of pre-production through the completion of post. I negotiate and draft all…

Movie Production Incentives You can raise a portion of your picture’s production budget via the use of production incentives offered by a U.S. State or foreign country. These incentives came about in the 1990s in response to the flight of movie productions to other countries such as Canada. Since then, states (and now several countries)…

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