Option vs. Shopping Agreements: How to secure your position with your next project.

Producing BasicsOption vs. Shopping

Developing material to produce is a major challenge. A series of major challenges, actually.

  1. First, you have to find and identify the right project(s) to develop,
  2. Next, unless it’s an original idea you’ve conjured from thin air (which, of course, DOES happen), you have to actually secure the right to develop and produce the material.
  3. Then, you have to actually make the project happen. This is where the writing, re-writing, packaging and financing come in.

But let’s take a look at item #2 above. Securing the right to develop and produce the material.

Option Contracts

Historically, the way producers, production companies, and studios went about securing rights in material for their development and production pipeline(s), has been to enter into an option agreement with the owner, author, or subject of the desired project. Continue Reading

5 Things to do before Thanksgiving

It’s hard to believe, but here were are… It’s October already.  The 4th Quarter of 2015 is upon us, and before you know it, we’ll be into the holiday season.  Once Thanksgiving arrives, we all know that Hollywood effectively shuts down until January.

So, before that happens,  here are a few things I recommend every entertainment business do to ensure a successful close to 2015, and a rip-roaring start in 2016.

Conduct a Corporate / LLC records “checkup”

If you’re like most small businesses, the day-to-day operation of the business takes up most of your time, and complying with corporate formalities like keeping minutes, documenting business decisions, and reporting to stakeholders is at best, an afterthought.  But, these things are absolutely necessary in order to retain the protections having a business entity offer.  Limited Liability, Access to investment funding, and clarity of management and control, all depend on doing some simple, but often overlooked upkeep.    Now is a fantastic time to dig into these matters, before the year-end pressure is on.  Imagine how great it can feel to know that everything is handled, so you can relax during the holidays.

Close unnecessary business entities.

If you’ve to unused corporations or LLCs formed for projects that never went anywhere, or that aren’t needed anymore because the projects they supported are long-complete, year-end is the obvious time to close them out, consolidate, and wrap up.  Each entity pays taxes, usually on a calendar-year basis, so closing up before December 31 can save you money and hassles.

Winding up these business entities can take a bit of time, however.  So, it’s wise to get the ball rolling before attorneys and accountants find themselves buried in last-minute year-end stuff.

Pre-File for new entity startups.

As the new year approaches, you may find yourself planning to start a new business, or taking steps to minimize your taxes by forming a loan-out company.  Did you know it’s possible to pre-file the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State, and to specify a filing date of January 1st?  This offers several advantages for the forward thinking.  First, you get it handled, so you’re not rushing around in January trying to get everything in place before you need to deposit checks, pay bills, etc.  Second, you can realize the tax benefits of showing startup expenses this year. (Check with your tax advisers on this, of course). Finally, you can establish credit that much sooner, so you have the resources to maneuver when you need to.

Business entity strategy is a complex area, so you’ll want to contact us to evaluate your options and determine what’s best for your particular situation.

Intellectual Property Inventory / Audit

Do you have a clear picture of what intellectual property assets you and your company own?  Do you know exactly which entities control which properties, and when renewals are required.  Have you filed all necessary ownership transfer, chain-of-title, and other documentation with the proper agencies?    Are there any other people who have claims to these assets, or to the income they generate, such as royalty participants, or those entitled to deferred, or contingent compensation?  It’s wise to explore these questions periodically, and to have a set of outsider’s eyes look everything over and identify any gaps or holes that need attention.  Obviously, I think those eyes should belong to a qualified entertainment attorney, preferably, me.

Create your 2016 roadmap

Before long, we’ll be into 2016, and if you’re at all like me, once January arrives, you’ll find yourself in the weeds handling the day-to-day stuff that’s needed to keep your business moving, your team busy, and your bank accounts growing.  It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae and lose sight of the longer-range work that’s necessary to take things to the next level.

What gets planned, gets done.


So, plan out your high-level activities for 2016.  Set some goals.  Break them down into mid- and short-term intermediate goals, and then even further into single activities that will move you and your business toward achieving these goals.

Now, schedule these activities in your calendar or task-management system  Be sure to allot sufficient time to complete the tasks.  Delegate whatever you can.  Anything that doesn’t require your knowledge, skill and expertise should go to someone lower on the food chain, who can still perform that task competently and with reasonable efficiency.  Save YOUR energy and effort for the high-level stuff that only you can handle.

This frees you up to be creative and to work on the big picture things that will really move your business forward.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re managing a large company with dozens of subsidiaries, or  your personal career as an artist or entrepreneur, these few things, if done before year-end, can help you be more productive, efficient, and profitable in 2016. I recommend starting now, before the holiday season derails us.

I’m pleased to help in any way I can.  Why not call me for a quick assessment of your needs?



Recorded before a studio audience: ELU66


The Latest episode of my Entertainment Law podcast, Entertainment Law Update, is now available for your enjoyment. Listen here, or subscribe and download in your favorite podcast listening app.

Show notes are located at http://entertainmentlawupdate.com/66

Here’s what we talked about…

Entertainment Law Asked & Answered – Licensing Music For Kids Performance School

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Face to Face – Canadian Copyright Term, The (non)Mark of Zorro and more – Entertainment Law Update Episode 65

The Latest episode of my Entertainment Law podcast, Entertainment Law Update, is now available for your enjoyment. Listen here, or subscribe and download in your favorite podcast listening app. Show notes are located at http://entertainmentlawupdate.com/65 Here’s what we talked about… Canada Officially Extends Copyright Term to 70 Years SESAC Buys HFA Black Swan Intern Lawsuit Overturned… Continue Reading

Entertainment Law Asked & Answered – Copyright Renewals?

TRANSCRIPT: www.firemark.com A reader wrote in with a question about whether copyrights need to be renewed. Hi, I’m attorney Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your entertainment law questions, to help you take your career and business to the next level. I’ll answer the renewal question, and explain how copyright… Continue Reading

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TRANSCRIPT: www.firemark.com Can you use real place names and businesses in a story that’s fiction, but inspired by a news article or report? I’m Entertainment Lawyer Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your burning questions, so you can take your career and business all the way to the top. I’ll… Continue Reading

Entertainment Industry Insights Podcast – The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments with Jeff B. Cohen

Entertainment Industry Insights Podcast – The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments with Jeff B. Cohen

  Jeff B. Cohen is a former child actor.  You may remember him as the young actor who played the role of “Chunk” in the iconic 1980s film The Goonies.  Nowadays, he  a prominent figure in the Hollywood Entertainment Law community.  He’s a partner at Beverly Hills based Cohen Gardner, LLP, and was recently named to Variety’s Dealmakers Impact… Continue Reading

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