“The most important thing for a producer to think about when they’re putting their crew together and before they start shooting is to make sure everybody has signed an agreement that says that their work is a work for hire,” suggests attorney Lisa Callif, Partner, Donaldson + Callif. So what is a work for hire (WFH) agreement? “In a nutshell, it basically says that you, the producer, are the owner of that copyright; not the person who is creating that work. And cameramen, specifically, own the copyright to what they shoot. So, if you have a bunch of DP’s and cameramen shooting things, either on a documentary or a feature, and you don’t have an agreement with them, they actually own that footage and they could cause a lot of problems for you down the road if things don’t go well.”
Why crew deal memos are important is just one of the questions Callif will tackle in Film Independent’s monthly video blog LEGAL EASE. For more LEGAL EASE columns, click here. If you have a question for attorney Lisa Callif, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lee Jameson / Film Education Coordinator
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