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I'm A Moron

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  • I'm A Moron

    When I shot my first movie, I didn't think about contracts till after the movie was complete. Of course an actress who had lines and was murdered in one scene refused to sign. I had to redo the scene. It was a pain.

    I swore I wouldn't let that happen again. Of course I did.

    There's 3 leads in this movie, I have all the footage and not one signed contract.

    I e-mailed the star and asked for the contract. She replied "I cannot sign this contract until "all my duties" are enumerated."

    This question comes from this part in the contract


    I, ______, hereby accept all of the conditions and provisions of this release form covering my work as actor on the movie tentatively titled "_______" and which is being directed by _________. Failure to complete my duties will result in the reimbursement to said ------ of financial complications caused by my failure to complete "all of my duties"* required as actor. The character I will portray is named "----------".

    I replied "I can't start Post until it's signed. The only thing left is ADR which isn't acting in front of a camera. It's standing behind a microphone, and that won't come until the edit is complete. You've done all you have to do in front the camera so your duties are 99.99% complete."

    She sends back "I know, but what I'm concerned about is that if I sign it, and you decide I haven't completed "all my duties" to your specifications, then I owe you money."

    Now she's saying "If I wasn't clear, i will sign the contract as long as "all my duties" is defined. That's perfectly legitimate."

    Did I not define the duties? Acting and ADR. I stated that her acting part was done. ADR isn't done and won't be till the movie is locked. But, I'm not starting post and then finding out she won't sign for some other stupid reason.

    But, if that's not enough. The DIRECTOR of the new footage and actor has refused to his contracts.

    What's the absolute worst, I found out my Producer (and friend of over 7 years) told him not to sign his contracts. So, I imagine my ex-friend is also partially responsible for the actress not signing.

    The most incredible part of this is, I copied my Producer's contract for his films.

    I have all the footage. Money has been spent and these people refuse to sign. Is there any precedent for suing? I just remember the Bassinger case. But, she didn't do the part. You'd think if someone shows up every day acts and then doesn't sign they should be responsible to some degree.

    Get SIGNED CONTRACTS before shooting. My God I'm a moron.

  • #2
    Hold up, why would your "producer" tell an actor working on your/their own project to not sign a contract? That doesn't make sense to me.

    Anyway, there's no going back now, and this appears to be an ugly situation. However, you can turn this into a positive thing by learning from your mistake and making sure you don't repeat it...again.

    Don't call yourself words like moron, dumbass, idiot, etc... That'll only hold you back. I believe in you, UniqueAmI.


    • #3
      It is extremely difficult to draft a retroactive contract. Unfortunately, you won't have any legal clout at this point unless you manage to get them to sign. Your actress has a point about the specifications of her "required duties". I think if you spell out the contract fundamentals (who, what, when, where, why, and how) in her duties clauses, she would be foolish to shy away from that. The more details in a contract, the more everyone knows where they stand.

      Also, steer away from legal language that would directly force the actor or crew member to pay compensatory damages to you. This will intimidate anyone who has to sign it. Instead, add the standard arbitration clauses that would allow you both to present your cases to a third-party abitrator who would decide the damages impartially.

      However, from my standpoint, this situation may be beneficial to you in that you are now not contractually obligated to pay any of these people a red cent or royalties at any point. But yes, I would make sure to get everything in detailed writing the next time around, preferably through an entertainment attorney (worth the money).


      • #4
        Thanks. Since I have the footage. Can these people who didn't sign ask for copies? Would I be obliged to give it to them?


        • #5
          IM going to read through this in the morning, and really through some advice your way - I also might have some contract that would be of great use for you
          Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue


          • #6
            Originally posted by UniqueAmI View Post
            Thanks. Since I have the footage. Can these people who didn't sign ask for copies? Would I be obliged to give it to them?
            No, without a written agreement, you owe them absolutely nothing. This is the upside to not having them locked into a contract. It works both ways. They may choose not to sign, but doing so waives their right to claim any compensation or perks whatsoever.