By Janine McGoldrick
You are a producer and due to the pandemic your project – be it in development, pre-production, production or post stage – is on hold. What can you do now to make sure all the pieces are in place when the industry opens back up? Stacey Smith of CinePointe Advisors suggests preparing for delivery. Why? It is a crucial, final step needed to ready a film for distribution and GET PAID! However, delivery is often an afterthought in financing agreements, production budgets and workflows.
Stacey recently provided NYWIFT members with a wonderful virtual seminar Demystifying Film Delivery: What Every Producer Should Know. A crash course on the basics of film delivery, she reviewed the terminology, explained how to negotiate the terms to distributors and provided guidance in avoiding common pitfalls related to legal and document delivery.
Here are some key learnings from her talk:
- Delivery is the provision of all things contractually required by the financier, distributor, or sales agent in order to exploit its rights in a motion picture. It is more than just providing a copy of the film, it includes talent and crew agreements, insurance and other legal contracts as well as marketing and promotional materials.
- Think about delivery DAY 1! At least as early as pre-production. No budget is complete without delivery costs.
- There are three subsets for delivery: physical elements for distribution; paper elements, which are all documents necessary to satisfy that the distributor has legal rights; and marketing elements, materials needed to properly promote the film.
- When you contract with a distributor who is financing the film they will provide a schedule/list of items that need to be delivered. This schedule is negotiable but production lawyers won’t help you with this, it is the producer’s job to manage.
- As you negotiate the delivery schedule with your distributor be mindful of hard contractual delivery dates and payment timings as you don’t want language that leaves things solely at their decision; opt for majority payment when essential delivery is made, if your holdback is too large you may not have enough to finish the film; make sure items in the schedule line up with your main distribution agreement.
- You should do a full review of the delivery schedule with post production facility, and ideally a delivery consultant, before you sign your agreement. A post facility can also give you the most up to date specs you’ll need before you start production.
- Make sure all production personnel are up to speed on requirements. Determine who’s responsible for each category of item delivery and make plan for organizing all production documents before wrap.
- Keep a spreadsheet documenting delivery of each item, the date, who it was sent to, the receipt, method of delivery etc. and save all emails/cover notes.
- Delivery is always challenging. After years on the job Stacey is still experiencing and learning new things. So relax and give yourself a break!
If you are looking for more guidance on deliverables for your project you can reach out to CinePointe Advisors. The company was founded on the belief that the art of filmmaking must be supported by a sound business strategy in order to succeed in today’s competitive and ever-changing market. Their team works with financiers and producers to provide the business guidance, tools and support and tailored services that match each client’s needs and budget requirements.
Learn more at www.cinepointe.com.
NYWIFT produces 50+ professional development programs like this one throughout the year. See what’s coming up next and register at nywift.org/events.
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