Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is an entertainment and intellectual property attorney and partner with the New York law firm of LaneCrowell, LLP. Mr. Crowell counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. A frequent columnist for film industry publications, Mr. Crowell is also the author of a best-selling legal guide for independent producers, The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers (Focal Press), which has been adopted as a core textbook in many film and law schools across the United States. His latest book is “The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators” (Focal Press) — is the very first dedicated legal guide for the comic book industry. He currently serves as a series editor for Focal Press and its new line of legal guides for artists. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Crowell was a television producer and the head of business development for one of Japan's premier satellite television news companies, the Science Technology Network. Mr. Crowell began his legal career at KMZ Rosenman, where he established his expertise in entertainment, media, intellectual property protection, and general corporate and commercial matters. In addition to his private practice, as a teacher, Thomas is the co-creator and Director from Practice, emeritus, of the “Indie Film Clinic” at Cardozo Law School, where he has taught courses in film and media law. THIS PRESENTATION HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE OR A LEGAL OPINION. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT QUESTIONS YOU RAISE DURING THE WORKSHOP ARE NOT CONFIDENTIAL. ONLY YOUR ATTORNEY CAN ADVISE YOU WHICH LAWS ARE APPLICABLE TO YOUR SPECIFIC CASE AND SITUATION. Full Bio »
What is the most important element toward your film to landing a distributor? The script? The director? You may be surprised. For many distributors, the choice of one film over another often comes down to whether your film features an actor that audiences recognize. Actors’ performances breathe life into a film, and their fame gives a film its marketing power. Whether you're shooting a student or short film, ultra low budget, low budget or new media, it's important to sign talent that will help move the needle on your project. As important, you must know how to navigate the wide, varied landscape of actor agreements to assure that you are buttoned up legally so that distributors and sales agents are attracted to your project.
Because performers realize the hold they have over a film project, negotiating talent services agreement can be a nail-biting experience. Virtually every recognizable performer has a team of agents, managers, and attorneys ready to protect the actor’s interests and negotiate the best deal they can for their client. For producers, knowing how to negotiate an actor’s contract is critical for the success of their films. Making sure that you have your film set up properly from the legal perspective at the get-go will help put you in the best position to negotiate. And, making sure you know the clauses to look out for during negotiation and how to handle them is crucial.
Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is an entertainment and intellectual property attorney and partner with the New York law firm of LaneCrowell, LLP. Mr. Crowell counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. Throughout his career he's helped hundreds of producers and actors protect themselves when signing the Talent Services Agreement.
Thomas will walk you through labor and employment issues to consider when hiring key cast for your production, as well as give you payroll company resources you can use. You'll learn how to sign you production up as a signatory with SAG-AFTRA and how to be compliant. He will help you determine which union agreement your film will fall under and discuss the differences to consider between a student/short film, ultra low budget, low budget or new media project. Once you understand how to set up your film correctly, he will teach you how you can negotiate with agents, managers and other actor's representatives. Finally, Thomas will go over the key elements of a legal actor/talent services agreement. This is an all encompassing look at the broad landscape of actor's agreements taught with an easy to understand and comprehensive delivery.
Whether you are making student films, short films, feature films, or new media projects with ultra low, low, medium or big budgets, you will learn EXACTLY what you need to get your actor's agreements buttoned up and protected.
"One of the best yet! All are informative and I have learned from each, but this one topped the charts. Definitely want Thomas back. Thanks!"
"This was incredibly detailed. I appreciated that Thomas took a lot of time showing real life examples and included easy to understand descriptions of all the clauses that would make my spin. Well worth the time."
Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.
