The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

Mentoring Room

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This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

Rhonda Moskowitz
Robert- What are life rights? Is this something that all documentary
filmmakers need to get from their subjects?
Doug Block
Rhonda, as I understand it, life rights are rights to the life story
of the main character(s) in your doc, which are nice for you to secure
in writing in case someone wants to make a fiction film based on their
lives after seeing the documentary.

Not always easy to get. It brings up possible issues of the subjects
feeling exploited, so you should tread carefully and find out from an
entertainment lawyer how to go about it. Also, wouldn't do it unless
you feel your character and his or her situation is so compelling that
Hollywood is sure to come calling.
Rhonda Moskowitz
Thanks Doug. You are right about treading carefully. I'm just in
the beginning stages of production, so I won't deal with this until
further down the road. Speaking of an entertainment lawyer, is there
a difference between an entertainment lawyer and a producer's rep?
Also, is this the place on D-Word where I can ask specific questions
about my film-in-progress? This is my first film.
Doug Block
the lines are getting increasingly blurry with the john sloss types
out there doing both, but generally an entertainment lawyer is paid by
the hour and a producer's rep gets a percentage of any distribution
advance and, depending, other sales.
Deleted User
hi there, new to the board.
i am thinking of making a doc, i have very limited resources
in terms of money.just curious what is fair compensation for a main
character(s) in terms of percentages if the film makes any money?
Doug Block
it's your choice, jennifer. most doc makers don't give their
subjects a profit share. some give up to 50%. it all depends on your
relationship to the subjects, what they want, what you want to give,

just make it clear to them that the chances of making any profit is
excedingly small.
Rhonda Moskowitz
Thanks Doug.You are a wealth of information and very generous in
sharing it! Which would you advise for someone like me? An
entertainment lawyer or a producer's rep?
Rhonda Moskowitz
Hi Doug, Just saw the list of Sundance grant recipients and saw you
just received a development grant. Congratulations! That's
Doug Block
thanks, rhonda. i'd recommend an entertainment lawyer until you're
confident your film will start a bidding war at sundance next year.
then, hey, give me a call ;-)