Indiefilmlaw's Blog
Ideas, Inspiration and Legal Resources for Artists, Filmmakers, Producers and Film Students

Aug
04

Girish Kasaravalli Hopeful About Future of Indie Cinema
India West

Asked about the viability of indie and parallel cinema at the box office, Kasaravalli said, “The commercial aspect depends on the filmmaker. He has made a film.

France’s New Film Crew Wage Law Faces Legal Challenge
Hollywood Reporter

France’s New Film Crew Wage Law Faces Legal Challenge From The Association of Film Producers (l’APC), the Union of Independent Producers (SPI) and others.

NYC Independent Film Festival is Gearing Up for Its Fourth Year
Consumer Electronics Net

Theyre a part of the NYC Independent Film Festival. The Fourth Annual NYC Independent Film Festival celebrates the art of filmmaking. Whether made by a …

Indie cinema’s success will boost art films in India: Girish
Business Standard

The Indie filmmakers will get an opportunity to make movies independently. They will try to release themselves from the shackles of norms set up by the industry.

Catch up with Fort Myers Film Festival and “Missed It Mondays!”
Naples Daily News (blog)

The Fort Myers Film Festival is an intelligent independent filmmaker’s preferred event to create, unite and showcase the finest artistic cinematic works.

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May
24

Entertainment Law Seminar: What In-House Lawyers Must Know About Exploiting Creative Content 

Chicago’s leading Entertainment Law firm, Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler, is pleased to announce its inaugural Entertainment Law seminar.

This seminar, geared for in-house counsel tasked with managing a broad range of Intellectual Property, Marketing, Branding and Promotions efforts, deals with the role of attorneys and agents, personal and intellectual property rights, motion picture production and distribution, television rights and procedures, literary publishing, and music publishing and sound recordings. The seminar will also examine technological developments and contract negotiation tips.

This Seminar is FREE, but it is INVITATION-ONLY and currently limited to in-house counsel. Space is limited! Contact David Adler at dadler[at]lsglegal.com to get your invitation.

When:

Thursday, June 20 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Where:

Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler
203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2550
CHICAGO, IL 60601

May
02

The Business of Independent Film

For the past few years, the business of creating independent film has faced many challenges. Outside financing has suffered from the “Great Recession” as banks stopped lending, Federal Section 181 film tax credits have evaporated,  State film Tax credit programs have imploded from scandal and debate rages about the effectiveness of such programs. Three of the six major studios axed subsidiaries that had specialized in buying independent films. Consumer spending is transitioning from buying movies to simply renting them.

However, sales at film festivals continue to inspire filmmakers. So do seasoned, household-name producers. I was recently turned on to the text of Steven Soderbergh‘s speech at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Soderbergh discusses the state of the film industry and fellow indie film producer Ted Hope shares how encouragement and inspiration from Soderbergh kept him in production.

The full transcript of director Steven Soderbergh‘s keynote at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival can be found here.

Every independent filmmaker should listen.

Apr
09

Five Legal Questions To Ask BEFORE Crowd-funding You Next Film (or Creative) Project

Intro

I recently had the opportunity to share the stage at a Chicago VentureShot Community panel presentation on crowdfunding an independent film project. My client successfully raised enough funds to produce his film through the Crowdfunding site KickStarter.com. Due to the unpredictable life with three small children I was not able to physically attend although I did participate in real-time using Twitter. What follows is a series of questions that were discussed during he panel.

If you are considering using a crowd-funding platform (e.g. Kickstarter) to raise funds for your production, here are five questions at you should ask BEFORE you launch your campaign.

1. Are there legal distinctions to using Kickstarter to collect funding for projects rather than doing it the traditional way of seeking investments from friends, family, fools or private investors?

Yes. The biggest difference between the (current) crowd funding method and the traditional equity-investor model is the value proposition being offered in the crowd-funded model. I say “current” because crowd-funding today does permit solicitation or sale of an ownership interest.

2. What are the legal steps to protecting projects before putting them on a Crowdfunding site?

I recommend my clients look at three areas of legal protection before putting a project on a Crowdfunding site.

First, consider forming a legal entity to protect you, your partners and the assets of the business. The most common entities are corporations and limited liability companies.

Second, do a trademark clearance search to make sure the brand names you want to use (e.g. the name of the production company and/or the name of the Film (or project)) are not in use by someone else. Nothing is worse than investing thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars in a project only to learn that you have to change your name.

Third, make sure you have a clear chain-of-title for all the eighths you need to exploit. This means properly documents and executed Option Agreements, Script Purchase Agreements, Talent / Cast & Crew Agreements, Right of Publicity Waivers, Music/Film Score clearances and any other waivers or releases necessary to reproduce, promote, distribute and creative derivative works from the Film.

3. Are there legal upper bounds to funding through Kickstarter specifically?

Wile there are no dollar limits on the amount of money that can be raised using Kickstarter, there are limitations. For example, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Also, once a funding goal is reached, the project must be started or the money must be returned to the backers.