Very helpful graphics; good pace (not to fast or slow); speaker had high level of knowledge/experience. Very helpful. - J. Marshall
Tons of great information very well explained - Thanks! - R. Heaps
Great job.. Thank you. - R. Miles
One of the best yet! All are informative and I have learned from each, but this one topped the charts. Definitely want him back. Thanks! J. Rose
This webinar has a 100% satisfaction rating! Acquiring the rights to a literary property with an eye towards turning it into a movie or television series is one of your primary responsibilities as a filmmaker or producer. Or, if you’re a writer with a screenplay or someone who owns IP that can be made into a film or TV series, how do you know you’re signing the right contract with a producer? Whether you are looking to acquire a screenplay, article, book, graphic novel or comic book series you need an option/purchase agreement — or is it shopping agreement? Or is it an attachment agreement? Trying to understand which agreement is right for you can make your head spin. But, it’s important to make sure you come to the table with the right agreement to protect yourself upfront and secure all the necessary rights to the amazing property you’re after. At a glance, it seems that there is overlap between the holy trinity of rights agreements: shopping, option/purchase and attachment. Unfortunately, many people confuse the terms and as a result people often end up coming to the bargaining table with very different ideas on what kind of agreement they are — resulting in the creation of Frankensteined-together versions of these three types of contracts. The wrong drafting can leave the writer stripped of their copyrights or producers and filmmakers unable to secure financing because they don’t have the rights they thought they paid for. There are key distinctions between these three agreements and any producer or filmmaker(or on the flipside, writer)must know the difference between them. Experienced entertainment attorney Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is here to help. Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including clients who have had deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. A former television producer and director of development for STN, Thomas has spent the better part of the last two decades creating ways to make difficult legal concepts accessible to creatives. Thomas will give you a solid foundation of the legal issues involved in the acquisition of film rights, as well as a rubric for understanding, negotiating, and drafting key provisions in the option/purchase, shopping agreement, and attachment deals. He will walk you through the basics of copyright law and the legal steps necessary in transferring rights. Next he will discuss common pitfalls writers and producers make when it comes to breaks in the chain of title, joint authorship, and work for hire. Critically, Thomas will spell out the differences between shopping, option/purchase, and attachment agreements and will give invaluable tips on how to negotiate and draft these agreements to ensure you’re getting what you need and not being taken advantage of. You will have the tools you'll need to navigate the murky waters of copyright law and to land the rights to your dream literary property. Plus! Thomas provides you with a 32 page detailed resource guide to help you navigate the nuances of various agreements Praise for Thomas' Stage 32 Webinar “I would wholeheartedly recommend this webinar not only to producers and writers, but to anyone in the business, even if you think you know what you're doing. It's mandatory viewing if you call yourself a professional." - Anna H. "Very informative. Liked how he emphasized applying for copyright. I still thought registering with WGA was enough. Liked how organized his lecture was. I'll watch it again." - Joanne E. "The best I've heard this explained." - Patricia C. "The best webinar I have taken here so far. Great visuals, clear explanations, relevant topic." - Maritere Y. "Thomas was excellent. Articulate, helpful diagrams, and I liked his delivery and vast experience as a producer and lawyer." - Virginia K
Feature films, documentaries, biopics, book adaptations, and sequels/prequels are all very different from each other, but they share a fundamental legal necessity: the need to acquire certain intellectual property rights in order to make the film. Whether it’s a fictional character or a real-life person; a novel, play, comic book, movie, TV show, or web series if you don’t own or control the underlying rights your film may end up in litigation rather than the theaters. This webinar will introduce you to basic intellectual property concepts and walk-through the key agreements and licensing language you will need when you are making a film based upon somebody else’s property or persona. Too often filmmakers “shoot first and get permission later.” This might be fine for scenes which can be cut if you can’t get the rights but is disastrous when your entire movie depends upon a copyright or life story that you have not effectively licensed. Intellectual property can be complex, and confusing, and the failure to include the right licensing language may result in a film that can never be distributed. To make matters even more complicated, conscientious producers often pull forms from the web that are not designed for their particular projects. In this webinar you will learn from one of the top entertainment attorneys in the industry, Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. A former television producer and director of development for STN, Mr. Crowell counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues. He has worked with clients who have had deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC Comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. He will teach you how to spot problems with licensing agreements, learn what agreements are needed in order to license copyright and “life rights,” and learn how to investigate and correct breaks in a film’s “chain of title.” You will walk away feeling confident that you have the correct copyrights in place for your project!
