Film Production Guide: Business & Legal

 

Note: Information provided on this page is for general interest and is not a substitute for competent legal and business advice provide by accredited professionals.

General Legal Resources Managing Finances of Producing a Film

The American Bar Association's Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking: Contracts, Copyright, and Everything Else You Need to Know
Michael Donaldson and Lisa A. Callif
Published by The American Bar Association, 2011
220 pages, $49.95

Buy Online

This step-by-step guidebook leads you through the legal morass of producing an independent film, from idea, through financing, development, principal photography, distribution, and delivery. The book also includes a CD with forms you may need formatted in Word. Available also in ebook format.

Disclaimer: the authors remind readers that this legal guide not a substitute for getting competent legal advice.

How to Form and Maintain a Non Profit
Published by the King County Bar Association, 2009

Free PDF Download

This book explains what you need to do to form and maintain a nonprofit organization in Washington State.

The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers
Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.
Published by Focal Press, 2011

472 pages, $42.95

Buy Online

This reference provides fast answers in plain English. It is designed to help you reduce legal costs by providing the vital information you need to make informed decisions on the legal aspects of your film, video, and TV productions. Find quick answers to hundreds of questions. The author is a TV-producer-turned-entertainment-lawyer.

Disclaimer: nothing in this work is intended as legal advice.

SAG-AFTRA: The Business: The Legal Process for Independent Filmmakers
Two-Hour presentation by Kathy Heller, 2015

YouTube Video

This video provides information on legal questions every filmmaker should ask when creating a feature film, a short, or other media, including: What is ‘chain of title’ and why is it important? What can I use in my film without permission, and when do I need permission? How can I use ‘free’ volunteers? Who owns the story and the script? Who will own my completed film?

How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation: A 50 State Guide
Nolo

Online Resource

Forming a nonprofit corporation is much like creating a regular corporation, except that nonprofits have to take the extra steps of applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS and their state tax division. This page has the list of steps and links to the relevant filing offices for each of the 50 states.

Forming a Corporation
Nolo

nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/corporation

A corporation is a form of business ownership that helps prevent personal liability for business debts. Here you can learn how to create a corporation, how a C corporation and an S corporation are taxed, and how to keep corporate minutes and records to preserve your business's corporate status. Nolo has books, forms, and online applications that can help you create your business.

International Documentary Association
3470 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 980
Los Angeles, CA 90010

(213) 232-1660

https://www.documentary.org/

The International Documentary Association supports nonfiction filmmaking and filmmakers. The IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists.

Arts Organizations

4Culture
101 Prefontaine Place South
Seattle WA 98104

(206) 296.7580
hello@4culture.org

Web: 4culture.org
Facebook: 4Culture
Twitter: 4Culture
Instagram: kc4culture

4Culture is a support agency for the arts in King County. 4Culture offers opportunities for all kinds of cultural funding and support in King County, with deadlines rolling out throughout the year.

It also offers project consulting services.


Business Consulting & Fiscal Sponsorship

National

National Network of Fiscal Sponsors

 

Directory Organized by State

 

A growing index of fiscal sponsors organized by state and alphabetically with detailed information on each based on a 10-question sruvey.

Film Fiscal Sponsors

 

Washington and Northwestern States


Allied Arts Foundation
444 NE Ravenna Blvd., Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98115

206.624.0432
Online Message: alliedarts-foundation.org/contact

alliedarts-foundation.org/grants-sponsorships

Serving the Seattle community and beyond since 1967, Allied Arts Foundation provides support to artists for the enrichment of the local and national cultural experience. AAF nurtures emerging artists and arts groups through fiscal sponsorship on an ongoing and by-project basis, and makes direct grants to artists for projects of merit.

CascadiaNow!
PO Box 30181
Seattle, WA, 98113

206-249-9985
cascadialove@cascadianow.org

cascadianow.org/services

CascadiaNow! is dedicated to amplifying positive impacts across the bioregion of Cascadia. CascadiaStrong is the fiscal sponsorship program CascadiaNow! provides, which offers resources and administrative assistance to grassroots projects that share our mission to cultivate a resilient and inclusive Pacific Northwest community.

Accepts fiscal sponsorship applicants from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon & Washington.

Columbia Basin Foundation
234 First Avenue NW, Suite B
Ephrata, WA 98823

(509) 754-4596
info@columbiabasinfoundation.org

columbiabasinfoundation.org/funds/fiscal-sponsorship-funds

The Columbia Basin Foundation can hold a limited number of fiscal sponsorships and special project funds at any given time due to limited resources. CBF sponsors organizations within our service area of Grant, Adams and western Lincoln Counties only.

Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave
Seattle WA 98122

(206) 329-2629

nwfilmforum.org/fiscal-sponsorship

One of Northwest Film Forum’s key artist support services is Fiscal Sponsorship. If your film or project is approved for this program, NWFF extends the Forum’s 501c3 status as a sponsor for the project, opening up opportunities for grants and fundraising available to nonprofit organizations. Fiscally sponsored projects can solicit tax-deductible donations from organizations or individuals. NWFF administers donations made on behalf of the project and send donor acknowledgments. Their administrative fee is 6.5% for funds granted, but they do not take any ownership of the project.

Please note that this program does not provide direct financing or fundraising services.

Shunpike: The Business of Art
815 Seattle Boulevard S Suite 215
Seattle WA 98134

(206) 905-1026
info@shunpike.org

shunpike.org
shunpike.org/programs-services/fiscal-sponsorship-2

Shunpike was founded in 2001. Shunpike provides independent arts groups in Washington State with the services, resources, and opportunities they need to forge their own paths to sustainable success.

Whether you have questions about the relative benefit of different organizational structures, or want to learn more about fundraising, marketing, board development, managing money, events, risks, or people, Shunpike is a reliable, practical, and affordable resource for the creative community across Washington State. Programs include:

  • Arts Business Clinics are free, informal, drop-in clinics where Shunpike staff and ABC Advisors are on-hand to meet with attendees and talk about their arts business needs. Akin to a ‘speed date’ meet-up, artists and creative arts entrepreneurs are able to chat with supportive arts professionals about any aspect of arts business.
    • Arts Business Dates takes your relationship with Shunpike’s Arts Business Advisors to the next level. On an Arts Business Date you meet with one or two Advisors, in a mutually convenient location, at a mutually convenient time. On your ‘date’ you have the opportunity to discuss your arts business challenges with experienced arts professionals and ask questions specific to your arts project or creative enterprise.
    • In return, you pay a $20, non-refundable, booking fee (payable to Shunpike), and agree to buy a hot drink for your Advisors (maybe even a cookie!). Book dates with a call to the Shunpike office or email Programs@shunpike.org.
  • Fiscal Sponsorship allows independent arts groups the ability to raise funds for their artistic projects using Shunpike’s tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gives 501(c)(3) status to non-profit charitable organizations which allows donors to receive a tax deduction for supporting a public charity. Under Shunpike’s fiscal sponsorship, arts groups and organizations can offer tax-deductible receipts to donors and may be eligible to apply for government and foundation grant programs usually only available to organizations with 501(c)(3) status. Shunpike offer two levels of fiscal sponsorship: Basic and Comprehensive. Visit their web page for up-to-date descriptions.

Copyright, Taxes & Licensing

Authors Registry
116 W 23rd Street
Suite 500
New York, NY 10011

(212) 563-6920
staff@authorsregistry.org

authorsregistry.org

The Authors Registry is a not-for-profit clearinghouse for payments to authors receiving royalties from organizations. It was founded in 1995 by a consortium of U.S. authors' organizations including The Authors Guild, The American Society of Journalists & Authors, the Dramatists Guild and the Association of Authors' Representatives.

City of Seattle Admissions Tax

seattle.gov/rca/taxes/ADMITAX/AdmissionsTax.htm

Admission tax is added to the ticket price or other charge that attendees pay to enter entertainment venues or events in Seattle. The City allows for some exemptions from this tax. Consult webpage for latest information.

US Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

(202) 707–3000
(877) 476–0778 (toll free)

copyright.gov/registration

This web address is your starting point for all things related to the registration of copyrights.

Incorporation

State of Washington Business Licensing Service

bls.dor.wa.gov/plan.aspx

State of Washington forms and agencies with links and other assistance to help you get with the legal steps to starting or renewing a business.

The Small Business Guide
The Governor's Office for Small Business Innovation and Assistance

oria.wa.gov/site/alias__oria/345/Small-Business-Guide-start-open-new.aspx

The Small Business Guides provides helpful information, links to valuable resources, and outlines the steps for starting and operating a business in Washington state. The Small Business Guide is available in English, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

The Business Guide includes sections that will help you plan, run, grow, or close a business in Washington State.

