Pfeiffer Law works with creatives and production companies to negotiate motion picture and television production deals
Motion Picture Production
The attorneys at Pfeiffer Law Corp have litigated issues related to over 100 motion pictures, ranging from Terminator 2: Judgment Day to The Graduate to the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises. This breadth of litigation experience informs Pfeiffer Law Corp’s motion picture production law practice and gives our attorneys a solid foundation from which to draw when advising our clients on these issues. But what exactly is motion picture production law, and what services do our attorneys provide in this area? Basically, motion picture production law encompasses all the legal issues that arise from the creation of the script to the release of the film, when the revenues (hopefully!) start pouring in.
There are three basic phases involved in the creation of a film: 1) development; 2) production; and 3) distribution. Each phase comes with its own distinct set of legal issues, and it is imperative that lawyers practicing in this field have the experience necessary to manage all the moving parts. The development phase of a movie begins when the idea for the movie emerges and usually ends when the decision is made to green light the film. Some of the legal issues that come up during the development stage include negotiating rights agreements regarding the intellectual property involved, submission agreements, life story and exclusive consulting agreements, option to purchase agreements, and financing agreements. At Pfeiffer Law Corp, we have experience handling the transactional aspects of the development phase, including negotiating rights agreements and intellectual property licenses. Our significant motion picture litigation experience also shines a light on the potential problem areas of these agreements, and we work to preemptively eliminate any issues that could expose our clients to liability.
The production phase of a film includes pre-production (getting a location, actors, photography), production (i.e., principal photography), and post-production (editing, reshoots, and coverage). The legal issues involved in this phase usually include negotiating the talent agreements, making sure our clients can legally use the location of the film (getting the correct permits), and obtaining any other intellectual property rights not acquired in the development phase of the movie. The attorneys at Pfeiffer Law Corp have successfully negotiated talent agreements on behalf of writers, directors, producers, and actors, as well as rights agreements between talent and producers/studios. We have also been brought in to litigate these cases.
The distribution phase of the motion picture commences when the movie is finished and, in most cases, never really ends. This stage of the process may be the most litigious; after all, this is when the parties argue about whether they are entitled to receive backend compensation. Backend compensation deals (usually called “Net Profits” deals) have been the source of an extraordinary number of lawsuits. These lawsuits arise because of the definitions assigned to the word “profits” in the agreements. The process of determining when a movie has actually made enough money to trigger backend compensation is not-so-affectionately referred to as “Hollywood accounting.” If you are signing an entertainment contract that includes backend participation, you need qualified lawyers who can tell you exactly what you are entitled to receive. The attorneys at Pfeiffer Law Corp have the experience to help you negotiate these agreements, and the litigation clout to get what is rightfully yours in court.
Please call us if you are involved, or may become involved, in making a movie or feel that you may be exposed to liability as a result of your participation in making a movie. Make sure you have qualified representatives who can protect your interests from development through distribution and beyond.
Like motion picture production law, television law is a massive legal field composed of many moving parts and stages of production. Because the area of TV law is so vast, it is important to retain qualified legal representatives who have experience dealing specifically with television production law issues. The attorneys at Pfeiffer Law Corp have that experience. Utilizing a fair but aggressive approach along with creative legal strategies, we have successfully litigated cases involving some of TV’s biggest shows, including Mad Men, Oz, Weeds, That 70’s Show, and Happy Days.
Television production generally begins with the rights acquisition process. This involves tracking the chain of title of an idea or script (if there is one in the beginning) to make sure the parties claiming to own the work actually do own it. Once this is established, the owners will begin shopping the idea to various production companies. After the writers find a production company interested in taking on the project, the negotiations to draft a pilot script begin. There are seemingly endless negotiation points involved in these negotiations, from different types of options-to-purchase, terms of the pilot services, profit participation, series sale bonuses, approval rights and reversion of rights. You must have qualified legal representation when negotiating these types of agreements. The attorneys at Pfeiffer Law Corp have a proven track record of successfully negotiating these agreements. Additionally, our significant experience litigating issues that arise from these agreements gives us special insight into the deal points that can be particularly problematic.
If you are involved in television production and believe you need help negotiating a TV agreement or believe you might have an issue that needs to be litigated, please call us.