Film Agreement for Directors

If you’re offered a chance to be hired to direct a movie for a major studio or independent production company, you must be aware of the major deal points of a film agreement for directors.  It is also extremely important that you hire an experienced entertainment attorney to negotiate your film agreement for directors for you and to review all drafts of the film agreement for directors to make sure that you rights are protected.

The major deal points of a film agreement for directors include but are not limited to compensation; services provided; and “cutting authority.”

Compensation:  There are two types of compensation that are generally provided in a screenwriter employment contract.  The first type of compensation is fixed compensation.  Fixed compensation is your guaranteed salary.  If you are hired by a signatory to the Director’s Guild of America (“DGA”) Basic Agreement (“DGABA”) then you cannot be paid less than the BA minimum for your directing services – of course you can always been paid more.  To find out what the DGABA minimums are, you can go the DGA website.  If you are hired by a non-signatory, then your fixed compensation can be less than the DGABA minimum.

The second type of compensation is contingent compensation.  This means that your compensation is contingent on certain factors.  The most common type of contingent compensation is called “net profits.”   Contingent compensation is a very difficult area to negotiate and it is crucial that you hire an experienced entertainment attorney to negotiate for you.

Whether you are you are offered employment by a signatory to the DGABA or a non-signatory to the BA, you should hire an experienced entertainment attorney to negotiate for you.

Services:  You will be hired to provide directing services during pre-production (starting approximately two months before the start of production; it involves budgeting; scheduling; casting; rehearsals; finding locations; basically everything you need to be in place before you begin actual production of the movie); production (the actual filming of the movie, could take anywhere from three months or longer) and post-production (getting the movie ready to be shown; adding special effects; music; and everything else you needed).  The issues for negotiation here can range from the amount of time for each of three periods and whether or not you as director, will be exclusive (can you work on any other projects/films during these periods) to the movie.  It is crucial that you hire an experienced entertainment attorney to negotiate these issues for you.

Cutting Authority:  When filming is completed on a movie, you, as the director, will put together a version of the film (along with the film editor – under your directions).  This is called a “cut” of the movie.  Under the DGABA, you are guaranteed the first cut (commonly known as the “Director’s Cut”) without any interference from the producer or studio or anyone.  However, the Director’s Cut is not the Final Cut (the version of the movie that will actually be shown in the theatres) of the movie.  You need an experienced entertainment attorney to negotiate to provide you with the ability to make more than one cut of the movie and perhaps even get you final cut.

If you are hired by a non-signatory to the DGABA, then you are not guaranteed the Director’s Cut unless you provide for it in your contract.  It is essential that you hire an experienced entertainment attorney to make sure that you get your Director’s Cut and more cuts and maybe even final cut.

This is just a basic introduction to a film agreement for directors.  Again, if you are offered a job as a movie director, it is crucial that you hire an experienced entertainment attorney to represent you.

For further information and a free consultation regarding a film agreement for directors, contact Richard Freiman at (818) 378-3530 or via the form on the right.