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Release Form

Involved in first low budget feature film as a producer. We are 3 producers. 1 wrote and also directed the film (1) , as well as investing own money. 2 Others (incl. me - 3 - have worked for deferred payment and brought on 70% of cast and location sponsors/set/costumes). The 3rd producer is also the lead actor (2).

There is a scene in the film of 5 lines causing conflict. 2 is refusing to do it, after it seemed it had been cut anyway, 1 will not compromise and wants it in.

1 fired 2 (remember they are also a producer not just an actor) without my consent. I managed to organise a meeting to find a compromise, non could be found, neither will back down. 2 walked finally. I demanded 2 be reinstated and we continue filming. I have rewritten the scene, offered options but 1 is saying it's not up to me, it is all 2s fault and nothing can be done and refuses to do the ultimate compromise and strike the scene and has once again said 2 is out.

Questions:
1. In what scenario could 1 be able to ride rough shod over the suggestions of the other 2 producers (hard cash vs. deferred payment and free work) or can we make him come to heel to get the film done? What are my rights as far as having a say in the outcome of this situation?
2. In what case and how could 2 be convinced to do this scene? Can something legal be enforced?
3. The nr. 2 in this scenario has not signed any release forms for his film footage and is in most scenes. Can 1 then use that footage if 2 does not give him permission? He wants major distribution to happen.
4. Can I step out of the film with no legal complications for me. I feel my work and my reputation is being completely abused and compromised in this scenario. As I understand if 2 enforces no release we have no film anyway, so 2 will always have the stronger case (whether he is behaving fairly or not).

Anyone with thoughts and help on a legal and managerial level please say. This is my first feature film as a producer, it's low budget with big dreams and I cannot convince 1 they need to compromise to have a viable product to sell and I no longer want to be involved if my demands and that of the other producer cannot be met.
 
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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Your numbering system is a bit confusing :)

I'm not a lawyer, but I've produced 2 low budget features and my thoughts are as follows:

1. Who owns the movie? This is separate from being a producer and should be made clear from the start. Who ever owns it has the final say.

2. Consider bringing in an objective 3rd party as a mediator. This is only worth doing if you can all agree in advance to listen to this person.

3. Walk away and move on to the next project. The biggest negative here, in my opinion, is that people will not have as much confidence in your ability to compete a project the next time that you approach them. But these things happen.
 
In my view, since there are no contracts and no release forms, and the script is not copyrighted or registered, the project is dead from a legal standpoint. Whoever claims ownership of the script can walk away and start a new project, and that's about it.

So it seems to me that the three of you have to put your egos aside and ask yourselves, "do we ever want to see this film finished?" If you do, you HAVE to sit down and negotiate with each other...and sign contracts this time.
 
Numbers - I know.
Well Number 1 owns it (writer, producer, director) . And is in conflict with Number 2 (who is the producer and lead actor and refusing to do the scene). I really don't care either way, I just want it done.
The breach is 1 fired 2 without my consent. 2 has not signed release forms.
2 and I have worked for deferred payment on this for 2 Years.
I managed to get them going again last week and talking again. Just last night nr. 1 sent out another inflammatory mail reneging on what he had suggested and what we had agreed re having a meeting, said he was changing the ending of the film and told us when the wrap up party would be.

I do not want him using my name or my work involved in this film. I have also brought cast and location sponsors to the film (1 of whom he using for his wrap party). I guess I'll have to schluck the latter. Though it does not make me happy. He overrides everything we do and discuss and any positive headway we then make. Now he is refusing to respond. I'd really like to know if I have some power here to make him change his attitude. He has no film if nr 2 refuses to allow him to use it right?
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I'd really like to know if I have some power here to make him change his attitude. He has no film if nr 2 refuses to allow him to use it right?
You have no power to make him change is attitude.

However, if there is no signed agreement with the actor then the
actor can refuse to allow the scenes with his likeness to be shown.
That doesn't stop the owner of the film - it allows the actor to sue.

Is that something the actor and you are prepared to do? The
writer-producer-director can enter festivals and even release it
without the actors contract. It is doubtful that a legit distributor will
take it, but there are many platforms available that don't require
an outside distributor. The actor needs to be prepared for a long and
complicated legal fight if he decides to sue.

This (indietalk) is a good place to form a plan - we have people of
differing views and varied experiences reading and posting - but at
some point you will likely need the advice of legal counsel. Currently
this is an emotional issue involving creative differences between
friends and all those feelings of betrayal and disloyalty. But it seems
like you want to take this into the legal arena by withholding legal
rights (likeness/personality) over the person who put up the money.

Here in the States that gets complicated and expensive. It could be
assumed that the actor, working on deferred payment and as "producer"
Involved in first low budget feature film as a producer. We are 3 producers. <snip> The 3rd producer is also the lead actor (2).
knew he was appearing in the project and thus consent is implied.
Do you know how that kind of thing works in the UK?
 
I don't, this is my first feature film as a producer. The producer/director is making ultimate decisions now which can harm the film and not taking into account the work others have put in. He wants to take it to big distributors and I have repeatedly warmed him of the dangerous waters he is treading in if that is his aim and he carries on with this. I refuse to work on the film until this is cleared up legally as I have no time to waste on flogging a potentially dead horse. Aside from the breach of faith and trust involved. I don't care if this scene gets done or not. It's 5 lines, I do care if the lead actor is removed and we have no film to promote as a result. Also I invited people into the project with a script I read. Now he is saying he has rewritten the ending and has scapped all further scenes with the lead actor in it. I have not seen this rewrite, he is not responding to our attempts to resolve the situation, ignoring messages, hangs up if you talk to him on the phone. I feel completely helpless and am very concerned for my work reputation at this juncture as I got those sponsors and actors involved.
 
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