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Legal Considerations in Production

Ideally, most of the legal issues during production will be about looking ahead to the next stages. It’s actually not too early to be thinking about deals for post-production and even distribution. Of course, if you have any bad apples on set – including actual bad apples on the craft service table – you’ll probably need to give your lawyer a call.

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

Onboarding Replacements

Nobody’s perfect and some people are just dicks. Hopefully you’ve screened your cast and crew well enough to keep out most of the traits on the psychopath checklist. But you never know. And then there’s injuries, illnesses and alien abductions. Or maybe the male and female leads went a little too method about their roles as lovers on a crime spree and robbed three different convenience stores.


“I’ll be taking these here Huggies, and whatever cash you got.”
–Raising Arizona (1987)

Have we told you that stuff goes wrong during production? Anyone you need to replace for whatever reason will need a new contract. Especially on the talent side, you don’t want to get too desperate and make a deal that is way out of proportion. Also, if you have signed any favored nations deals with other members of the cast or crew, you need to keep to those terms. Do not let representatives pressure you into giving their client a better deal. You can always find someone else – or just do it yourself if you have to.

Post-Production Deals

As the dailies start to come in, you’ll have a good idea of how the production is going. And because you’ve listened to every piece of great advice on this website, the footage will be goddamn brilliant. You can try to leverage this into raising more money for post-production.

To know how much money you’ll realistically need, start researching or even negotiating goods and services rates with post houses. Especially if the early footage is promising, a lot of these places will be glad to jump on the bandwagon to have a decent credit on their resume. And while most distributors probably won’t bite until there’s at least a rough cut in place, you can still try to bait their interest with some of the footage. However, when you do send clips around to anyone, ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Realistically, these are pretty hard to enforce, but it’s more about sending the message that you are trying to keep the project within the friends and family circle for now.

For More on Business Considerations in Pre-Production and Production:

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