Paul Walker’s Tragic Death Underscores Filmmakers’ Need for Key Man Insurance
News of Paul Walker’s death was tragic and unsettling. As an avid car enthusiast, I am a big fan of the “Fast” franchise of adrenaline pumping car chase movies. I’m sure I join his many fans in mourning our loss.
Which got me thinking about whether the installment of the film franchise in which he was starring, “Fast and Furious 7” would be completed. While producers often commission rewrites in the process of making a film, the loss of a key figure in the story line highlights an often-overlooked component of film production: key person insurance.
As Production counsel, one of the many line items on my task list is a slot for insurance. In addition to general commercial liability insurance, I also counsel clients to obtain “key person” insurance (also known as “key man” insurance) to insure against this exact scenario. This type of Insurance may also protect against loss of other key individuals involved in the production. Like many enterprises, film production relies in a variety of key people – writers, directors, consultants – the loss of whom would have a material adverse effect on the film.
In the case of “Fast 7”, it will be interesting to see how, or if, the project continues since that decision may be up to the insurance carrier, according to a recent Hollywood Reporter article. Even though much of the movie has been filmed, many action sequences have not.
While the current producer, Universal, has indicated its desire to continue the project, the insurance carrier may have the final say. At this point, the financial risks such as costs to edit the script, screen and cast new talent, and finish filming will fall to the insurer. The decision to continue filming in the hope that release of the finished movie will generate enough revenue to offset those costs, is balanced against the decision to end production and write-off the cost of the insurance payout.
Clients sometimes laugh at my over-cautious approach to identifying and protecting against risks in film production. This unfortunate tragedy highlights how real, and unexpected, these risks can be.
If you are planning to produce a film or have already commenced production, feel free to contact me for a free consultation. It’s never too late to take a second look at business structure, contracts and other risk mitigation techniques.
I can be reached at (866) 734-2568 or dadler (at) lsglegal.com
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