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Where can we get legal papers made and/or verified for filmmakers and entertainers?

Los Angeles, CA |

As a film-maker, I want to be sure that everything that I shoot will be mine to edit and used without any legal issues waiting to happen. Therefore I would be needing a contract/release form that would say that the actor(s)/actress(es) would be giving me personality rights and editing control over the footage. I've seen a few online but I'm not a lawyer and I always doubt that Im missing some meaning behind a line or two that can spell trouble for me later on. Is there a reliable website, location, or consumer online store where I can get these kinds of contracts/releases?

Attorney Answers 11

  1. Hire a lawyer and have one drafted. Nothing at some online store is fit for your use

  2. A regular Avvo contributor, Pamela Koslyn, entertainment attorney in Pasadena is one place to start. While forms can get you started, it is what is missing more than what is already there which needs the input of an attorney.

    I am sure there are other very good entertainment attorneys listed in the Avvo Find a Lawyer section located at both the top and bottom of this page.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

  3. Consult with a business/entertainment attorney. You can find these forms by searching Google, but you should not rely on them or use them as they may not suit your needs. A full consultation would be necessary to properly advise you.

  4. No. These documents must be custom made to address your specific circumstances, desires, and practices. You need to consult with an entertainment attorney. Good luck!

    I am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of California. Unless we have both signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not my client, and my discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.

  5. You should hire a lawyer. This is not a good way to approach this issue.

    This post does not create an attorney-client relationship between my firm and the asker. In all events, the asker is well advised to secure advice from an attorney with experience in the area covered by the question asked. This answer is posted for general purposes only.

  6. As my colleagues have stated, if legal work were as easy as downloading a form there would be no attorneys. Don't make mistakes by trying to cut corners. If you are investing time in money in making a film why would you not want to make sure that a.) you own what you paid for, and b.) have the right to exploit it commercially? The legal costs are part of the business and should automatically be built into the financials and the cost of the film. You could actually be held liable for negligence by not hiring an attorney if you contract with an investor or a distributor. Invest in your project and retain competent and experience legal counsel.

  7. Is there a reliable website, location, or consumer online store where I can get free movies? My point is that a movie that is worth a major investment of time, is worth protecting, or expected to generate substantial revenue is one where you get professional legal assistance. You are in the entertainment capital of the world and will find more pertinent legal expertise there than anywhere else.

  8. You should give me a call at Cotman IP Law Group. I have years of experience in the film & television transactional space. I'm local and will provide you with a free consult.

    The answer to the question above is general advice and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship between you and I. Before pursuing any course of action relating to the question herein, you should consult an attorney.

  9. I agree with the other lawyers that you should consult with an experienced entertainment attorney regarding your entertainment agreements. If you can't afford an attorney, then you can approach your local Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) group for volunteer assistance from a lawyer. If you have no other choice, you can try to prepare your own forms, with the added (unacceptable?) risk that they will have serious problems rendering them ineffective. Below is a link to a great book, "Counseling Content Providers in the Digital Age," which has very good, vetted entertainment agreements. It is published by the New York State Bar Association. Another excellent book with legal forms for independent filmmakers is "The American Bar Association's Guide to Independent Filmmaking." A link for that publication is also provided. But, again, for any serious project, you should have an experienced entertainment lawyer to guide you.

    No attorney client relationship is created with this post and no legal advice has been rendered. This is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any specific set of facts which have been reviewed by me. The information contained in this response has not been verified and is not necessarily accurate or reliable, or applicable to any particular jurisdiction. Always hire a licensed attorney to represent your legal interests.

  10. You're apprehension is well placed, and you should follow that feeling. Professional assistance from a licensed practitioner well give you a basic assurance of having a course of action (call their licensing board) if you have a problem unlike a website or an unlicensed person that sells you something that's not what you wanted or needed related to the law. Typically, there's not much you can do about ordering the wrong contract online or working with someone who's not an attorney on a legal matter generally is unwise. You could sue, but you need an attorney for that. So, just get professional help from the beginning.

    Please note that the above posting does not constitute legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Attorney Alston or McAlpine PLLC, and you are encouraged to consult with a licensed attorney in your state. 704.287.6160 if you have more questions

  11. I agree with the other attorneys who have answered that these need to be drafted by an entertainment attorney. Note also that when you try to find distribution for the film you will need to warrant that you have rights to all of the intellectual property within it. Cutting corners here could be very costly later. Follow your instincts and get consultation from an attorney.

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