Legal Question in Entertainment Law in California

Does the executive producer own the film?

A verbal agreement was made stating my partner and I

would own our film 50-50 at the beginning of the

project. Now the film is complete and my partner wants

to be called Executive Producer. I wrote, directed,

produced, and put my own money into the film. If he

takes the executive producer title, will he then own the

film? Should I insist on also being called the Executive

Producer in order to assure my well-deserved 50%

profits if the film succeeds?

Asked on 10/04/03, 9:12 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Christopher M. Brainard, Esq. C. M. Brainard & Associates - (310) 266-4115

Re: Does the executive producer own the film?

You want to get equal credits for many reasons, including ownership, recognition, etc. You also should get this all documented in a contracted acknowledgment. My rates are reasonable, contact me at 310-266-4115.

Read more
Answered on 10/04/03, 9:23 pm
Sheldon G. Bardach Law Offices of Sheldon G. Bardach

Re: Does the executive producer own the film?

The title of Executive Producer has nothing whatever to do with the ownership of the film. It is usually given to the producer who represents the money, studio, etc. In other words, he/she really watches the money expenditures. He may own all or none of the film. Get your partner to agree in writing that you own the film 50/50 and then agree on what credits you each should be entitled to.

Read more
Answered on 10/04/03, 9:36 pm
Erik Hart Law Office of Erik A. Hart

Re: Does the executive producer own the film?

The titles various people are credited with has absolutely nothing to do with ownership of the copyright of the film. You need to get the verbal agreement that you will each own 50% of the final product, memorialized in writing.

As to the underlying question, how someone choses to be credited is up to the parties. In fact, the title "Executive Producer" usually indicates that the person had more of an honorary and perfunctory position with regards to the production, as opposed to the credit "Producer" which implys a more day-to-day, hands-on, managerial position.

Which credit you should get, and which credit your partner gets really depends on how you each wish to be viewed by those who read, and more importantly UNDERSTAND, what the various titles on an end-crawl mean.

Read more
Answered on 10/05/03, 12:14 am
Kim Kirby Davis Dixon Kirby LLP

Re: Does the executive producer own the film?

Titles have nothing to do with who owns the film. The verbal agreement is valid. However, I suggest that you and your partner commit the terms to a written agreement as soon as possible. Depending on where you are in your financing, distribution deals, etc., you should also define the responsibilities of each partner via the written agreement.

Read more
Answered on 10/06/03, 12:51 pm

Related Questions & Answers

More Entertainment & Sport Law questions and answers in California