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Legal Considerations in Post-Production

If the first thing you did after production was to get rid of your lawyer, it’s time for an apologetic phone call. All those editors, mixers and technicians working in post need contracts too. If you think your post crew and their unions will be totally fine with a “special thanks” in the credits, then get ready to cross some angry picket lines. And speaking of other legal obstacles that can harm your project, are you certain that you’ve secured all the necessary licensing rights for your soundtrack?

Photo: Public Domain | U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Grace Lee

A Bit About Titles and Credits

Believe it or not, actors aren’t the only people who will start a global nuclear war over who gets credited where and when. Producers, directors, cinematographers – they and their unions all have very strong ideas about their credits in your project. Even the post crew members doing the credits sequence care about the order and titles they receive. For example, what’s the right order to credit the sound editor, sound mixer, sound designer and sound technician? We’ll probably receive an angry letter from each of those unions just for listing their titles that way in the previous sentence. And if you think it’s petty to argue about whether “with” or “and” is the best way to share credits for a collaborative job, the unions do not share your feelings. Understanding the legal guidelines and locking down the credits ahead of time can keep your project on schedule, not to mention keep you out of court later.

E&O Insurance / Clearance

Your first screening might be for friends, family and loved ones; the second should be for your legal representatives. Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance is a problem you want to have, as it means real people will actually see your work. However, you don’t want a minor detail in one shot holding up your distribution deal. Even if you filmed your entire project in public, not everything might be in the public domain. And remember all those licensing and clearance rights? It’s not a bad idea to have a lawyer double check everything ahead of time instead of after the fact.

For More on Business Considerations in Post-Production:

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