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talent releases & client-supplied talent

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Derek Fremdtalent releases & client-supplied talent
by on Oct 19, 2010 at 8:46:04 pm

I am about to begin production on a series of videos. As part of the deal, the client and I agreed that the client would supply and pay for on-camera talent. I asked the client if they had appropriate talent releases and they did not. They then contacted the talent agency who answered that the production company was responsible for obtaining releases and W9s from all the talent.

Several questions...if client is supplying talent, should it be their name on the releases and not the name of my production company?

If it is my name on the release am I opening myself up to legal issues regarding payment to talent?

Should I put both sets of names on the releases to CYA?

If I put my name on the release, should I include language regarding receipt of renumeration by client's name?


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Cory PetkovsekRe: talent releases & client-supplied talent
by on Oct 19, 2010 at 9:19:56 pm

[Derek Fremd]
if client is supplying talent, should it be their name on the releases and not the name of my production company?

I would put both. See below.

If it is my name on the release am I opening myself up to legal issues regarding payment to talent?

A "release" is a legal contract. You can put whatever you want (all parties agree to) in a contract. If your release specifies anything to do with payment (which it shouldn't), then yes you might. Instead it should say essentially, "we can use this footage however we want, wherever and whenever we want."

Should I put both sets of names on the releases to CYA?

A standard release "contract" is a waiver of liability for the principals in the project. If you want to release your production company from liability then you had better make sure you are in the contract either directly or indirectly.

I would just have my production company in there, then make sure one of the additional words would include my client in a reasonable definition (reasonable in court). Since the client is getting the copyright, but we both want to be released from liability I'd do something like:

The undersigned hereby gives to Corporate Video ("Producer"), its assigns, agents, licensees, affiliates, clients, principals and representatives the absolute right and permission to copyright, use, exhibit, display, print, reproduce....

Make sure it logically releases you and the client from both liability and releases any claim over copyright or permission to use the footage. Look up standard release forms and see how they are constructed; modify to suit. Check with an attorney for professional advice.


If I put my name on the release, should I include language regarding receipt of renumeration by client's name?

I would not put anything to do with money in the release. Let that be a separate agreement, if there is anything written at all.

If the client is paying them, then they need the W9s. However since you're a responsible production company, you can certainly print up blank w9s and make sure they all get filled out and turned into your client, ensuring each actor understands the client will be paying them directly.

What you are interested in is a release of liability and claim over footage. Don't make it messy by mentioning compensation or your client's and their relationship.

If you want, you can make another simple contract with verbiage that just makes the relationship clear; that they are contracted by the client and you have no relationship with them. However that's just kind of redundant. "Let's make an agreement that we have no agreement."

If on the other hand the client is only footing the bill, but paying you directly, and you are paying all the talent, then it's a completely different story all together and you are for sure liable and had better take steps to make sure to protect yourself.

BTW, beware of taking cues from the talent agency.

Cory

--
Cory Petkovsek
Corporate Video
http://www.CorporateVideoSD.com


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Todd TerryRe: talent releases & client-supplied talent
by on Oct 19, 2010 at 11:46:52 pm

The release should not say anything about money other than "...for compensation received..." which it should. It should indicate that payment has been (or will be) made, but not how much.

And... that talent agency is full of beans. Whomever is paying the client is the one responsible for tax forms, as well as releases. You can offer to get the releases signed just as a courtesy, but it should have nothing to do with the money.

This would seem to be one of those cases where the client fears you would just "mark up" the talent fees (which is a distinct possibility, we do), but is not in the normal business of casting talent and therefore doesn't know how things work... and is relying on the so-called expertise of the talent agency.

Here, if we cast and sign (and pay) the talent, then we get release forms. If, on the rare occasion that a client chooses to provide talent (which 9 times out of 10 is a mistake) and pay them directly, then we let them be responsible for releases.

I can think of at least three instances with projects produced by my company where client-casting has come back to bite them... through poor releases, or using an employee as talent who was later fired, or whatever. Of the talent we have cast ourselves hundreds of times, we have never had an issue.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Derek FremdRe: talent releases & client-supplied talent
by on Oct 20, 2010 at 1:44:27 pm

Another question. As this video production is for a non-profit to be used specifically for web and is a buyout should I include language to include something to the effect of "permission to use any in any non-broadcast manner and acknowledges that terms are buyout" or something to that effect?


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Todd TerryRe: talent releases & client-supplied talent
by on Oct 20, 2010 at 2:27:12 pm

Yes, the release should always include the usage terms.

Those may be limit to a specific project, a specific type of usage/delivery (broadcast, web or whatever), and a specific time period (i.e., often talent is contracted for 13-week periods, but you want to make sure they know when the period starts which might be a fair bit later than the actual shoot is).

Our general blanket release (the one we use for non-specific everyday projects) casts a very wide net. It basically says that we own the footage and the performance, and that we may use the talent's likeness and/or voice for any project we see fit in perpetuity. Frankly, that's a very broad release, and way back in my actor days I would have never signed one like that myself. However, we have never even once had talent balk at it, refuse to sign it, or even question it. Which surprises me.

Another thing... if you have minors as talent (anyone under 18) you must get releases from a parent or legal guardian. They can't sign the release themselves... obviously.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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