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Old March 18th, 2011, 12:26 PM   #1
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Creative Control Contract

Hello,
I'm currently in the early production stages of a documentary that will follow someone as they run for a competition title. In order for us to get access to this competition, we need to assure the owner that we won't misrepresent her contest or the people in attendance. She's concerned about the final project reflecting poorly on her contest or the people involved in it. We're in the beginning stages of negotiating her involvement in the approval of the final film. She isn't giving us money to produce this, but she seems to want Executive Producer privileges. As the Director and Editor, I obviously don't want to give up creative control, especially to someone without a history in film. But I also respect that she doesn't want to get burned. I'm looking for resources or advice in how to draw up a contract that basically states that I retain creative control and final cut privileges as long as she approves that her contest isn't misrepresented and that we aren't slanderous to those involved.

I've never had to deal with anything like this before and have no idea where to start on the legality end of it. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old March 19th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #2
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Re: Creative Control Contract

"I'm looking for resources or advice in how to draw up a contract that basically states that I retain creative control and final cut privileges as long as she approves that her contest isn't misrepresented and that we aren't slanderous to those involved. "

You have just given her final cut. Your phrase "As long as she approves that....." Gives her the right to say "I don't approve."

If you really want to maintain final cut - simply agree to provide her a copy of the rough cut. You'll do your best to 'address any concerns' she might have. But final cut resides with you. Is she a lawyer? Who will be the arbiter of what SHE determines is 'slanderous to those involved'?

You can sit down with her, and explain your vision and goals clearly. You can listen to HER vision and goals. You can agree that if there is a conflict - you will work to resolve that conflict in a specified manner. But if you maintain final cut - it's your call. If that's a deal breaker for her - or you, then revisit the concept.

Best of luck.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 10:37 PM   #3
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Re: Creative Control Contract

Maybe you have this covered:
All you have to do is draw up a release form that addresses her fears or issues, without giving away creative control. Unless you are desperate, you shouldn't give away any creative rights at all, under any circumstances.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 03:59 PM   #4
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Re: Creative Control Contract

Thanks for your input. After thinking about it more, I realized I wasn't willing to compromise my creative control. I talked with her again today and feel much better about it. It seems like we're on the same page. She doesn't want anything to do with the creative process of the project. She simply doesn't want her event or her people misrepresented. So now I just need to figure out how to draw up a contract that states we won't exploit or misrepresent her or her event, etc, but still retain creative control and final cut privileges. Has anyone seen any examples that I can pull from? I don't really know what to search for in a web search, even.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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Re: Creative Control Contract

I think what you're looking for is more of a 'release' than a contract. Tons of 'em online. Do a google search for "Documentary Release Forms"

Here's one for instance -

http://www.newpaltz.edu/sponsored_pr...deorelease.pdf

Note the paragraph which states:

The filmmaker/photographer agrees to retain the integrity of the interviewee's image and
voice, neither misrepresenting the interviewee's words nor taking them out of context.
-----

I should think some wording along those lines, might go some ways to alleviating her concerns.
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