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Contract Templates

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José Luis Arriaga
Contract Templates
on Mar 16, 2013 at 9:42:38 am

Need template for a Contract or Letter of Agreement for a documentory editing job? Does anyone have one? Have looked online but have not found anything simple.
Thank you

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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Contract Templates
on Mar 17, 2013 at 4:23:25 pm

You're asking for an awful lot without giving a lot. There are TONS of contracts and letters of agreement online. With a simple search in Google, I found hundreds. Now, you are looking for a simple one - I found those, too, but they're not for documentaries. Here's the deal: a letter of agreement and a contract are 2 completely different things. A contract can be binding, but a letter of agreement usually isn't beyond some basic statements and really functions about the same as your auto mechanic's short agreement you sign before they start to work on your car - it sounds official, but it probably won't hold up in court, though it rarely comes to that.

If you are doing a documentary for someone, you will use a contract. A LoA won't cut it, but it will get you started so you can bill for your time and services until a contract is signed by a certain date upon which they pay for all services you have performed to that point and you either go your separate ways or you sign a contract. That's about it. Past that, you will need a contract and I highly recommend spending a few bucks to hire a lawyer. Even a couple hundred bucks (think car - you'd spend a couple hundred to get your car running, right? Cuz, like most of us, you're screwed without a car) on a lawyer can save you thousands in the long run.

Now, if you just want a LoA, write it yourself:

Dear (client),

This letter will serve to establish a professional relationship between myself (include your company name as relevant) and (client or client's company name) wherein I will be performing the following services:

(List of services - be specific and remember the scope is only to get things rolling, but not to start shooting - you need a contract before you start shooting) - here, list some pre-prod services you will perform like writing, planning, establishing equipment and personnel costs, graphics, etc. Basically, you are developing this project, it's your property until a contract is signed and/or you get paid, and they are paying you to develop it to a certain point (through concept and some of pre-prod, but not actual production). Make sure to include that whether the client likes it or not, they have to pay you for the work you've done in this initial phase anyway. I would still talk to a lawyer about the wording, too.

The term of this agreement is for (set a drop dead date - this is the date at which they will sign a contract and production can start or no deal happens and they pay you for the work you've done to that point and go your separate ways) - no more than 60-90 days without a clear contract. (Client) agrees to pay the sum of ($xxxxxx?) for the services rendered above.

Signed, you and the client, include date and time and witnesses as applicable.

I've likely left some key stuff out of this LoA. I wrote my own contracts for a long time, borrowing from other contracts until I got screwed and I had nobody to blame, but me. Lessons learned and monies lost. Always talk to a lawyer. When you find a good one, they are your best friend.

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

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