Major Agreements from Development Through Production

The list below is meant to give you an idea of some, but not all, of the agreements production counsel handles throughout production. This list is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed as such. Reach out to my office anytime at [email protected] or visit the website to set up your free consultation. 

Phase 1: Development

Option/Purchase Agreement: An option agreement gives the producer a limited period of time to hold specific rights to an intellectual property, with an option to purchase those rights. For example, the producer pays a book author $5,000 for a 6-month period when the producer can determine if there is any interest in adapting the book into a film. During this time the producer is trying to attach actors, raise financing, and develop the script. If the there is sufficient interest, the producer can purchase the rights for an additional sum. For more information about option/purchase agreements, click the link here

Shopping Agreement: A shopping agreement keeps ownership over the creative rights with the writer while allowing a producer to gauge interest in a project from distributors, financiers, studios, networks, or some other buyer. If the producer finds sufficient interest, the writer is left to reach an agreement regarding the rights while the producer stays attached to produce the project. For more information about shopping agreements, click the link here.  

Writer's Contract: This type of agreement commissions a writer to write a screenplay. The most important aspect of this agreement is that it makes the writer's services a work-for-hire. In other words, the producer who paid the writer to write the script owns the rights, NOT the writer. Writers should never work other writers or producers without a written agreement. 

NDA: Non-disclosure agreements require two or more parties to treat information as completely confidential and limits those parties to sharing any information with third parties. 

Investor's Agreement: The hardest part about producing is finding the money to produce a project. The investor's agreement highlights what parties are investing in the project, for how much, and how the return on investment will function if any. 

Phase 2: Pre-Production

Cast/Crew Deal Memos and Contracts: These documents clearly state the compensation, credit, obligations, and job responsibilities for each cast and crew member.

Location Release Forms: Location agreements spell out when and where the production is permitted to shoot and the location fee. Another important aspect of these agreements is the liability for the producer and owner of the location.  

Phase 3: Production

Union Contracts: Unions require that union, contracts are signed if and when the production company is a signatory to the union which usually happens when the production is working with union personnel. 

Music License Agreements: Any kind of music in a creative work must be properly licensed. Typically, this includes a synchronization license and master use license.

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Pitt Entertainment Law is a law firm representing independent creators (Production Companies, Producers, Writer, Directors, Physical Production Crew, Actors, and Social Media Influencers) across Film, Television, and Social Media.

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