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  • Writer's pictureKennington Groff, Esq.

Why You Need An Attorney At All Stages Of A Production - Part 3: Post-Production

Congratulations! Principal is done and it's time to turn all that footage into your story. Editors are coming into play, marketing and merchandising needs to be prepared, wrap parties need to be planned, and the work needs to be distributed.

In post, editors are editing the film, music is composed, visual special effects and computer imagery is added, digital copies of the work are generated, and typically the Producer and Director review the work and make any notes for changes. You are probably thinking you are done with legal at this point, but not quite.

As the film is edited, there may be some legal issues and/or standards and practices issues that come up in the talent's dialogue or in the background of a shot. Typically, in a scripted show these language issues will be caught during the script review phase before principal begins; however, in an unscripted show where the camera is constantly rolling, talent or producers may request certain conversations or dialogue not be aired. Additionally, in a clips show, someone will be checking to ensure the clips that are used in edit are cleared ones and any supplemental ones added in from vendors don't have anything in the background that could be problematic from a legal and/or standards and practices perspective.

Once the final work is done with edit, it's now time to market it. Marketing consists of social media, trailers, and posters to name a few. However, if this work has talent with "likeness" rights, typically they have the right to approve a certain number of photos that were taken while filming the work, they have a say in the position they will be in on marketing and merchandising products, and they will have excluded category likeness rights that they will not allow you to market their likeness with. These likeness rights should be determined in development/ pre-production when you are getting your contracts in place; however, legal should be verifying these rights when marketing is creating their materials.

Another way works market themselves are through a promotion like a contest or sweepstakes. Legal will need to draft rules for these promotions. Typically, there will be different rule language for web, radio, and print.

While a major studio typically pays for all levels of development, production, and distribution, most filmmakers are having to handle all of this on their own, and distribution is their time to get their film licensed. When an independent filmmaker makes a film, they bear the cost and risk of failure. Distributors are not (should not!) seeing their film until it is completed and filmmakers are looking for a deal. Depending on the buzz around the film of cinematography, filmmakers may be able to get a better deal and an attorney will know how to structure the distribution/ acquisition agreement.

Finally, when you are ready to show of your work and all the dedication and time you have put into it, you should celebrate that work by having a wrap party and/or premiere. If money is tight, a great way to help with this is by having a sponsor for the party. With a sponsorship comes a sponsorship agreement and an attorney can handle this too.

Creating your dream project does not always run as smoothly as you hope, nor does it follow the same exact formula every time, but one thing that never changes is your need to higher an entertainment attorney to help ensure your project gets made and released with as few bumps in the road as possible so that you can keep creating and moving on to your next project.

Disclaimer: This website and blog in no way creates an attorney-client relationship, nor do they provide legal advice. They are intended for informational purposes only.

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