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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Delivery Nightmares or What the hell is a Title Report Anyways??

Let this stand as a cautionary tale. I shot a movie four years ago. We sold it and begun delivery in April of 2008. Today, over 2 years later there are still delivery problems with the title.

Sometimes on a low budget production there are certain legal items the production cannot afford, such as E&O insurance. Now a distributor will not put a movie out without said insurance and it is the producer’s responsibility to get it. However, if a distributor wants the movie, many times they will pony up the cash for the insurance and it will come out of the producer’s backend. Cool right? Well, this still doesn’t absolve the producer of the other responsibilities. For example, he still has to obtain a Title Report, this is a report that needs to be drawn up by a lawyer in order for a movie to obtain E&O. It’s not free, but also not overly expensive. You also have to get a Copyright Report, not
to be confused with the Copyright Registration. Not to mention cast/crew contracts (they really do look at them), certificate of origin, letter of restrictions, statement of unions used, ect, ect, ect, ect...

These two little forms (copyright and title) still continue to plague the delivery of the movie I shot four years ago. Why didn’t you just take care it you may ask? Well, I didn’t know. I had a producer who was telling me that it was being handled, it was handled, I’ll handle it. Not necessarily in that order.
Well, it hasn’t been handled and now the US distributor of the movie is withholding royalty reports (big whoop) and royalties (wait! That’s my money.)

I made the huge mistake of believing my ex-producer when he said "they're being taken care of."

As a writer/director I don’t want to be involved in the legal aspects of delivery. I don’t want to be involved in delivery at all. But, on low budget productions we have to wear many hats we don’t want to. It’s all part of the deal. I could’ve and should’ve been more involved with the delivery items and have been since. I no longer take I’ll handle it as an answer, I now need to see proof of these transactions and in a timely manner.

It’s good to be able to trust and count on people, but you have to choose wisely and until you do completely trust your partner or producer, you have to double-check everything.

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