Chapter 9: We Hereby Agree
Paragraph 4. covers the eventuality that individual films you direct may be combined into a TV show. The show may include films by other directors, so the language here indicates your payments will be pro-rated according to the running time of your films.
Paragraph 5. covers per week fees for consultation you may provide, where no actual new production work by you is required.
Paragraph 6. is intended to protect your work from being altered by others without first giving you the right to do any client-ordered alterations yourself. This is a difficult right to get, but is a great pain reliever.
Paragraph 7. is designed to make sure you will be paid for any extra-production or promotional work you may be asked to do.
Paragraph 8. spells out exactly when and how you will get your payments.
Paragraph 9. is a fact of life when you are animating properties belonging to your client. Everything you do belongs to them. That's why your royalties are your only stake in the basic value of the properties.
The rest of the contract is standard boiler plate.
Now let's look at an example of a contract involving a property of your own creation:
Let's say that your first serial idea, "Sam Poo, Hair-brained Cosmetician" faded, but your new brain-storm, "Greta Garlic, Malodorous Talk-Show Hostess," turned up a contract offer...
(The opening paragraphs, names and addresses, etc. can be the same as the earlier examples.)
- This document serves as an Agreement between Beater and Animator, concluded this day, concerning the rights and revenue distribution of films involving the character now known as "Greta Garlic, Malodorous Talk-Show Hostess" hereinafter referred to as "Garlic."
- Garlic was created by Animator and is copyrighted © by Joe Animator.
- Beater has concluded an agreement with Saucy Syndicators, inc. to create 26 episodes of a one-half hour animated television show to be titled, "Joe Animator presents the Greta Garlic, Malodorous Talk-Show Hostess Show," hereinafter referred to as "The Show."
- Each Show will consist of a one 26-minute Garlic episode, plus standard opening and closing title sequences.
- All costs of financing, production, advertising, marketing and distributing of the Shows and related merchandising products shall be borne by Beater.
- Animator agrees to create and direct 26 episodes of Garlic, plus approximately 3_ minutes of new title animation, featuring the character Greta Garlic to introduce and end the Show.
- Animator will perform his work for no fee, but will receive 25% (twenty-five percent) of gross revenues received by Beater in perpetuity from all uses of the Show.
- Animator or his heirs shall further receive 25% (twenty-five percent) of the gross revenues received by Beater or its assigns or successors from all merchandising and products using the Greta Garlic character and/or other characters Animator will have created in the Show.
- Gross revenues shall be defined as all income received by Beater from all sales, distribution, and any and all exploitation of the Garlic characters and Show, or any show in which the Garlic characters may be used, and from all Garlic-related merchandising, including by ton limited to book, comics, toys, dolls, games of all types and in all media, and in all forms now known or hereafter devised.
- Subject to the approval and direction of Beater, Animator shall have the right to design all elements concerning the Garlic characters as used in the Show, including but not limited to the stories, plot and continuity, opening title sequence, lettering styles, and logo, and shall have right of approval of character voices, music, advertising, and licensed products.
- To the best of Animator's ability, Animator agrees to direct and/or supervise, without fee, any subsequent use of the Garlic characters in any future production, and shall have first refusal rights to do so. In any case, whether or not Animator participates in any further production of Garlic films or products, his royalty rights shall remain in force.
- All productions and products making use of the Garlic characters shall be copyrighted in the name of Joe Animator.
- All royalty rights included in this contract shall pass to the heirs of Joe Animator.
- Simultaneously, Animator hereby grants Beater exclusive and unlimited rights to market the programs created under the terms of this contract, and the use of the name Joe Animator and Greta Garlic in connection with such marketing in all media now known or subsequently devised.
- In the event of cancellation, or failure on the part of Beater to secure distribution of the Garlic series within a period of six months after completion of the first episode as approved by Beater, Animator shall be paid for his work at the rate of $ [several thousand dollars] per minute of running time of completed animation work. (This should be double the usual fee that "Animator" would get for his work.)
The rest of the contract can be the same standard boilerplate as shown in the earlier examples.
I'm not guaranteeing you that you can actually get all of the rights and compensations indicated in that final example. They are what you should strive for. What you will actually get depends on what you've got to sell; how much the client/producer wants you or your creation. That, as they say, is Show Business!
No contract is fool-proof, and any can collapse for various extreme reasons. The most important point is to know who you are dealing with. Trust and mutual benefit are the only true guarantees of fulfillment. It is vital that all understandings be in writing, carefully worded to eliminate ambiguities, and that they be carefully read and understood.
As Casey Stengel once said, "Verbal agreements are not worth the paper they are written on!"