Seattle's Business License & Taxes
City of Seattle
Finance and Administrative ServicesSeattle Municipal Tower
700 5th Ave
Suite 5200
Seattle, WA 98104 Phone: 206-684-2489

seattle.gov/licenses

From this webpage you can find, renew, or cancel a business tax license. You can also find links to search for a business and get business assistance offered by the city.

Legal and Dispute Resolution Assistance

Dispute Resolution Center of King County
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Suite 520
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 443-9603
DRCinfo@kcdrc.org

kcdrc.org

Organized in 1986, the Dispute Resolution Center of King County uses trained and supervised mediators who volunteer their time to help us solve over 1,000 disputes a year. Mediation is the most affordable solution for working out an agreement and avoid the expense and trouble of going to court. Dispute resolution centers are organized under state legislation that requires them to provide services on a sliding scale, and DRCs will never turn anyone away for lack of ability to pay for the service.

Kantor Taylor PC
901 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4000
Seattle, WA 98164

206-625-9898

kantortaylor.com

Kantor Taylor PC, is Seattle-based law firm. Kantor Taylor represents a large number of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations. We assist with initial organizational activities—including drafting organizational documents and procedures, establishing governance structures, obtaining tax-exempt status and complying with federal tax requirements for exemption.

Neil Sussman
10751 Densmore Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98133

(206) 363-8070
neilsussman@comcast.net

Neil Sussman is a tax attorney available for consultation in all areas of entertainment law. Services including contract drafting and negotiation, income taxes and return preparation, foreign tax issues, copyrights and trademarks, and business licensing and formation.

Neil has experience working on all types of contracts including recording contracts, publishing agreements, licensing deals, film and television agreements and live performance agreements.

Neil's clients include musicians, artists, writers, photographers, film makers, performers, playwrights and many web based businesses.

The Unemployment Law Project
1904 Third Avenue, Suite 604
Seattle, WA 98101

(206) 441-9178
(888) 441-9178

Email: Ask A Question

unemploymentlawproject.org

The Unemployment Law Project provides low-cost representation and free advice and counsel to people in Washington State who have been denied unemployment benefits or whose award of benefits is being challenged.

With offices in Seattle and Spokane, Washington, the ULP offers services to anyone with a Washington State claim.

University of Washington School of Law Mediation Clinic
William H. Gates Hall, Suite 265
P. O. Box 85110
Seattle, WA 98145-1110

206-543-3434
mediates@uw.edu

law.uw.edu/academics/experiential-learning/clinics/mediation-clinic

Since 1991, the Mediation Clinic has provided free and confidential mediation services. We mediate for the general public in the Greater Seattle area and for staff, students and faculty at the University of Washington. Students serve as neutral third parties to help individuals involved in a dispute negotiate a voluntary settlement of their case or conflict.

The mediators are second and third year law students who have completed an extensive mediation training through the Continuing Legal Education Program at the University of Washington School of Law, followed by an additional instruction and practice. They are supervised by a faculty member or professional mediator in all mediations they conduct.

The Mediation Clinic accepts cases from early October through May each year. Cases can usually be scheduled within one or two weeks. This service is offered free of charge as part of the public service program at UW Law.

Washington Lawyers for the Arts
Office Address:
701 5th Ave, Suite 4100
Seattle, WA 98104

Mailing Address:
PO Box 61308
Seattle, WA 98141-6308

(206) 328-7053
info@thewla.org

thewla.org

Founded in 1976, Washington Lawyers for the Arts (WLA) is a nonprofit service organization dedicated to supporting the arts in Washington state by creating alliances and making legal resources accessible to artists and arts organizations of all disciplines. Services WLA offers include:

  • Legal Clinics. Artists and arts professionals are welcome to make 30-minute appointments to meet with attorneys who specialize in arts and entertainment law. They may discuss topics, including contract review, copyright, trademark and other intellectual property issues.
  • Workshops. Arts Legal Workshops are 60-90 minute presentations for both artists and lawyers. Artists get an in-depth look at specific legal issues they encounter. Lawyers receive continuing legal education that focused on issues facing artist clients.
  • Lawyer Referral Service. Provides referrals to connect members of the public to qualified attorneys.
  • Links. A page with links to other organizations and resources.

Federal Tax Exempt Status

Links to IRS Pages

 

Exempt Organizations (EO) administers tax law governing charities, private foundations and other entities exempt from federal income tax.

* Also See Theatre Production Guide: Business & Legal