Legal Issues That May Arise During the Production of a Film or Television Project

There can be issues of ownership, copyright, and a tendency to give away far too many important pieces of the pie when multiple parties are involved in the creative process of a project, whether it’s a concept a producer has conceived, the script, ideas for a pitch, the music, obtaining the money needed for production or a development deal.

It’s critical to establish an agreement with the help of an entertainment lawyer in Lagos (where most of such deals takes place) before a filmmaker makes promises they can’t fulfill or finds themselves in a scenario where they and a partner have committed to an equal share but can’t agree on anything.

It may already be too late when a partner begins to complain about what’s in it for them. When a producer decides to cooperate with anybody else on their project, it’s necessary to get competent legal guidance and consider addressing the structure of their working relationship.

Projects may be stolen when a creator or producer starts working with others on their project, shares ideas with their closest friends, or speaks with others in the entertainment business before putting their ideas down on paper and having them copyrighted. This is why having an experienced copyright lawyer in Nigeria is essential for any production house intending to work on Film or Television in Nigeria.

It’s also conceivable after a talent agency, network, or studio has presented a proposal to them after a renowned and experienced entertainment law firm in Nigeria has reviewed the whole thing, but it’s unlikely. Thefts of excellent ideas and concepts are more likely to happen when a creative person communicates their ideas with someone close to them in the early phases of developing a concept for a film or television production. It’s also when a single creative or producer has the greatest negotiating power with others at the outset of a cooperation. The  director or scriptwriter might expresses an interest in collaborating with them. They should sign a contract at that moment, not after the collaborator has brought value to the product and gained influence over the original author. It’s too late once a collaborator starts contributing to the creative process. It’s impossible to be on time once manufacturing begins. Anyone who works on a project with others has the right to a portion of the copyrights that are subsequently secured for the work.

When it comes to copyright and trademark filings, the author of a work or the producer of a project should submit the task exclusively to their own entertainment lawyer. When rights are claimed by others in the creative process or copyright applications are submitted wrongly, allowing anybody else in the process to file the copyright for the creator and owner of the project might result in years of costly litigation.

Copyright assignments must also be used and properly worded to eliminate loopholes that might lead to lawsuit after a film has been released. Anyone involved in the creative process should sign them to verify that the producer is the only proprietor of the product.

If a screenplay is co-written by two or more authors, or if a writer co-writes with the producer, an agreement must be created outlining how the screenplay rights will be shared.

If a movie or TV is Licensing music, you need to understand that it is a difficult procedure. The cost of licensing music for a film is determined by the popularity of the songs, as well as where the music is used in the film, such as during the credits. Where the music is used in the film, such as during the credits, may make the music considerably more costly to license. An entertainment lawyer with knowledge in film music licensing should be hired to “clear” the music.

Work-for-hire contracts are no longer as straightforward to design or implement in as many scenarios as they formerly were. A poorly drafted work-for-hire agreement, or one that does not fit the facts of the employee’s obligations to be at the producer’s disposal, can lead to the “work-for-hire employee” being determined to be an actual employee, for whom taxes, overtime, and pay for missed lunch and rest breaks should have been paid. This is another area where an entertainment lawyer will come in handy.

Contract to be considered for Film and Television Development

Agreements for the purchase of rights to another’s work, such as a book option or screenplay option, a life story agreement, an agreement to hire a writer to write, rewrite, or polish a script, work-for-hire agreements, collaboration agreements, and co-production agreements are among the types of agreements that must be drafted and signed during the development stage of a film or television series production.

Creating a Business Entity During the Development Stage

Producers should form a business entity for their production projects to protect themselves from liability. Although a producer may operate as a sole proprietorship, the single proprietor has no protection other than the insurance coverage that they may be able to acquire with all of the policy’s restrictions. Establishing a production company might be a good idea. Here also having an experienced lawyer advise and help establish one would make more sense.

Despite the fact that filmmaking is a collaborative enterprise, filmmakers should avoid getting into joint ventures or other agreements that give one partner the power to prevent the other from making choices and completing the production. Breakups happen all the time, whether it’s in a marriage or a legal firm. People die, grow weary of the rat race, go on vacation, sometimes permanently, or get into difficulty with drugs or alcohol.

The Producer’s Project and Rights are Safeguarded

There are many other legal aspects which a producer has to keep in mind, for example, in order to utilize child actors in a film, a filmmaker must first secure parental authorization, then negotiate actor and director contracts, as well as talent release forms, materials release forms, location release forms, group releases, additional releases, and more.

When a producer decides to invest time and money in creating a work or developing a film or television project, it’s critical to hire an experienced entertainment law firm as soon as possible to protect the producer’s rights from the beginning, all the way through production, distribution, and theatrical release or broadcast on networks or streaming services.

Each and every deal is crucial. Contracts with sales agents and distributors, A-list actors, and financiers are just as crucial as the early agreements a producer forms with collaborators or the production contracts. Filmmaking is a learning process, but with the appropriate entertainment lawyer on your side, you can avoid some of the pitfalls.

Creative Legal is an entertainment law firm in Lagos, Nigeria. You can contact us by email at or you can contact us using the contact form.

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