Filmmakers and Producers Insurance

Posted by David McLeish on Nov 5, 2018 12:18:55 PM

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Let’s Make Art Together.

You’re a prolific filmmaker with a full production slate. Like most creative people, you‘d rather focus on your work. The problem is that since each project requires its own insurance policy, it often feels like the more you work, the more time you have to spend dealing with insurance!

Worse, while you’ve always received good service from your broker, they don’t quite “get” what it is you do. It’s a hassle getting certificates for your vendors and cast and crew. Too many irrelevant questions are asked by the underwriter. When something unusual comes up like a drone shoot or stunts, there are delays. There has to be a better way.

Luckily, there is. Unlike most insurance professionals in Canada, we specialize in the business of entertainment insurance. It’s not just what we do, and what we’re good at; it’s what we’re passionate about.

Front Row Insurance Brokers is the largest entertainment insurance brokerage by premium volume in Canada, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Nashville, Los Angeles, New York and Denver.

In 2017, we insured over $4 billion of productions worldwide and wrote more than $45 million in film premium. The 38 dedicated film insurance staff in our Canadian offices are experts in TV and film production, so you know you’ll be dealing with someone who understands what you do. Even better, we have staff licensed in every province.

Filming in sunny Saskatchewan? No problem, we’ll get you covered. Perhaps most importantly, as part of our commitment to exceptional service, we will work hard to ensure that the money owed to you is paid if you ever need to make a claim under your policy.

Moreover, our excellent working relationship with the five major companies writing entertainment insurance in Canada ensures that you get more than just the best rates. It also affords us the opportunity to design studio programs which offer coverage tailored to the unique needs of your production slate. A studio program is a custom policy designed by the broker working in concert with the insurer. The advantage to you is that it’s designed around your specific production slate. You won’t have to pay for coverage you don’t require, and your policy will be customized for you by experts in entertainment insurance who understand your needs. Some examples of the benefits available under a studio program include:

  • No cast medicals required for film budgets under $15,000,000, rendering it unnecessary to schedule and attend tedious doctor exams, and saving you the $130 exam fee.
  • Automatic coverage for test shoots, promo shoots, pilots for budgets up to $50,000: no need to call us.
  • Quotations provided immediately for any new project. Rates locked for 12 months. Coverage can be activated and certificates issued on the same day for office rentals, payroll, etc.
  • Insurance wherever you film

Let us leverage your production slate, combined with our premium volume, for your advantage. We pride ourselves on being the simplest line item on your budget—fast, without the drama.

We can also offer you a Low-Claims Bonus: ask us how.

Tags: pre production insurance for filmakers, film school insurance, insurance for film set, Film Workers Compensation, Film Extra Expense, Film equipment rental insurance, Studnet Film Insurance, Public Liability Insurance for Film, production liability insurance for films, Film Production Vehicle Insurance, automobile insurance for films, Film permission, Film E&O, Film and entertainment insurance, Chubb Film insurance, Film Productions Cast Insurance, short term film video production insurance, student film production insruance, Flood insurance for Film, Storm damage film production insurance, helicopter film insurance, lowest film insurance coverage

Filmmakers and Insurance: What Moves You

Posted by Casey Budden on Nov 5, 2018 11:59:13 AM

 

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What Moves You?

More than 100 years after their invention, “moving pictures” still seem to command our collective imagination. We often have very personal emotional attachments to movies: we say that certain films inspired us, moved us, shaped our childhood, shocked us, or opened our minds.

What is unique about the medium of film? What explains this continuing fascination despite all the other technological delectations our age offers up? Is it because film promises us a total escape from the everyday? Provides deep insight into the human condition? Or is it simply good entertainment?

Probably, it’s all of the above. 2017’s total box office results were the highest in history, with over $39 billion in takings worldwide despite the fact that public attention is more divided than ever, with video games, streaming services, and downloads all vying for a slice of their entertainment dollars. Clearly, movies aren’t going anywhere.

