04-25-2005, 03:16 PM
Ok, I have a project to do and the state agency I'm doing the film for wants a contract. Can anyone suggest a book or send a document as an example about contracts? This is my first "real" project out of school (master's degree), and I want to do it right. It is VERY low budget (probably under $8,000 for an hour film) educational film for a visitor's center / webstreaming. I'll be working in collaboration with my local PBS station. I'll be shooting and editing the project.
Any advice? Who should pay for insurance? What things should I negotiate? What things are absolute musts? I will be working on a contractual basis, not as a park or PBS employee.
Thanks so much!
04-25-2005, 10:51 PM
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or accountant!
It sounds like there are three parts to this doc job: 1) Forming an LLC, 2) becoming a contracter for the state agency and 3) everything else that normally goes with producing a documentary.
1) First, limit liability for your production by forming a single-member Pennsylvania LLC. Let's call the LLC "Erie Pictures" for example. This is first step for nearly any "real" production.
2) Now Erie Pictures is going to be a Contractor for the state of Pennsylvania. You say you don't know what they want in the contract, and you don't want to appear to be a "newbie" to your client. My advice is to go to your friends at the PBS station, and find a producer that has done this before. Especially, if this is your first "real" project, you'll want to be mentored by someone that knows the ropes. If that doesn't work, try to find any other similar productions already made for the state and get ahold of whoever produced them.
3) Insurance and everything else: Just like your car, you will be interested in liability for damage to equipment and liability for damage to other people (electrical hazards, attacks by rabid squirrels in the park, etc.) Hopefully PBS is loaning you some gear and you are promising to take care of it. If not, on an $8k budget the rental house will probably have options for insurance. Either you will pay an extra fee per day or you will decide to be on the hook for the safety of that nice Canon XL2. As for liability insurance, in my experience it is not really affordable on such a low budget, again you might ask your friends at PBS.
If you are contracting for the state, you MIGHT be eligible for state compensation if you are injured (even though you are an LLC), but those kinds of things totally vary from state to state. An attorney will know.
If the PBS station is smart they will give you access to a producer that can show you the ropes on these questions.
04-26-2005, 10:14 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, and I understand that legal advice cannot be offered over chatrooms ;)
I do own my own camera, so there won't be rental from the rental house. We did discuss LLCs a little in class, but some professors liked the idea of them, and others did not (instead to set up an LLP or something else). Of course, there are no "media lawyers" in Erie, but I do intend to set this contract up with legal advice.
I'm also attending my local "Small Business Development Center" to help create the small business: my production company. I'll ask about LLCs - I just remember the fees being a bit high, but whatever it takes.
Thanks so much for the insight, it helps a lot.
04-26-2005, 12:37 PM
Forgive my intrusion, but I am unfamiliar with the acronym LLC.
What does it mean?
(I like to learn)
04-26-2005, 12:46 PM
LLC is Limited Liability Corporation - many production companies do this to, I think, formally seperate their personal assets from their business. In the event of being sued as a production company, your personal things (like your house) cannot be taken away from you.
At least that's how I understand it. And I must be like "filmscheduling" here and say I am not a lawyer. :)