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Old 08-18-2012, 03:40 AM   #1
catapalla
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Actor refuses to sign release form...What's next?

Hello Everyone,

i'm producing an independent feature in London, a micro micro micro budget, which i'm financing myself. All the actors and crew have signed the release form so far except one, whom the 3rd ad has forgotten while on set. Now that specific actor was happy to accept the part, he's read the script (just 10 seconds screen time), he accepted it and was enthusiastic, he came on set, did his job with nothing going wrong on set (can you believe it?), then when i realized he did not sign the release form i sent him one, alongside with a request of invoice so i could pay him. He now says he does not like the quality of his performance, he will not sign the release form and will not seek any payment for it!!!! I am gutted as he showed no sign of discontent at all, at any time. What can i do? All is documented on email. That little scene has cost me 14 people crew for a day, a posh hotel room rental, equipment and so on... and i don't have a budget to re-do it again. Please tell me what's possible. Thank you.
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Old 08-18-2012, 05:27 AM   #2
Shanked
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welcome to indie producing

That's brutal. My deepest sympathies. At the very least, we are all vicariously learning your harsh lesson about the power of leverage. Once an actor performs without a release form, he has tremendous power over your production.


Possible Solutions
Ranked From Nicest to Nastiest


1) Ask him to reconsider. Go to him in person. Buy him a beer. Tell him that, in general, an actor's voice is a powerful presence and maybe he can recreate a better voice performance with ADR. Even inside the confines of a lip-synching session, an actor can still exercise a lot of freedom with voice inflection. And he get very creative with any lines where his mouth isn't in frame. Acting quality is much more about what we HEAR than what we see.

2) Who else acted in his scene? Maybe a hot actress? If the performer opposite him is a likeable person or a sexy actress, you can get her to plead her case to him from her own point of view... as in "Please, baby, I really need this scene to work... or my agent is dropping me... cuz my reel sucks. Can you help me unbutton this? C'mon, please just be part of our movie. I thought your performance was perfect."

3) Meet him in person and offer to pay him more. Bring cash to the meeting. Make him sign SIMULTANEOUSLY. If he wants more cash than you're willing to yield, tell him it's all you have. If you have to pay by check, then tell him your account only has X dollars.

4) Edit around him. If you're stumped as to how, you could post the script of his scene on this forum and some of us can help you edit him out... maybe. You can give his crucial lines to someone else or you can show him from behind and have someone else do ADR for his lines. (What I'm saying is we won't see his face; we will simply hear the new person's ADR.)

5) Find out who he's working with next. Go to that next producer and tell him/her the situation. See if you can get that producer to threaten to fire this guy unless this guy cooperates with you. This would be really effective if you have more than one producer participate in the effort.

6) If he's union, you can see if the union can help you. Probably not. I don't know the UK rules personally. Maybe there is some leverage you'll be granted in the situation.

7) Does he have an agent or manager? If he's booked on future gigs, you can call his agent and tell the agent you'll be talking to every possible producer to ensure that his bad behavior is known. If he's not booked on anything, you can still try to get the agent involved. This is tricky and I'm sort of guessing this guy is unrepped since your production is dinky.

6) Though I do NOT recommend this tactic, you could threaten to expose him on the internet and start mentioning his name around town, citing the emails and so forth. If he caves in to this threat, great. But if he thinks you're bluffing, then you're going to be tempted to actually do it -- and smear. The problem is you'll make yourself look like a bitter person to other actors for future stuff. Even though you have a right to spread the truth, many actors won't see it that way.




Note that most of these solutions require you to swallow your pride. As a producer, you have to choose between maintaining your dignity or making a great movie. You never get to do both! : )

my deepest sympathies,
Shanked
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:10 AM   #3
gorillaonabike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catapalla View Post
Hello Everyone,

i'm producing an independent feature in London, a micro micro micro budget, which i'm financing myself. All the actors and crew have signed the release form so far except one, whom the 3rd ad has forgotten while on set. Now that specific actor was happy to accept the part, he's read the script (just 10 seconds screen time), he accepted it and was enthusiastic, he came on set, did his job with nothing going wrong on set (can you believe it?), then when i realized he did not sign the release form i sent him one, alongside with a request of invoice so i could pay him. He now says he does not like the quality of his performance, he will not sign the release form and will not seek any payment for it!!!! I am gutted as he showed no sign of discontent at all, at any time. What can i do? All is documented on email. That little scene has cost me 14 people crew for a day, a posh hotel room rental, equipment and so on... and i don't have a budget to re-do it again. Please tell me what's possible. Thank you.


If you would like a suggestion, I would ask if you have you told him your problem? Only a complete ^&*%$% would mess you around in those circumstances. If he is still being difficult, then it is time to say '$%& you' and really escalate this. Personally, I would arrange a meeting and have a big, scary word with him.
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanked View Post
2) Who else acted in his scene? Maybe a hot actress? If the performer opposite him is a likeable person or a sexy actress, you can get her to plead her case to him from her own point of view... as in "Please, baby, I really need this scene to work... or my agent is dropping me... cuz my reel sucks. Can you help me unbutton this? C'mon, please just be part of our movie. I thought your performance was perfect."