What is changing is the way content is delivered. Creators are both rapidly influencing, and being influenced by, new technologies. This is not anything new: the history of film is one of periodic disruption followed by renewal in response to the changing tastes of audiences.

Early “talkies,” which began to appear in the mid-to-late 1920s, were often compared uncharitably to earlier, silent films. Critics often felt that the spoken dialogue made for tawdry, artistically inferior pictures. Audiences loved them, however, and by the early 1930s, the majority of films were being produced with sound.

Starting around the same time and lasting until the late 1940s was the Hollywood “studio system”—a system of production characterized by complete vertical integration of the production process. The studio system totally dominated filmmaking during this period. Studios “owned” talent, cast was repertory, and filming was done mainly on elaborate sets or backlots rather than on location. Props and sets were also frequently recycled through various productions. Many venues were owned by studios, who could thus control when, where, and for how long a film screened. Theatres that were not studio-owned were subject to a practice called “block booking” in which they were required to take on and screen entire slates of lesser-quality films from a studio in order to obtain screening rights to a single anticipated hit. (This is where the term “B movie” comes from).

As might be expected, this arrangement provided steady and reliable revenue for the studios. The big stars of the time were household names. Studios were nicknamed “Dream Factories” due to their ability to quickly churn out genre favorites—westerns, musicals, romances. Fantasy and spectacle were favored over realism, and audiences gobbled them up. But new technology was already sowing the seeds of change: the rapidly growing popularity of television, as well as a landmark antitrust case in 1948 which forbade studios from owning movie theatres and curtailed the practice of block booking, placed the film business on shaky ground by mid-century. The severe slump which ensued was not truly reversed until 1972, the year The Godfather was released.

The collapse of the studio system was both good and bad. As major studios were no longer guaranteed a theatrical release for their films, they became more risk-averse, tending to focus on properties they knew would make money. On the other hand, the proliferation of smaller studios and the uncoupling of distribution from production allowed many up-and-coming directors to make their mark. The 1970s ushered in the emergence of a raft of American auteur directors—Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, and Stanley Kubrick among them. These directors were influenced by European art-house cinema of the 50s and 60s and approached filmmaking with a markedly different aesthetic. Their films featured greater realism and frequently controversial subject matter. Like their European contemporaries from decades past, more scenes were shot on location. Dialogue was less frequently dubbed. Increased emphasis was placed on characterization and dialogue.

Simultaneously, and progressing in a completely opposite artistic direction, another trend was taking shape: the “Hollywood blockbuster.” Designed to maximize ticket sales for large studios, these films featured larger-than-life spectacle and action, supported by cutting-edge technology and special effects. Star Wars (1977) represents the most obvious example of this phenomenon. Audiences flocked to the cinema for the first time in decades to be part of an experience they could not replicate with equipment available at home. The modern action-adventure spectacle was born (and continues, in the guise of the ubiquitous superhero movie).

The 1980s accelerated these changes in filmmaking. Major studios could no longer afford to back a loser, so often doubled down on grand special-effects laden productions that audiences would be guaranteed to love, or else reliable franchises such as Rocky, Rambo, Indiana Jones, Friday the 13th,, A Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. The advent of home video technologies such as VHS and Betamax meant that a significant proportion of a film’s income now came not from box office, but home video revenues. This further opened up the playing field, as it was now economically viable for a small independent producer to market their film “direct-to-video” and make a profit.

Cut to the present day where, in addition to the multiplex, you can now watch a film on your phone, tablet, smart TV, portable music player, or game console. Streaming services are the latest disruptive innovation and have changed the way episodic TV content, for example, is presented (no more “previously on…” and no more commercials). It’s arguably never been easier for a creator to get their work out there.

Audiences flocked to the “dream factories” of the Golden Age of Cinema because there’s no magic like film magic. This hasn’t changed, and we don’t think it ever will. Film is the only medium that addresses has the ability to inspire both our intellects and our hearts while completely engaging our senses.

At Front Row Insurance, we are “Passionate about the arts…better at insurance.” We love creatives and the creative work that they do. That’s what moves us. What moves you? Whatever it is, we probably have a policy that will suit you. Contact us.

