Contracts and production agreements
by Jason Olsen on Jan 9, 2005 at 5:33:26 pm
I am currently talking to a potencial client about handling there work for a year long duration. I talked to them about an contract that would make me the only person to handle there work. If they did this I could give them a contract rate. I want to make sure this contract is ligit and has legal wheight if he breaks this contract.(no saying he will) should I make up my own agreement or look for professional help? If he or I break the agreement the other party would be intitled to sue for x amount. Has anyone out there dealt with this situation? I would love to here your thoughts, stories and anything that may help me to handle this the best way possable.
First, and with all due respect, use your spell check before you post. I don’t want to seem hoity-toity or smug but reading your message was terrible, and if your contract is written anything like this, it won’t be to your advantage.
Now, with a family full of attorney’s and a pretty good handle on the law as used in this arena, you should read the following as a fairly reliable bit of information and use it at your convenience. An agreement that “allows” you to sue them for “X amount” isn’t legal anywhere in the United States unless you’re married to them, literally, and those prenuptial agreements aren’t legal unless the state in which you live supports them, so steer clear of that. You may create a legally binding contract that states a full amount for your services or the estimated value of said services over the next year that either is representative of your best estimates or is made via dutiful research, but that has to be stated as a “service agreement” versus an intangible figure due upon disillusion. That’s why repossession contracts are so iron-clad. Sue them for the timeliness of the payment amount instead of the full amount as an individual sum. Generally, any judge who respects the law would look at a contract with a predetermined “payout” based solely on an allowance of funds to sue for and throw that case out immediately. What you need to do is find a local attorney who can word your text so that there is a ceiling amount for your services based on a monthly fee arrangement. With that, you can go before a judge and say quite confidently that, “Our agreement was such that I was under contract for a predetermined amount of time and that time was worth (insert dollar amount here) to me. Since that contract was not honored, I am entitled to the agreed upon monthly fee for “X” months. That total fee is (insert amount)”. If you need a bit more flexibility, you can word it so that there is a monthly agreed upon fee limit, or basin/ceiling or a itemized account for billing should your services be less than that amount so that you could recoup the itemized amount for each month of work completed and paid, and every month after that point would be decided by the judge. You would either get the entire monthly fee, or some median of the amounts previously paid to you and that monthly maximum. The law is very tricky work and you need a legitimate attorney to word everything for you for your own protection. Any guesswork on this and you might actually do yourself a LOT more harm than you would good.
So, in conclusion, my best advice would be to get a professional to word a template for you with just such an agreement and then build the specifics as you need them per client.
Michael Munkittrick Managing Creative Director
Spiral Design Studios/DieselVFX
Re: Contracts and production agreements by galt on Jan 10, 2005 at 6:14:26 am
1. The advice to hire a lawyer is excellent.
2. Arbitraily set penalty amounts can in fact be pre-negotitiated in a contract. The term is "liquidated damages" and judges generally accept the amounts without question. Then the only issue for the judge (jury) is whether it applies.
Re: Contracts and production agreements by Timothy Allen on Jan 12, 2005 at 5:51:28 am
Hire the attorney. It won't take more than a few days to draft, won't cost that much, and will be worth the fee.
Your attorney will not only help you word the contract, but can alsohelp you decide which avenue you would prefer to take if either party is in default. (For instance, there may be reasons why you would not want to spell out a "liquidated damages" schedule.)