Creating a movie is more than just a labor of love: it's also an investment of time and money. But while countless hours are spent raising money, putting the project together, setting up shots, and editing footage, many producers and filmmakers spend too little time or have little understanding of how to take care of the legal aspects of their productions. As a result, producers and filmmakers often learn the difficult lesson that no matter how good their films may be, a distributor can't sell a movie unless all of the necessary rights and permissions have been secured. In fact, without the correct agreements in place, filmmakers may be surprised to find out that they may not even own their own films! Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including clients who have had deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. A former television producer and director of development for STN, Thomas has spent the better part of the last two decades creating ways to make difficult legal concepts accessible to creatives. Thomas will outline how to spot the top 10 major legal problems that filmmakers and producers face. He'll go through aspects of copyright law and a deep dive of a filmmaker's ownership of the film to make sure you keep your rights. He'll go over critical deal points for option and purchase agreements and talk about fundraising "sand traps" and how to avoid them. Finally Thomas will teach you tips and tricks for negotiating with agents. Whether you have a finished film, a script, or the beginnings of an idea for a television program, you will leave this webinar with a set of tools you can use to tackle legal problems that may come your way. "One of the best webinars yet! All are informative and I have learned from each, but this one topped the charts. Calmly and clearly explained every pitfall I fear. Definitely want him back. Thanks!" - J. Rose
This Webinar has a 100% Satisfaction Rating! It’s common for creatives to not worry about how cameras work and leave it to the Director of Photography to understand, but this is at the filmmaker's own peril. Having a fundamental understanding of how exactly the machine you are using to capture images to create your project is crucial, even if you have a trusted DP on your side. And, if you are a creative who is looking to take your first leap into cinematography, it's important you know the fundamentals before you start shooting. Understanding at least the basics will help make sure you can speak the same language as your DP, can give you new ideas as you plan out your shot list and production, and can help you discover new approaches that you might not have even known were possible otherwise. But you don’t need to go to an expensive film school to learn the fundamentals. Cinematographer Daniel Brothers can give you the rundown much more quickly and for a lot less money. Daniel Brothers is an accomplished and in-demand cinematographer who has traveled around the world shooting projects for companies like ViceMedia, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Facebook and more. Daniel serves as Director of Photography for the popular Facebook interview series RED TABLE TALK with Jada Pinkett Smith and Willow Smith and continues to consistently shoot documentaries, feature films, and TV series. He also teaches the art of the camera in schools and works to mentor and support budding cinematographers and is prepared to bring his lessons and perspective to the Stage 32 community. Make sure you know what you’re talking about and have a sense of what each camera is doing before you start your next project. Whether you’re a director, actor, producer, or writer, Daniel will give you the tools and knowledge you need.
Most people have a general idea of what a director does, but that idea usually pertains more to feature films. Directing television can be a separate beast altogether. Successful TV directors need to be adept at navigating inherent contradictions associated with this role. Unlike in films, TV directors have to both have a vision and still fit in with the overall feel of the series. And they need to be in charge despite often only coming in for an episode or two. These are tough lines to straddle, but doing so and honing your craft can lead to a successful and exciting career. Pursuing a career in directing in any medium is rife with challenges: there is no set path to success and finding insight into the inner workings of directing is challenging. Television directing is an even more specific specialty within the world of directing. Several ways of working and behaviors that would be ideal for a feature director are not compatible with the way television is produced. In addition, the path to breaking in as a television director is quite different from that of a feature director. If your goal is to direct television, it’s vital to understand the way television is produced and the role that the director plays within that specific production environment. Heath Cullens is an accomplished television director who has directed episodes of TV shows like IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Heath’s other notable credits include IDIOTSITTER for Comedy Central, DEADBEAT for Hulu, and BLACK JESUS for Adult Swim. In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Heath is well-versed at the art of TV directing and will now share what he knows exclusively with Stage 32. Heath will dig into the specifics and craft of directing for television and will reveal how to pursue it and how best to do the job once you get it. Heath will first explain how best to pursue work in TV directing, including discovering the type of TV is the best fit, how to find your ‘in’, developing a reel, shadowing, and working with established creators. Next he will delve into the vital relationships you’ll need to maintain as a TV director, including with the EP/showrunner, the crew, the cast, and the network or studio. Finally Heath will go through the major challenges you should expect in this role and tips on how to navigate. Along the way, Heath will share challenges and experiences from his own career. The role of a TV director can be enigmatic and often eclipsed by feature films, but Heath will give you the rundown so you can be equipped with the knowledge and advice to pursue this route on your own.
