A producer agreement or contract is the agreement by a producer to perform services for a company. The services are usually for music, television or film. There are two different types of contracts to be aware of:
- producer agreement contract - a contract with a producer who may be from a major studio or a significant investor; this producer is not likely to have the same level of control and freedom as an independent producer and may be collaborating with other producers)
- Independent Producer Contract - a contract with a producer working independently of a major studio system; in other words, this is a producer that has creative, editorial and financial control over a project as well as separation from any particular company)
Terms & Provisions in a Producer's Contract
Just like an artist's contract, the terms of a producer's contract depend on many individual factors. These include: the producer's contribution to the work (did the producer write the script, develop the work, invest lots of money, secure a high profile actor/musician or significant investor, etc.), his/her reputation in the business (well-established or a first timer) and the other party's belief in the producer's skills and potential to further the project financially.
However, it is possible for a filmmaker to create a producer position very informally. This is especially true in the independent film industry & an easy way to create an independent producer contract. That being said, there are some common terms and provisions that would appear in any producer's contract:
- Services: the exact types of services the producer will be performing
- Duration of Services: the time period the producer be responsible for performing the services
- Credit: name, type and placement in the work; type & placement are very important to a producer
- Payment: just as with any other type of contract, the payment structure needs to be listed
What Should I Watch Out For?
While the details of a producer agreement/contract may differ from those of an independent producer's contract, there are a few common terms that a potential producer should be aware of:
- Expense Reimbursement: the manner in which a producer will be reimbursed for expenses incurred; there could be a minimum before reimbursement is available
- Ownership: the percentage or types of rights the producer will get in the work; an independent producer will likely retain some form of ownership in the work.
- Rights/Endorsements: the producer's rights to endorse the work publicly and rights to control or giving input into the creation of the work
- Assignment: this states if the producer is allowed to assign the benefits of the position to another company, individual, etc.
In the event of a breach, the producer will likely be sued for money damages, lose some of the benefits granted under the contract or be replaced.
Getting Legal Help
This article is not a substitute for the advise of a qualified attorney. Regardless of a potential producer's savvy in the business, no producer should sign a contract to become one without the advice and guidance of a licensed attorney experienced in these agreements.