Ask Andy: Legal Advice

NW Documentary’s Artist in Residence, Andy Blubaugh, is here to answer your non-fiction storytelling questions.

What kind of legalities should I be concerned with when putting together a crew and paying them for their services? -Sarah

Dear Sarah:

First off, I’m not a lawyer, and you should not consider any of what I’m about to say to be legal advice, but I can share some of my own experiences. Documentary filmmakers have a number of legal concerns to deal with, and, there is no substitute for legal advice from an attorney. But since attorneys charge by the hour (or minute), I have saved a lot of money by doing research on my own beforehand. There are plenty of good examples online of legal documents for media production, and once I alter them for my own purposes, I have my lawyer examine them and make any needed changes. This saves a ton of money over hiring him to write them up from scratch.

Forming a production company is also a good idea, as it can (depending on what corporate structure you choose) shield you personally from any legal action that might be taken against your production. And if you’re in Oregon, you’re in luck, because it’s much easier to form a company here than in other states like California. Visit the web site for the secretary of state for more information.

Good luck!

-Andy

Have a question for Andy? Email it to info@nwdocumentary.org

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