As you are aware, unscripted television is BOOMING. All the streamers have jumped into the mix and now more and more networks, premium cable channels and even short form platforms like Quibi are diving in with both feet. Creating compelling non-fiction TV requires more than just vision. It involves a gameplan. And it can't hurt to have multiple ideas in reserve or even multiple paths for the same show. This will allow you to not only launch one show, but perhaps lay the groundwork for many shows, essentially building brand recognition for you and for your production company. There is a path to building a scalable business in reality and unscripted and that path is wider than ever. And there's no better person to send you on that path than a guy who has built an empire with his company through producing such shows as Netflix's CHEER and CHEF'S TABLE and many others for streamers and networks around the world. We all have a desire to tell stories. In an era when technology is rapidly developing and there are increasingly lower barriers to actually creating unscripted content. But an idea is just the start. Often times what we fail to do is understand how to get from an idea, or a series of ideas, to having viable content that a more commercial marketplace is actually looking for. By doing a deep dive into the history, shows and business of the prolific reality production company Boardwalk Pictures, we can better understand how to establish our creative voice and brand in a crowded landscape and determine how best to bring our value to a variety of projects and partners. Andrew Fried is the Founder and President of Boardwalk Pictures, producers of premium non-fiction content for multiple networks and distributors including Netflix, Showtime, Quibi, YouTube and many others. A recipient of multiple awards and 3 Emmy nominations, Fried and Boardwalk strive to elevate and expand the idea of documentary television across an ever-growing unscripted landscape. Boardwalk has been responsible for some of the most prestigious unscripted series of the last few years. CHEF'S TABLE, now entering its 7th season, has received 8 Emmy nominations, has won 3 James Beard Awards and the IDA Award for Best Documentary Series. CHEER, also on Netflix, has proven to be one of the platform's biggest successes. Other huge commercial hits include Gwyneth Paltrow's THE GOOP LAB, 7 DAYS OUT, STREET FOOD and LAST CHANCE U (now in it’s 4th season), the Showtime series ACTION and YouTube’s BEST SHOT. Andrew will teach you how to stake your claim in the unscripted marketplace and also how to build an empire in the space. By diving into his journey and the paths Boardwalk Picture shows have taken from concept to screen, Andrew will show you the do's and don'ts of unscripted from the creative and business sides to assure you shorten your path to success. He will speak to the companies origin stories and how Chef's Table became Netflix's first unscripted original series. He will explain how to judge quantity vs. quality, explain the "8th Grade Assembly" test, describe what it means to be storyteller led, and how to identify a void that needs to be filled. He will dive into how to develop your creative brand, define what stories it is you want to tell, and how to approach meetings and networking opportunities to help get your vision to air. He will describe how to add value to just about every situation - so important in unscripted where you're likely to have partners and how to best position yourself to where people not only want to work with you, but will be anxious to hear your next idea and the one after that. Praise for Andrew's Stage 32 Webinar "Fabulous, authentic insights into what makes a successful producer of premium unscripted content!" -John P. "Loved it! I especially appreciated his positivity! I’m feeling inspired and I know I’m on the “write” track to creating something wonderful!" -Edie F. "Andrew was really great - a total professional who gave a lot of insight into "the business" and what attracts the green light." -Pooky A. "Excellent. Honest. Thoughtful. Insightful." -Tim O.