4. What are the legalities of taxation on film projects through Kickstarter? A they different per state?

Although the federal Film Tax incentives are no longer available many states still offer some. Each state is different and many require a certain amount of money be spent in the state, in a certain period of time, in order to qualify for the incentive. Consult a qualified lawyer to determine eligibility for Film Tax Incentives.

5. If you can’t finish a project that has been fully funded on Kickstarter, what legal liability comes into play?

Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use requires completion of project and fulfillment of offers. Otherwise, one must refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. Crowdfunding sites recognize that projects may not adhere to the original timetables and that delivery goals may need adjustment. If the problems are severe enough that the creator can’t fulfill their project, creators need to find a resolution. Steps could include offering refunds, detailing exactly how funds were used, and other actions to satisfy backers.

CrowdFunding describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money via the Internet to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler has a decades long history assisting Filmmaker and Film productions clients (funding portals, broker-dealers, technology solution providers, software developers, investors and entrepreneurs). We provide guidance on regulatory and industry trade association compliance.

Mar
13

What does it mean to be a creative professional in Chicago? That is the topic for discussions during the Chicago Tribune’s Trib Nation event Chicago Forward: The Future of the Arts in Chicago being held tonight, March 13, 2013 at 6:00 PM. In the Chase Auditorium at 10 South Dearborn. The event proposes to discuss the “arts and culture scene in Chicago.” You can register here.

Panelists include Chicago Tribune editorial page editor Bruce Dold and critic Chris Jones as moderators, among with celebrity chef Rick Bayless, Chicago’s cultural commissioner Michelle Boone, artist and playwright Tony Fitzpatrick and renowned architect Jeanne Gang.

While organizations such as the Arts & Business Council of Chicago and the Illinois Arts Council, have long held conversations in the community around identification of the basic challenges facing artists, filmmakers, actors, musicians, and other creative professionals, hopefully this panel will identify actionable initiatives that offer real solutions to shared needs.

I am attending and will be live tweeting via the hashtag #ChicagoForward. Follow me on twitter at @adlerlaw.

Please feel free to tweet your questions and include your comments below. I will post a follow up with highlights after the event.

Feb
20

Are you getting the most out of your online marketing efforts? Last year, Google announced a change to its search rankings algorithm, lowering results for known pirate sites. Critics asked why the company would not do the same for Youtube, since that site is widely viewed as a repository for pirated films and music.

Read the full post at VoxIndie

Do you have questions about filmmaking, marketing and distributing films? We have answers! Learn more about ecommerceattorney.com and our media and entertainment services.

Dec
15

IndieFilmLaw’s Curated List of People, News & Events For Independent Film and Filmmaking

“Blood on the Bayou” made by Abbeville filmmaker, features Abbeville actors
The Kaplan Herald

“It’s been one heck of ride!” said Abbeville filmmaker Russell Hebert. It took him a year and a half long to make this Independent Film “Blood on the Bayou” from pre-production all the way to this week’s world premiere, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Filmmaking in India is all about numbers, not script: Srinivas
Times of India

Though the independent film making movement is on the rise, the case of distribution is still a big concern. This is because distributors (and the laws that govern them) are still stuck in an archaic structure.

American Film Institute announces 2012 AFI Awards selections
Examiner.com

LOS ANGELES, CA, December 10, 2012 – The American Film Institute (AFI) today announced the official selections of AFI AWARDS 2012 – the awards season event favored by artists and entertainment executives for its intimacy and collaborative recognition.

Light shines on independent filmmaking
The Independent

Actors Jude Law, Michael Gambon and Ben Drew were among the film-makers who turned out last night for the Moet British Independent Film Awards at Old Billingsgate Market in London. Jude Law was at the gongs to receive the Variety Award.

Very Independent Filmmaking, why?
noho arts district

Most people don’t make money from independent film and certainly not at the very, very independent end of the market. Even if you can make a film and market it, the chances of really making money unless it gets picked up and distributed by the big guys.

‘Broken,’ ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ Lead British Independent Film
Video · Filmmaking. « LA Film Critics Awards · Box Office: ‘Hyde Park’ Leads Debuts · British Independent Film Award Winners · ‘Sugar Man’ Tops IDA Awards …

Downtown West and Knoxville Horror Film Fest

Regal Cinemas Downtown West and Knoxville Horror Film Fest with help from Knoxville Film and the Secret City Film Fest are teaming up for a filmmaking …

Nov
15

‘Elfquest’ Fan-Filmmakers Officially Acquire The Comic’s TV/Film Rights
ComicsAlliance

After years of waiting for a big studio production of ElfQuest, fans and web TV producers Stephanie Thorpe and Paula Rhodes took matters into their own hands by creating their own short film based on the indie comics perennial by Wendy and Richard Pini.

