It would seem to be obvious that one of the simplest ways to lower your film equipment insurance costs is to assure the insurance company that the film gear is safe and secure in your possession: but what does this mean?
As Specialized Film Insurance Brokers we represent you to the insurance company to ensure that you receive the best premium and coverage available in the marketplace to insure your gear whether you are an owner/operator supplying gear or a producer renting gear for a: feature, TV Series, Documentary or short.
Every film production application will ask how the gear used on the production will be protected. The underwriters charge for discomfort so give them good detailed answers that make them comfortable. Good information includes:
1.) Warranting that you will have a bonded security guard watch the gear overnight if you are shooting on location.
2.) If you do not hire a security guard, pack your gear back into the truck(s) and park it in a secure compound overnight such as a tow truck yard. They often have excellent security: fenced and floodlit, manned 24/7 and dogs!
3.) Return your gear to the equipment rental house so you are not responsible overnight.
4.) Cable your gear that is not being used when shooting on the streets in a busy urban area.
5.) Have a sign out protocol that allows you to know when gear does not return to the truck. You don't want to find out the day that you return gear to the equipment rental house that you are missing equipment with no idea when it disappeared. Mysterious disapperance is not covered - you need to have an idea of the date and time when the equipment was stolen.
Good information based on a liitle planning will ensure that you receive the best premium.
Script clearance reports provide important information for producers of films, documentaries and TV Series
Script clearance research involves reading and breaking down a script and identifying all items that represent possible legal conflicts, if used as is. These items include character names, business names, locations (signage), logos, slogans and quotes, product names, schools, organizations, images and designs, music, defamatory references, and racial slurs, and the use of protected material in the form of copyrights or trademarks. Additionally, the report includes information on photographs, artwork, books, music, film clips, dialogue, props, identifiable personalities and much more.
The report will be reviewed by your production lawyer who will determine if particular details may pose legal problems. The report is also distributed to the director, producers, and any other production personnel who will be creating set dressing, props, signage, wardrobe or other elements from the script.
When should we start on our clearances?
If you intend to release your production to be viewed by an audience, you should have a script clearance report researched at the pre-production stage, prior to shooting the script. Unless you already have a distribution deal in place, you'll need to find a distributor to release your production. As the distributor isn't generally part of your creative process, they'll want a guarantee that it doesn't contain any materials which could cause an infringement, defamation of character, or other legal problems that would result in them being sued.
Clearing the content of a script before beginning to shoot is highly recommended, since some elements can't be changed once the production is finished. Failing to complete the necessary clearances could result in having to redo elements (expensive editing costs) or if that's not possible, the inability to screen or distribute the production at all.
Once you have a locked script, the first thing you should do is start your clearances. The main reasons for that are:
- You want to know if your main character names are clear and if not, you may need to work on some alternates;
- The longer you wait, the greater the cost in having a report prepared (there are various turnaround times and rates for reports depending on how quickly you need it);
- Getting permission to use real brand names and products in your production can often take several weeks;
- A full script report can assist you in meeting the needs of your errors & omissions insurance requirements.
Who are these clearance people? Can anyone do a script clearance report?
Script research and script clearance workers must be very detail oriented and organized. There are often many details and facts that need to be checked which means using a wide variety of specialized databases and resources, making phone calls and creative problem solving to obtain information. Understanding legal issues, copyrights, trademarks and clearance issues are a must and in a specialized field, there are very few people who can accurately advise on this topic.
Guest post by Krista
Krista Johnston is the owner of The Research House Clearance Services Inc., a Canadian company that provides script clearance reports, title clearance reports, footage and stills consulting and permissions placements and has clients in Canada, the USA, Australia, France, Germany, the U.K. and South Africa. For more information on clearances check out http://www.researchhouse.ca/.
One of the simplest ways to reduce film production insurance premiums is to lower the net insurable budget. The net insurable budget is the amount left once various budget line items are removed from the definition of insurable costs. The rate that is negotiated with the insurance company is applied against the net budget. A typical rate might be .70 cents per thousand dollars of net budget depending on the current insurance market conditions
To illustrate, let us assume a cable TV movie needs to be insured with a budget of $2,000,000. Typically, we would remove the following lines items as costs that do not need to be insured:
1.) Story and scenerio - we will assume this amount is $50,000 (I know writers are never paid enough).
2.) Post Production costs - we will assume this amount is $200,000
Claims that happen during post production are covered; however, due to the low risk of claims in post, the insurance company does not apply rate to post costs which is why it has been removed.
$2,000,000 less script and post costs leaves a net insurable budget of $1,750,000. $1,750,000 times the negotiated rate of .70 reults in a premium of $12,250. If the net were less than $1,750,000 the premium would go down.
Other budget costs to consider removing from our sample budget might be:
Producer fees ($50,000)
50% of contingency ($25,000)
Removing the above items would lower the net insurable budget by $135,000 to $1,615,000 and would result in a premium savings of $945.
Once the budgeted cost is removed from the net insurable budget it is no longer insured in the event of a claim so producers need to be sure before removing from the insured budget.
As specialized film insurance brokers, we can help guide you to an appropriate net insurable budget for your film production.