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Producing : Partnership Agreements by Andrew K. Meyer

Andrew K. Meyer

Partnership Agreements

Hey Stage 32 Community! I'm a rookie film-maker, still figuring out the logistics of all this business stuff. I am at the tail-end of post-production on a 45 minute film I directed and produced. I produced it with two other friends of mine and although we filmed the production without professional paperwork (besides SAG for one of our actresses), we decided we want to take the business side of things WAY more seriously, as we believe we might actually have a good shot during festival season! So we agreed that it's better late than never to get our partnership as the three producers down on paper- mostly for financial issues. We have thus far only been using our own money to fund the project. We ARE looking for outside investors, but for now, we want to get an even 3-way split on all profits/losses on anything we are personally spending/making. We aren't concerned about screwing each other over, but we do want to get this all locked down in writing to avoid any possible conflict as we hit the processes of festivals/distribution (more festivals- distribution may be a pipe dream. Any suggestions for what kind of paperwork I exactly need? Do we need legal advisement, or can we draft our own contracts? TALK TO ME LIKE I'M FIVE, because this is all very new to me. Really, any advice you can give to some prospective, broke young producers would be much appreciated! Thanks so much! Andrew

Shaun O'Banion

Hello. Andrew. The plain and simple truth is that, when it comes to contracts, you're best served by having a professional draft any documents. This could be something as simple (and relatively inexpensive) as an LLC agreement, or an LLC and individual contracts. You're very smart to get things in writing. After all, as they say, "it's not 'show friends, it's show business.'" I started out broke as producer myself, and indie films are a bad way to pad the bank account, but save yourself a lot of headache in the future and speak with an attorney on how best to create a document you can all agree on. If you find a young and hungry entertainment attorney, he or she may be willing to draft some docs for you on the agreement that he or she will function (paid) as production counsel on your next project. At the least, use Stage32 to network with some attorneys. Whatever you do, don't Frankenstein contracts from other people/shows together. One size does not fit all when it comes to this stuff and no matter how well you may think you understand a contract, if you do it yourselves, it may not be legally sound should you need it later. Best of luck to you and your partners.

Michael Wearing

Andrew by the sounds of it you've got a lot of work to do. Certainly your partnership with the other guys need to be formalised. If you were in UK I'd suggest setting up a ltd company and each having equal shares in it... Not sure how it works in U.S. So legal advice and contracts as suggested may be the way forward. However there is a mound of paperwork that you really need before entering into festivals. This would include release forms for performers, music and locations etc. in future you will find its far better to get the paperwork right at the start.

Mark Ratering

People fight about things that hardly ever come up. Profit from your enterprise from a first time film-maker.. don't worry about profit.. don't think it will happen.. just sayin

Dane Johnson

Hi Andrew, I think you are absolutely right about treating your film as a business. Good thinking. I also agree with Michael about setting up a business organization. I've got some basic info on why you should on my legal blog here: http://www.issbusinesslaw.com/entertainment-law/why-start-a-production-c... I'm not giving you actual legal advice here, but I would say organizing should be done as soon as possible. You want to be very clear on how ownership will be divided between the people involved. It's easy for misunderstandings to happen and even easier the more successful a project becomes. A businesslike approach would also help a filmmaker's chances of getting a distribution deal.

Steven Wiseman

Hello, have you found your voice over provider yet?

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