Chapter 9: We Hereby Agree
Most animation books I’ve read leave out one of the most important things an animator needs to know: How To Make a Contract! Do you really need a lawyer? Here are some examples of how you can Do It Yourself and retain your hide.
Most animation books I've read leave out one of the most important things an animator needs to know: How To Make a Contract!
There are a vast array of ways an animator or independent filmmaker can get screwed. If you get involved with a real expert, there may be no escape. But a well-drawn written agreement can save you in most cases. Decide for yourself if you need a lawyer, but legal eagles generally fly high, and need plenty of enriched dollars to keep them aloft. I may be lucky, but I've done better on contracts I've drafted myself. A lawyer has enough boiler plate to make a contract that is thicker than Your film script — often many times thicker — and you probably won't understand most of it. From my vast experience with vampire producers, I have boiled down the essential armor plate to just a few pages - often just a single page - with the essentials all there. However, every project is different in one way or another, so what I present you with here are just examples which can be modified to fit your case. The essential points:
- Clarity. Simple, but precise language.
- Use of the word "shall" in preference to "will." There is a mighty difference!
- Fairness to all parties. A tricked up, one-sided contract leads to intense pain, and is non-workable in practice.
In animation work there are generally three types of contracts or agreements.
- Free lance, where your own creation is involved.
- Free lance, where you are contracted to produce their project.
I will show you here examples of each of these contracts, that I have actually signed and worked under, (the names have been changed to avoid attack by real lawyers.) I will follow each one with explanations of the good and bad points as necessary.
This first employee agreement is authentic, and I present it in some embarrassment:
"The following shall constitute and Agreement between Foxy L.Grandpa, doing business as FoxyWoxyFilms, 123 South 45th Street, New Joy, NO 10000 USA, hereinafter referred to as "Foxy," and Gene Deitch, 999 Way Out Road, Desolation Depths, NG 99999 USA, hereinafter referred to as "Deitch."