Excerpt from "Get a Reel Job" by Philip Nemy
VP, LEGAL & BUSINESS AFFAIRS - oversees all legal aspects of films in development and in production; approves the contracts of all ATL and BTL talent; assigns outside counsel when film is designated an Article XX, Negative Pick-Up Deal, or Acquisition; supervises project attorneys.
The designations just mentioned refer to the many ways that a film can be financed by a film studio. Article XX refers to the 20th clause of the union agreement between the AMPTP and the IATSE which says that a studio, which is signatory to the IATSE Agreement for the use of union labor, has the right to finance a non-union film as long as it notifies the IATSE 30 days prior to the start of principal photography. This notification period allows the IATSE to try to “organize” the film by convincing the crew hired to work on the film to become members of the IATSE locals. The IATSE can also avoid the hiring of non-union labor by insuring that qualified union labor is available for employment, prior to the start of photography, in the city in which the film will be made.
Negative Pick-Up refers to a studio or independent financier agreeing, before shooting of the film begins, to purchase or “pick-up” the negatives of the exposed film from the production company for a pre-negotiated fee. With such an agreement, the studio is merely “funding” the film and not “producing” it. This allows the production company to use non-union labor in an effort to keep costs low, a method a studio could not utilize because of its union agreement. The downside for a studio with such an agreement is that as a financier and not a producer, the studio cannot exert any creative control over the film. Any attempts at creative influence over the production can be construed by the unions as “functioning in a producer capacity” which is in violation of the union/studio agreement.
Acquisition refers to buying the exposed negative of the film from a Producer once the Producer has completed photography of the film but has not gone into post-production including editing. By acquiring the film at this stage of film production, the studio or independent financier can now exert creative control over post-production, marketing and the eventual release of the film. With this, and many more ways, of producing a film, you can see why a studio must employ a skilled legal team.
PROJECT ATTORNEYS - assigned to one or more films at a time; prepare and negotiate ATL & BTL talent contracts; negotiate all union/labor agreements; supervise, negotiate and approve all location contracts and music clearance deals.©Philip Nemy