Pontchartrain Film Festival debuts to rave reviews
NOLA.com

On day two, a Filmmakers Forum was led by independent film producer Jed Riffe of California and included Louisiana filmmakers Courtney Egan and Allison Bohl, UNO Film Department Artist-in-Residence Danny Retz, and OTAC Digital Arts instructors Bob …

Filmmaker Rob Savage in Strings success at the Raindance Film Festival
This is Gloucestershire

And the movie, Strings, which he started working on two years ago, has now been nominated for an honour at this year’s British Independent Film Awards in December. Rob, a film student at the University of Gloucestershire, wrote, directed, filmed and …

Budding filmmakers planting roots in Houston area
MyFox Houston

Now, small studios, production companies and animators are luring independent film projects with the promise of enthusiastic local support. “The community model, and what we’re doing here … we try to get the economics right,” film producer Frank Eakin …

Wild Rose Film Festival underway in Des Moines
Radio Iowa

Kim Busbee is director and co-founder of the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival, now in its 10th year in Des Moines, which showcases actors and filmmakers from Iowa — and from around the globe. There are over 400 entries and 37 films screening.

Oct
16

A federal district court in Tennessee has determined that cast decisions are protected by the First Amendment against claims of racial discrimination under Sec. 1981. This was a case of first impression.

Reality television is so popular with both audiences and participants that prospective contestants are suing to get on TV. Recently, two such men filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, in what may have been a bit of strategic forum shopping. Both the U.S. Supreme Court and California courts have ruled that applying such anti-discrimination laws to works of creative expression such as television shows can violate the First Amendment. The men, both African-Americans claimed their consitutionally-protected rights under the federal § 1981 statute and Cal. Civ. §§ 51, 51.5. The men had unsuccessfully applied to be cast as The Bachelor in the ABC television program of the same name.

The novel complaint was filed as a class action on April 18, 2012, against ABC. Plaintiffs made their claims on behalf of the class of all people of color who had unsuccessfully applied to star as either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, alleging that they were the victims of ABC’s racial discrimination. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that ABC has intentionally and as a matter of corporate policy refused to cast people of color in the role of the Bachelor and Bachelorette for all 23 seasons of the two programs.

The court dismissed the case on First Amendment grounds. Allowing the case to proceed would have the effect of regulating the content of speech, with the government effectively telling people what they can and cannot depict on TV or speak about in public.

Sep
20

Lesson Of Toronto: Indie Filmmakers Better Keep Budgets Low As Distribs Grow 
Deadline.com
Now, the major agents came home happy because they sold almost all the films they crossed the border with. But the actual deals are telling us something about the economy of independent film making.

Lady Filmmakers Film Festival Coming to Beverly Hills Sept. 28-30th
The Beverly Hills Courier
Lady Filmmakers Film Festival recognizes and celebrates the tremendous contribution of women to film and importance in the collaborative spirit amongst men and women,” says Viayra.

US Embassy presents independent film festival
Nicaragua Dispatch
The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua will be presenting a selection of 12 films made by independent U.S.filmmakers during its first independent film festival in Managua, Sept. 26-Oct. 3. Additional screenings will be held in Masaya and Matagalpa.

Movie Review: Robot & Frank
Geeks of Doom
Robot & Frank is an amalgam of two very different types of films. On one hand, it’s the kind of quirky, indie drama you would expect from a young, first-time filmmaker.

Can Slated’s matchmaking efforts change Hollywood’s film financing game?
L.A. Biz
It’s a bold venture that may offer a viable solution to matching indie film projects with suitable investors in an online space. Independent filmmakers often struggle finding connections to financiers who can legitimately launch a production.

A Nebulous Stew of Whatever
Santa Fe Reporter
In independent filmmaking there’s a comforting near-truth: Good independent filmsare more likely to see release than bad independent films. Indie pictures don’t have gargantuan marketing budgets to cover a movie’s mediocrity—or outright badness.

’25 New Faces’ Kicks Off Tonight at Belcourt with An Oversimplification of Her 
Nashville Scene (blog)
On CL and in the Scene’s Fall Guide last week, we noted that Filmmaker magazine has made Nashville one of only four U.S. stops on its “25 New Faces of Independent Film” tour. That tour lands in Nashville tonight at The Belcourt.

Documentary places an accent on harmonious indie scene
Montreal Gazette
Documentary places an accent on harmonious indie scene  And it’s an important point for the Montreal filmmaker, who recently moved to San Francisco (after her boyfriend, Sylvain Carle, nabbed a high-profile job at Twitter’s head office.

“HOLLOW” (Movie Review)
FANGORIA
As found footage settles itself in as the new raison d’être of indie genre filmmakers, we start to see it mold and blend with time-honored tradition (the anthology, the ghost story, etc). In HOLLOW (available now on VOD from Tribeca Film).

INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK ADVICE | Filmmaker Magazine
By Jesse Epstein
Hello, Jesse Epstein here. I’m blogging on behalf of “Team Skeeter” at the IFP Independent FilmWeek. We’ve been here with our feature documentary.
Filmmaker Magazine

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