5 Tips to Save Legal Fees On a Film or Video Project
By: Nikia Furman, Film Maker
1. Get signed contracts before you engage with others services or collaboration.
2. Write your own contract, or even make a simple list, with all the details you think are necessary and then email it to your attorney before meet in person or on the phone. It serves as a quick reference for you attorney and can save them a lot of time asking you what you want. They just have to fill in the details you may have overlooked.
3. Set a budget for legal fees. Treat them like every other crew member. If you are on a tight budget, keep looking for an attorney until you find one who agrees to the amount you are offering. They can adjust the services they offer to fit your budget. If you can’t find anyone that says yes, raise your budget and try again.
4. Fresh Meat: Use an attorney who is new to the film and video industry. They’ll sometimes work for half the price of other attorneys. It will give you some legal security and clout when negotiating contracts. Watch out though! They also tend to write unnecessarily large contracts and are prone to bill for more hours.
we could all live without attorneys if we simply communicated clearly
5. Anarchy! Some attorneys like to be really vague and make it seem like understanding legal contracts and the legal system is way above you. Anarchists believe that we don’t need third parties like government and attorney’s interfering. The truth is, we could all live without attorneys if we simply communicated clearly with each other, had perfect memories and were all honest.
Attorneys help people communicate more clearly with each other in documents that everyone can reference when they forget (whether on accident or on purpose) what they agreed to in the first place.
So, if an attorney isn’t being clear with you up front, or seems even moderately intimidating, save yourself trouble and find someone nicer. After all, its a free country!
One more thing, keep in mind that law is more of an art form than a science. Any contract is open to interpretation by the courts. More experienced attorneys will know what has worked in the past for all parties involved.