By lance weiler, January 21st, 2008

The news of deals being struck is beginning to filter out of Park City. But behind the deal making that has become legendary is the reality of having to deliver the film. Long after the buzz has dwindled producers will start the long haul of delivery. For some outlets it can be minor but for others it can be a labyrinth that will take money from you at every turn.

It tends to be a dry subject but is critical to the sale and distribution of your film. This is especially true if you intend to have some type of traditional theatrical, VOD, TV or foreign distribution. Tani Cohen is an established producer who has delivered numerous narrative and documentary films. This is the first in a series of articles that will attempt to demystify the delivery process.

Tani reports – What is required for delivering your film can vary from company to company. Some smaller companies may require as few as a dozen items where the studios can demand anywhere from 40 to 75 items. The best thing a filmmaker can do is be vigilant while making their film. If possible, the first thing you want to do is hire a production attorney and have them review all the possible documents you may need to compile over the course of production and post. Have your production attorney do as many of the agreements as possible. If you cannot afford an attorney, at the least, try to have an attorney review whatever agreements you create (writer, director, actors, crew deals…)

I think what often happens is that pre-production and production can be so all consuming that things can easily slip through the cracks and then months later (when you are fortunate enough to be in a position to deliver your film), you are scrambling to gather all the documents required.

Another important thing to do is have a script clearance report done before you start shooting. This is a service that will read and break down the script and flag any items that may present a legal conflict. This can include character names, locations, artwork, music, copyrighted material, and product identification… Usually the report will recommend changes and contact information to obtain the proper legal clearances.

Your production coordinator should keep files of all these agreements and build a production folder as part of their wrap. Of course there are many post-production requirements that will be required and usually your post-production supervisor (or you) will track these items.

In additional to the legal delivery items, you will deliver your film and sound elements. Delivery requirements can range from a 35mm answer print to a digital master (or both) depending if you finish on film or a digital format. The film items can include your original picture negative, interpositive, internegaive, optical soundtrack negative and your soundtrack masters. Depending on the company, they will give you specs of what digital format they want and how they want the master delivered, along with the audio specs. There are a variation of sound elements and audio technical specs that may be required; again it depends on the company and format required.

Below is a list of 40 plus possible legal delivery requirements; (They are broken down by items that can be compiled during production, postproduction and/or both.)

LEGAL DELIVERY ITEMS

PRODUCTION

1. WRITERS AGREEMENT
2. UNDERLYING RIGHTS AGREEMENT (chain of title documents)
3. FORM PA (US copyright registration form)
4. SCRIPT CLEARANCE REPORT
5. FORMATION OF PRODUCTION COMPANY DOCUMENT
6. DGA AND WGA SIGNATORY AGREEMENTS (if applicable)
7. SAG SIGNATORY AGREEMENT
8. PRINCIPAL CAST AGREEMENTS
9. SUPPORTING CAST AND DAY PLAYER SAG AGREEMENTS
10.ACTOR PREMIERE AND PHOTO CLEARANCE OBLIGATION STATEMENT
11. DUBBING RESTRICTIONS
12. PAID AD STATEMENT
13. RESIDUAL OBLIGATION STATEMENT
14. DIRECTOR AGREEMENT
15. PRODUCER AGREEMENT
16. STUNT AGREEMENTS
17. KEY CREW AGREEMENTS
18. CREW DEAL MEMOS
19. IA SIGNATORY AGREEMENT (if applicable)
20. SCRIPT SUPERVISOR LOG
21. LOCATION AGREEMENTS
22. ART CLEARANCE AGREEMENTS
23. MISC VENDOR AGREEMENTS
24. BUDGET

PRODUCTION AND POST ITEMS

25. MAIN CREDITS
26. END CREDITS
27. BILLING BLOCK
28. PAID ADS STATEMENT
29. FINAL VENDOR LIST
30. COMPOSER AGREEMENT
31. VISUAL EFX AGREEMENT (if applicable)

POST ITEMS

32. EDITORS NOTES
33. MUSIC CUE SHEETS
34. MUSIC USE & SYNC LICENSE AGREEMENTS
35. SYNOPSIS & PRESS MATERIALS (including production still photographs)
36. FINAL COST REPORT
37. COPYRIGHT & TITLE REPORT
38. POST SOUND AGREEMENT
39. FINAL CONTINUITY LIST
40. DOLBY, DTS &/or SDDS AGREEMENTS
41. LAB ACCESS LETTER
42. MPAA RATING
43. E&O INSURANCE DOCUMENT

Tani Cohen recently produced, the HBO feature documentary, “Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater.” The film was released on DVD through Zeitgeist Films. Prior credits include the MGM released feature film, “The Dust Factory” starring Hayden Panettiere and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Cohen executive produced the Emmy nominated Showtime feature “Snow in August” adapted and directed by Richard Friedenberg. Cohen’s many producing credits include, “Inside Monkey Zetterland”, “The Souler Opposite”, “How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog”, “Forever Lulu” and “Guinevere.” Cohen is currently producing Dylan Otto’s “Listen” with director Valerie Landsburg and “The Great Divide” based on T. Davis Bunn’s best selling novel.

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Posted in BTS biz deals delivery distro doc dvd festivals how to legal narrative resource theatrical tv

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

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COMMENTS

  • This is a great idea and a nice coup for the Crumley/Brice duo. I'm not sure how they finagled this deal, but it doesn't matter. It's been done, and is a lesson that thinking outside the box isn't just possible, but a reality. I hope this signals a shift in perceptions about full length features and web viewing.

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