Distribution deliverables are far more than simply technical requirements. As we saw last week, there are also substantial marketing materials that you’ll have to provide to the distributor, and more that they may have to generate themselves. This week we’re covering the basics of legal distribution deliverables.
This list is thorough, but not exhaustive. There may be things required outside of this list for legal, and there may be things on this list that are not required, depending on who you’re dealing with.
1. Key Production Agreements
These are essentially legal documents from key cast and crew saying that you have the rights to use their work in your film. Essentially, you’ll have to prove that either you’ve paid out all of the filmmakers, or that they have no claim on the intellectual property of the film. Essentially, you’ll have to prove that whatever work they did was “For Hire.”
Generally you’ll have to provide agreements proving this for key cast and crew. Generally those appearing in the main title sequence is a good measure. The preferred form of delivery for this is fully executed contracts or deal memos.
You’ll also have to provide separate agreements for composers. for the composers, you’ll need to make sure you have the right to use their work in any way you see fit. This can include in trailers, promo spots, DVD extras, and anything else in conjunction with promoting or marketing the film. This is particularly important, and must be treated separately from a standard crew agreement.
If you used source music, you’ll also have to provide that you have the right to use any and all of that source music under similar terms to the composers original music listed above. there’s slightly more wiggle room on this here, but not a whole lot.
2. Certificate of Origin
This is a certificate stating where the film was shot, and essentially stating that the film had the right to be shot there. This is important in all cases, but particularly important in the event that you took tax incentives to finance your film.
3. Chain of Title Summary
This deserves its own blog, which it will get. However, in summary, the chain of title outlines the passage of intellectual property between source material, Script, Production company. I’ll post a link to the other blog here once it’s written.
4. Rights Agreements
These are essentially documents proving that you have the rights to all the intellectual property used in the film. These documents can include options, proof of option payments, assignments, licenses, certificates of authorship, written permissions, powers of attorney and other similar documents.
Often, if the name of the copyright owner is different from the owner of the picture, you will need to write up a transfer letter as well.
5. Copyright Registration Certificate
This should be fairly self explanatory, but you’ll need to include the copyright registration of both the picture and the screenplay. Yes, you do need to copyright your work, a WGA registration will not suffice. And yes, you need to have copyright certificates for both the screenplay and the film.
There are other deliverables that can suffice if the copyright is pending, however those vary by sales agency so I’m not going to go into them here.
6. Additional Agreements/Statements/Letters
There are a few other documents you may have to provide under certain circumstances.
6A, If the Film is Not Originally in English
One would be an english translation if the film is not in english originally. Most of the time, buyers prefer a film be in either their native language or in english. It doesn’t matter if they have to translate the film anyway, they prefer to be translating the film from english.
6B, If you worked with Children
Another ancillary document would be a letter of the Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act Compliance if the film has any children in it. You’ll also need to provide some documentation that you abided by local child labor laws as they pertain to the film industry,
6C, If the film conains nudity or sexual content
In the the event that the film contains sexually explicit material, then you’ll need to provide proof of 28 C.F.R. Compliance and record keeping responsibilities and documentation of those record keeping responsibilities.
Similarly, you’ll need to provide additional documentation from any actor appearing nude or partially nude on screen consenting that their nudity was meant to be widely disseminated among the public.
6D, If it was a union picture
If the film is union, you’ll need to provide all your agreements and proof that you’re in good standing.
6E, Other Contractual Obligations.
There may be a whole host of other releases from governmental, technical, and legal entities that prove this film can be distributed, but there’s such variance, it goes far beyond the scope of this blog.
Thanks for reading! This one ended up being a bit scary. I hope you’ll check back next week for our final installment of the Deliverables for Distribution Series, some as needed deliverables.
In the meantime, if this all seems like a bit much, if you’ve got a completed film, you should consider submitting it to me using the button below. I’ll review it, and get back to you as to whether it’s something I can represent and get out to distributors. If you’ve got an in development film, and are stuck on where you can find film financing, how to package your film, or what a marketing plan for a film looks like, you might want to consider booking a FREE Strategy session with me through Clarity. Both those links are below.
Finally, if you really like my content, you should consider contributing to my patreon. It helps keep me churning out high quality content like this for you on a weekly basis. plus, you get access to an ad-free blog, and if we get to a certain threashold, we’ll start an awesome little podcast.
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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