Mark Litwak provides a helpful and insightful list of 17 things movie producers can do to protect their interests. Aspiring producers, successful producers, even practicing entertainment lawyers would be well-served by printing up that list and keeping it in an easily-accessible location. A sample of Litwak’s advice:
1. OBTAIN ALL PROMISES IN WRITING. Don’t accept oral assurances from a producer or studio executive. If they promise to spend $50,000 to promote your film, put that promise in writing. If there is not enough time to draft a long-form contract, insist on a letter agreement spelling out the essential terms.
8. TERMINATION CLAUSE: If the other party defaults, it is best if you have the right to terminate the contract and regain all rights to your film in addition to monetary damages. Writers should insist on a reversion clause so that if a script is bought and not produced within a reasonable amount of time (e.g., five years), all rights revert to the writer.
All 17 items are nuggets of good advice. Mr. Litwak is obviously too gracious to add an important 18th item (but we’re not, so we will): it can’t hurt to consult an experienced entertainment lawyer…