Producing your first short film? A few legal considerations before you land on set.

Embarking on the journey of producing a short film is an exciting venture, but it comes with its share of legal considerations. In terms of the business and legal affairs, there are some crucial legal points and issues that will help you navigate the complexities of producing a short film in Ireland.

1. Clear Chain of Title: A Producer’s Cornerstone

Any financial support you seek for your short film will likely involve taking a deed of charge or an assignment of copyright. Ensure you have a clear chain of title, demonstrating that you have the necessary rights in the material to be financed. This includes an assignment of copyright, a sufficient licence, a waiver of moral rights, and a waiver of injunctive relief. Properly executed documents will only the potential of your project.

2. Understanding Copyright: Safeguarding Your Creative Work

Copyright encompasses various parts in your project, perhaps the screenplay, music, tapes, photos, or contributions from performers, directors, and producers. Remember, in Ireland, copyright is transferable or assignable in writing, lasting for 70 years from the death of the last director, writer, or composer. Be aware of moral rights, including the right to paternity, integrity, and false attribution, which cannot be assigned but must be waived.

3. Navigating Contracts: Key Considerations

A legally binding contract is really really important and should include a waiver of moral rights and ideally injunctive relief. The latter ensures that any claims are limited to damages, allowing you to complete and exploit your project without the threat of an injunction. Differentiate between an assignment (ownership) and a licence (permission), and negotiate these terms carefully. 

4. Public Portrayal and Permission: Mitigating Risks

While intellectual property infringement is a concern, the greater risk lies in the public portrayal of individuals. Ensure you have permission from anyone visible or referenced in your production to avoid potential legal challenges. Defending against such claims can be long, arduous and costly.

5. Clearance of On-Screen Elements: A Rule of Thumb

Clear everything visible in your production, from background items to directly referenced materials. This rule of thumb applies to photographs, books, or any other items appearing on screen.

6. Dealing with Sales Agents and Sales Reps: Know the Difference

Distinguish between sales agents and sales reps, understanding that a sales agent acts on your behalf in distribution agreements, while a rep brings deals to you. Grant exclusive licences during specific periods, and beware of upfront payments; reputable agents and reps recouping expenses from gross receipts.

These legal considerations are vital to the success of your short film production. Best of luck!!!! 

Your legal preparedness, the work before production, will ensure a smoother journey from production to successful exploitation of your film. Get your house in order and get making a film!