As creative people, we don’t really think of the rules. Rules could limit the creative process and prevent from creating something great like a short film, a music video or even an artwork. However, there are rules that us creative people need to think about: the law. People in the film industry are taught how to direct, film, edit, but we are not taught on how to cover our a$$es and protect ourselves. Filmmakers tend to believe that with a camera, we are invincible but that’s not the case. We decided to contact a professional in entertainment law to get an input on how filmmakers can avoid making mistakes that would get them sued or worse… Disqualified from a film festival.
Davey Jay is an Entertainment, Arts, and Sports attorney in the Central Florida area. She works at Meehle and Jay Business and Entertainment Law and teaches Entertainment Law at Full Sail University. In other words, she is a superhero in a suit. She helps professionals and freelancers when it comes to conducting business and drafting releases to avoid any intellectual property problems down the road. Davey has always been interested in the arts and entertainment but she didn’t like the thought of artists being taken advantage of, so she “found out that there was a way to stop that from happening.”
Davey Jay says that there are many mistakes that first-time filmmakers make. Amateur filmmakers tend to not take the time to clear trademarks and copyrights (if it’s not yours, don’t use it). Also, they usually don’t prepare proper contracts for their crew or don’t give credit to someone’s contribution (say who helped you), or they don’t get the right permits (you are not always allowed to film anywhere).
The biggest problem with freelance work is often in regards to payment. How can you put a price on art? Well, you can and you should. Davey’s advice for freelancers is to “value their time and experience” in order to communicate that clearly with clients. The main problem with negotiations is that clients want to pay for quality work but most clients are not aware of the work quality that the freelancer does. Freelancers should be clear on the work that they can do and why it’s important to produce good work. It’s also vital for freelancers to listen and execute the client’s demands, especially the purpose of the project they are hiring the freelancer to do. It’s all about communication. Davey says, “It’s important for both the freelancer and the client to understand what those interests and expectations are before a price is quoted.”
Because women’s equal treatment in the workplace, especially in this industry (see #TimesUp), is a very relevant topic nowadays, we asked Davey Jay if she has ever felt discriminated because she is a woman working in the entertainment industry. She interestedly said that she has experienced the usual micro-aggression but it’s been positive for the most part. However, because of her name, most clients assume that she is male. She told us an interesting story about how she closed a deal for a client and it wasn’t until the contracts were signed that the other party realized that they were working with a woman. The other party admitted that they might have behaved differently with her if they knew they were working with a female.
Filmmakers have a lot to learn in order to work legally, especially with intellectual property such as trademarks and clearances. Davey advises filmmakers to make sure they have the clearances before even getting started because any problems could make a film not eligible for distribution and could even get filmmakers sued. Filmmakers can identify with this one, especially with music, because even though a song fits perfectly in a scene, it doesn’t mean that they can use it.
Getting a film permit to film in Orlando is easy and affordable since the Orlando Film Commission doesn’t charge any fees for processing the permits. There won’t be a problem as long as you have your permit. But is it worth it to film in Orlando?
We always wonder what Orlando has to offer to the entertainment industry, so we asked her. Davey assures us that there is so much more going on than people realize. “We have seemingly endless reserves of world-class talent, gorgeous locations, and an amazing spirit in The City Beautiful, so the question really is why wouldn’t someone invest in this city?”