Top 10 Legal Traps for Producers and Filmmakers & How to Avoid Them

Hosted by Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.

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Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.

Webinar hosted by: Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.

Entertainment & IP Attorney at LaneCrowell LLP (clients film & projects appear on Nickelodeon, Discovery, Starz, TLC and more!)

A founding partner of Lane Sash & Larrabee 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. He joined Lane Sash & Larrabee in July of 2012 as a partner. 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, Mr. Crowell is the Director of the Indie Film Clinic at Cardozo Law School, where he also teaches a course in film law. Mr. Crowell is a strong supporter of legal pro bono work for artists and is the Executive Director emeritus of the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. 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. 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 »

Webinar Summary

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!

For the last 2 decades, Thomas Crowell has been one of the most respected legal voices in the entertainment industry. He's helped countless filmmakers and producers get protected and stay protected throughout the life of their projects. He'll be using real documents and legal examples to show you in layman's terms how to avoid the biggest traps filmmakers and producers fall into. No matter what budget range you're working in, his information is actionable and applicable.

Whether you have a finished film, a script, or the beginnings of an idea for a television program, this course will show you how to spot the top legal problems filmmakers and producers face… and give you a set of tools you can use to tackle them!

 

 

"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

What You'll Learn

  • The 10 legal traps most likely to derail any production and how to avoid each one
  • Key aspects of copyright law: “work for hire,” and “fair use” - with examples of properly drafted signed agreements.
  • Filmmaker’s ownership of the film, to ensure distributors do not reject your film and that you keep your rights!
  • Critical deal points for option/purchase agreements - with examples of critical clauses 
  • Fundraising “sand traps” and how to avoid them - this will assist with avoiding criminal or civil liability
  • Tips and tricks for negotiating with agents
  • Q&A with Thomas 

 

About Your Instructor

A founding partner of Lane Sash & Larrabee 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. He joined Lane Sash & Larrabee in July of 2012 as a partner.

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, Mr. Crowell is the Director of the Indie Film Clinic at Cardozo Law School, where he also teaches a course in film law. Mr. Crowell is a strong supporter of legal pro bono work for artists and is the Executive Director emeritus of the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

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.

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.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year! For a live webinar, you will be given the link within 2 business days after the live session.

Testimonials

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

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • I have taken Thomas's webinars several times over the years through stage 32 and I have learned so much. From my personal experience, if you ever in need of an entertainment attorney to represent you when you encounter legal issues with your film, he is the the attorney you should go to. Thank you, Thomas Crowell for literally saving my behind! Joe Perales

Other education that may be of interest to you:

How to Negotiate Actor's Agreements for Your Short Film, Feature, or Digital Media Project

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!"  Jessica R.   "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." Paul P.  

Your Definitive Legal Guide to Shopping, Option and Attachment Agreements - With an In Depth 32-Page Resource Sheet

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

PowerNetworking for Film and Television Producers

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How to Obtain Your Green Card and O&P Visas for Working in the U.S. Film & TV Industries

Often entertainment immigration seminars focus on actors, but what about everyone else who works on a film or TV project? Directors, producers, screenwriters, crew members, editors, sound designers, costumers, creative advertising directors, production specialists and all other creatives and professionals need the pertinent information as it applies to Visas and Green Card information. Understanding all Visa possibilities, which one is right for you, the eligibility requirements, and how to assure your applications and petitions have all the pertinent information needed to push through the system will have you in the best position to be approved quickly so you can begin working in the U.S. There is a threshold that the U.S. Immigration Office has set before they will approve a Visa application. It's called "Extraordinary" and your information must meet the standards to earn that status. But for many, knowing the criteria that can push your application and petition to this high level is nebulous at best and often extremely confusing. We're here to clear it all up for you. Your hosts, Lorraine D'Alessio and Liz Profumo are partners at D'Alessio Law Group. Their practice specializes in immigration and nationality law and concentrates on temporary and permanent business and employment related visas for investors, artists, and entertainers. They have has assisted hundreds of artists, performers, and other industry professionals to realize their dreams of living in the United States. Ms. D'Alessio combines her unique, firsthand knowledge of the entertainment business with immigration law. This year she also won the Century City Bar Association's "Lawyer of the Year" Award.    Exclusively for Stage 32, Lorraine and Liz will take away all the confusion, anxiety and fear associated with understanding the Visa landscape and submitting an application and petition. They will start by presenting a detailed explanation of the various type of Visas so you can understand and identify, with confidence, which Visa is right for you. They will dive into the U.S. Immigration Office's threshold for obtaining "extraordinary" status and how you can prove that you fit the criteria. They will help you identify who should be your petitioner and how to best build his or her resume to assure they're credible in the eyes of the reviewing officer. They will teach you what to say and what not to say when you reach the border. And they will dive into other legalities and contracts you should be aware of and how to identify and avoid immigration scams.   This is a fully comprehensive overview and directional guide on how to understand the Visa process, submit a thorough and complete application, and best position yourself to obtain a Visa to begin working in film & TV in the U.S.     Praise for Lorraine and Liz   "The Webinar was simply amazing. Great clarity!" - Ranadeep B.   "Tremendously informative." - Arhynn D.   "Easy to follow and to understand. So helpful." - Elizabeth K.   "The best I've seen on this subject. Filled with gratitude." - Sunil P.      

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