Please... continue....
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanked View Post
5) Find out who he's working with next. Go to that next producer and tell him/her the situation. See if you can get that producer to threaten to fire this guy unless this guy cooperates with you. This would be really effective if you have more than one producer participate in the effort.


Especially since he has the footage to prove it.
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:12 AM   #6
NickClapper
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What a strange situation.

Is he explicitly stating that he doesn't want the release signed because he doesn't want his performance seen by anyone? You make it sound like, perhaps, he is just under a misapprehension about the role of the release (not accepting payment suggests he is, more than anything, ashamed of his performance for some reason). I concur with the above people that you should try and explain the situation to him, very calmly, perhaps reinforcing the fact that he doesn't need to be credited in the film if he doesn't want to but that the release is there in order to make sure that the film itself can be seen.
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Old 08-18-2012, 08:04 AM   #7
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Did you show the edited scene to him? You can't trust in what his mind is telling him about his performance. Actors frequently feels bad after acting, thinking they didn't a good job, it's very normal. But once you show it to them, after a good editor put the hands on, this problem disappears - except if the performance is truly bad, case in which the Director must notice on set.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:02 PM   #8
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By tweeking the script, creative editing, narration and 2nd unit filming, you may find a workaround.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:29 AM   #9
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After trying all the above, as a last resort, I'd release it anyway. The odds of him having the money to pay a lawyer to actually get a court order to stop you are probably less than 50/50 and likely way less than that.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:31 AM   #10
Modern Day Myth Prod. LLC
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Rule One with no name actors,.don't let actors run your set. Replace the actor with someone more cooperative.

Once one actor can get away with it others will try it.

You need to interview actors as well as audition them to feel them out to avoid people wrapped up into themselves and let them go for team players.

Last edited by Modern Day Myth Prod. LLC; 08-21-2012 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:56 AM   #11
directorik
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catapalla hasnít been back. No way to know if he ever will.

The legal issue here is distribution. No distributor will spend
the money on a film where one of the actors has specifically
stated he will not sign a release. Self distribution is likely to
be no problem because of what Gonzo said.

I suspect by now, this issue has been resolved. But legally, this
10 seconds of screen time cannot be in the movie.

What I find interesting is no one has mentioned the the 3rd
AD who failed at their job. First - a project that has the budget
for a Third AD is not a ultra-low. Iím saying saying itís a big budget
film, only that this isnít a movie with a tiny budget. Some of
you suggest going after the actor in some way - expose him on
the internet, threaten him, but what about the person whose
JOB it was to get the release? Personally, I would be angry at
that person than the actor. The producer pays a third AD (second
second here in the states) and that person failed to get a signed
contract before the shoot day.

I don't know of a solution after the fact if the actor refuses to
sign, but this is an excellent lesson for all of us making a movie.
Never roll tape on an actor who has not signed a release.

Damn, even "roll tape" is becoming anachronistic.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:07 PM   #12
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These are very unfortunate events, and should serve as a cautionary tale that even guerrilla filmmakers need to make sure they've got their paperwork in check.

I'll be honest, though -- I would use the footage. It's a micro-micro-budget feature; what are the odds of it making any money? Even if the actor sues (which I doubt) -- good luck trying to bleed a turnip.

I don't remember the specific case, but I recall reading about an actor who tried to sue a production, claiming that he did not give them permission to use his image. The production did not have paperwork for him, but the judge threw the case out anyway. The judge reasoned that the actor was clearly acting in the scenes in which he was shown. He wasn't just aware of the camera but was acting for it. And that was proof enough that he was willfully taking part in the production, thereby giving permission for his image to be used. I'm not a lawyer, blah blah blah, but that seems like reasonable logic to me.

Yeah, it would be a risk to use this footage, but I think I would take that risk. This particular asshole actor can go to hell.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:20 PM   #13
directorik
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Very reasonable logic.

The issue is can a filmmaker afford to go through that? Even
when you WIN it costs money to defend yourself.

It brings up something I hadn't thought of; if there is legal
precedent (a judge has ruled) then why would any model
actor release be needed? As long as it is clear to the actor
that a movie is being made (script, cameras, crew, location,
equipment, call time, makeup, other actors) then there seems
to be no need to get an actor to sign.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:35 PM   #14
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Yeah, since I can't even recall the specific case I read about, I obviously can't comment on how it may or may not set precedent for other filmmakers. For all I know, it may have been a student production, with no interests in making profit. I dunno, can't remember.

My vague anecdotes should definitely not be taken as any sort of legal advice.

And yeah, it would definitely be very risky to use the footage. If the actor sues, regardless of the outcome, that would be bad. I'm just not sure that he would sue. Or that he would even be aware of his presence in the film. Regardless, it would be a gamble for sure.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:40 PM   #15
Modern Day Myth Prod. LLC
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The actor.needs to sign a release and contract once you have selected them from an audition.

If they refuse to sign either, find another actor.
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