Essential Things to Know about Film Production Agreements

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Behind every successful film is a well-executed pre-production plan. We cannot minimize the importance of pre-production planning and trustworthy contracts for content creators. It allows producers to efficiently manage and bring together all the moving pieces surrounding the entire filmmaking process into a cohesive product.

Even before production can start, production and post-production budgets and schedules need to be set. Creative planning also happens at this time to determine if the target budget and schedule are feasible.

All permits, shooting locations, props rental and costume design, auditions and casting, rehearsals, hiring of production, and post-production crew also happen at pre-production. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started:

Different Pre-Production Agreements

  • Co-Producer Agreement

Different producers can collaborate to produce a film, bringing diverse expertise to the table, including creative direction, funds, PR campaign, music, location, and the like. All of these roles will be specified in a co-producer agreement.

In addition to the budget and schedule also include the contribution ratio and profit-sharing between the co-producers and who has creative control over the production.

  • Client to Producer Agreement

Production agreements between producer and client usually happen when a film is for a specific purpose or niche, like music videos, commercials, and film shorts.

The client must specify the goal for the movie so the producer can adequately direct the content creation and production. The producer has creative freedom over the project but also needs to provide client needs.

  • Artist to Producer Agreement

Producers have a hand in hiring artists and crew unless the client has specific brand ambassadors they prefer for the project. In this scenario, the client signs a waiver releasing the producers from liability if their selected artists fail to meet the client’s expectations.

  • Location License Agreement

Film locations also need their agreements. The producer must be accountable to keep their artists and crew safe, and all rented or purchased equipment must also be secured.

These agreements usually include a detailed list of those allowed on the set or the studio by the producer. The producer needs to be informed of any additional personnel or guest must from clients or artists to avoid security breaches and penalties.

Principal Terms of the Agreement


  • Schedule

The timetable is important because it affects the rest of the filming process and keeps the project within budget, licenses, and permits.

It improves income potential; however, unavoidable delays can occur outside the producer’s control, like “acts of God,” war, pandemic, and the like. So, the agreement needs to shield the producer from liability in cases like these.

  • Rights to External Content

Getting permission for external content is also the responsibility of the producer. It can include music rights, video footage, ad jingles, and the like.

The owner may ask for royalty fees for popular content every time the movie is shown or downloaded. The producer must ensure that every detail is included in the agreement to avoid legal battles over revenues and the like.

  • Production Cost

The client typically bears the production costs, including producers’ fees. The client pays the costs to the producer before pre-production begins or on a milestone basis (pre-production, production, post-production, film completion) completed product.

  • Distribution Agreement

Contracts for film marketing and distribution are also crucial. After a film is completed, the producers may use the film for their demo reel or website. The producer typically owns the moral rights to the movie, as well as the original physical film. 

On the other hand, the commercial rights belong to the client and a pre-agreed number of physical copies of the film. The agreement can include who owns the subscription rights to release the movie online or on video streaming sites.

  • Artistic Disputes

The agreement must include protection for the project that will not be canceled in an artistic dispute between the client and the producer. Filmmaking is a creative process, and everyone’s treatment and artistic style differ. Still, it should not be enough reason to back out of an agreed production contract.

The Wrap

A film contract or agreement protects the rights to your film. It is required to minimize miscommunication and risk at every stage of the production process, from pre-production through distribution.

Agreements between your production team, cast, and crew must be in place even before filming begins for the project to be successful. Thankfully, a legal production agreement ensures that every production team member, from the client’s side to the producer’s side, is protected and adequately compensated.

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