Friday, January 9, 2015

Submitting Projects to Studios

Entertainment Lawyer Question and Answer Forum:

Welcome to this week's Entertainment Lawyer Q&A, published by The Film & Television Law Quarterly and the entertainment law firm of BLAKE & WANG P.A. Each week an entertainment lawyer will respond to reader questions and publish the best discussions.

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Why do television networks and film studios require film producers and television producers to submit projects through either agents or an entertainment lawyer?

Answer by Brandon Blake - Entertainment Lawyer:

There are a number of different rationales for why entertainment companies of all kinds require film producers and television producers to submit new projects through an agent or entertainment lawyer, which range from the practical to the obstructionist.

For practical purposes, entertainment companies have a legitimate concern about liability. Copyright infringement suits are common, and once an entertainment company has received a pitch for a television series or film production it is going to be potentially more liable for a copyright infringement lawsuit. In order to reduce this risk, entertainment companies want a trusted third-party to have documented the pitch. If the film producer or television producer has a well-known agency or an entertainment lawyer submit the project, there is going to be a record of exactly what was submitted, by whom, and when. If a lawsuit ever materializes, there will be a third-party with evidence as to what happened. That is also beneficial for the film producer or television producer.

From a convenience stand point, television networks and film studios have another motive. This rationale is based on understanding what it is like to receive 10 to 20 thousand submissions per year from film producers or television producers, looking to get an entertainment project made. It is a daunting task to review so much material, so television networks and film studios want the agent or entertainment lawyer to do some of the work for them. By requiring submission through an agent or entertainment lawyer, the television network or film studio is making the producer do part of the work, having an experienced entertainment representative review the material and quite probably make suggestions and changes before the materials is submitted.

Finally, the requirement to submit through an agent or entertainment lawyer creates another hurdle to surmount before the material gets reviewed. This reduces the number of submissions as some percentage of television producers and film producers will lack the time and financial resources to obtain an entertainment representative to submit the project.

Rightly or wrongly, agent or entertainment lawyer representation has become a necessity when dealing with the large, bureaucratic media companies today.

As with any legal matter, please do not make a decision about complex matters without consulting an experienced entertainment attorney first. I have been representing feature film projects and television series for more than 14 years. Please feel free to contact my office about a quote.

- By Brandon Blake, Entertainment Lawyer

About the Editor:

Brandon A. Blake is an entertainment lawyer and producer who works with Academy Award winning actors, directors and filmmakers. A complete biography is available online.

About the Entertainment Lawyer Q&A: The Entertainment Lawyer Q&A does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is the information treated as confidential. Responses to selected questions will be made public and shared with our subscribers. All entertainment law information is informational in nature and is not intended to be acted on without entertainment lawyer counsel.

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