If you are looking for some basic movie contracts and agreements for everything from optioning a book or a screenplay to hiring an actor to licensing music used in your finished film, you may find these boilerplate contracts useful. All can be easily cut and pasted into a Word document and are ready to modify to suit your specific needs.
DISCLAIMER: While we have used each of these agreements without incident, Cypress Films, Inc. accepts no responsibility or liability for your use of these agreements and has posted them here solely as a courtesy. We make no warranty, either express or implied, that these agreements are up-to-date and/or applicable to whatever purpose for which you intend to use them. In other words: Use these agreements at your own risk! Got it? We further recommend that you consult with an entertainment attorney whenever you enter into a formal or informal contract with another party*. By clicking on any of the links to the agreements below you automatically agree to the foregoing.
*Here's a law firm that seems to take an interest in the up-and-comers of the indie film world: Phillips Nizer LLP
This page is still under construction and will soon include even more yummy agreements.
Use this agreement when you are optioning a book directly from the book's author.
Crew Deal Memo - Non Union
A basic deal memo that will require considerable revision to fit the circumstances of your film. Be sure to read this one carefully -- you don't want to find yourself in the fourteenth hour with a tired and cranky crew and no pre-negotiated deal. That happened to me several years ago and it made for a rough few days before we negotiated a mutually agreeable deal.
Are you familiar with the concept of the "shop steward?" A shop steward is basically a crew member that the crew designates as their spokesman in negotiating with the producer. While its root is in union shops, there are many advantages to having a shop steward on a non-union film set, not least of which is that you always have a specific person to talk to and negotiate with when a question of crew overtime, turnaround or second meals comes up.
Your agreement with your composer will certainly differ in some respects from the terms contained in this example, but this is a good place to start. As with any of the deal memos, read this one carefully to be sure the terms specified reflect your intentions and means. As regards the latter, if you don't have a lot of cash handy, you will find the deferred compensation provisions useful, provided, of course, that your composer has enough faith in you to defer a sizable portion of his or her fee.
This deal memo is in substantially the same form as the crew deal memo (above). It can be readily adapted for other key crew members (eg, Production Designer, Costume Designer, Editor, Key Grip, etc.), but be sure that the basic terms, such as hours of work and turnaround provisions, stay the same across the board. You don't want to be in the position of having a six day workweek for your entire crew, except for the gaffer.
A general photo release for non-SAG background actors. Always have a few of these handy for the odd character that wanders into a shot.
This is a publishing, master use and synchronization license for using a song in a film. We have used this basic format for deals ranging from unsigned bands to major publishing companies. Note that this contract is for all rights to a song, both the specific recording (synch) and the underlying composition (publishing). In many cases, these rights will be controlled by two separate entities and will require two separate agreements. And note that you absolutely need both sets of rights if you are using an existing recording of a song. If you plan on rerecording the song yourself, you will only need the publishing rights. This is a viable option when you discover that having Eric Clapton sing Layla in your film is ten times as expensive as hiring your cousin to sing it. But, I'm sorry to say, you still can't afford Layla.
Revised: March 27, 2005