Tags: pre production insurance for filmmakers, film school insurance, educational film production insurance, insurance for film set, Film Extra Expense, Studnet Film Insurance, Film Location Insurance, Public Liability Insurance for Film, Film E&O, Film and entertainment insurance

E&O Film Insurance Protects Against Invasion of Privacy and False Light Accusations

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 26, 2018 7:10:24 AM

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Ready for Prime Time: RELEASING AND Broadcasting your Finished Film

You’ve made it! After much hard work, your film is finished and being widely screened in theatres. Audiences love it, and very positive reviews have appeared in several notable publications. Pride and excitement are the order of the day as everyone involved enjoys the fruits of their labor. Extreme care was taken in the production, so you’re shocked when you’re informed that a lawsuit has been brought against you for invasion of privacy.

Invasion of privacy is a serious risk to which filmmakers are exposed, and it’s difficult to anticipate all possible sources of legal action.

Imagine this scenario:

Your movie is an adaptation of a well-known book—let’s say, a roman a clef about a Canadian rail disaster. Due to the length of the book and the demands of the feature film format, some artistic license necessarily had to be taken and the book was heavily adapted from the original. This is not unusual, but unfortunately an actual person recognized himself in one of your characters and took serious issue with the way he was depicted.

Claims of this sort are fairly common and fall under the rubric of “false light” accusations. The typical argument is that a specific characterization is unflattering and transparent enough that the average member of the public can easily deduce who it is based upon. In other words, the party in question has been presented “in a false light.”

Let’s also consider a second scenario:

Your film is a documentary about the Canadian boxing world. You’re very careful about securing releases from all parties discussed in your film and all recognizable persons who appear in the background. You’re confident that you’ve taken all necessary precautions, but you still receive notice that one of the fighters discussed has initiated a lawsuit against you for public disclosure of embarrassing facts. While your depiction was accurate, your film included some discussion of the fighter’s life after the boxing world and went into detail about a failed business venture. The party concerned considers this information embarrassing and not relevant to the subject of the documentary.

What can be done?

Generally, claims of invasion of privacy are more successful if the plaintiff can argue that:

  • The subject matter would be highly offensive to a reasonable person
  • The information is not of legitimate concern to the public (i.e., the information is not newsworthy).

It’s obvious that these terms are highly subjective. What constitutes “highly offensive?” Who is this fabled “reasonable person?” And what exactly is of “legitimate concern” to the public? Even when extreme care has been used, a lawsuit is sometimes unavoidable.

A Producers’ Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance Policy Is The Best Protection.

The last thing you want is to face a costly lawsuit after your film has already been released. An Errors & Omissions policy protects the entire lifespan of your project against situations such as the above, by helping arrange a legal defense against:

  • Allegations of unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism
  • Allegations of libel, slander, and defamation of character
  • Allegations of invasion of privacy

Contact us for more information.

Tags: false light and E and O, invasion of privacy and filming, E&O Policy for producers, E&O copyright report, Film E&O, title clearance, media liability insurance policy, Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance, HD E&O, Producers E&O Insurance, Producers Errors & Omissions Liability Insurance, Multimendia Risk

E&O Insurance for film: WHO IS INSURED

Posted by Kent Hamilton on Feb 6, 2017 11:51:54 AM

You arrive home after your screening of your documentary at a well known film festival. The film was well received. You feel great! Your hard work and investment for the last five years has paid off. Your distributor is happy. But even more than that you told your  important story and exposed the truth about a difficult subject.

Film E&OThere is a knock at your door and a courier presents you with a registered letter. You sign and open the package and see that you, your company, your wife, your financial partner and your cameraman have been sued for libel and slander by the large and  powerful company that employs many lawyers. Fear  strikes! Your wife? Your investor? Your cameraman? Why would they name them on the suit?

Your mind eases when you remember that your attorney was careful to  vet the production for libel and slander issues. You remember not liking the process because some great ideas and footage had to be scrapped during editing. You are glad that you engaged a specialized clearance  attorney familiar with “fair use” issues.

And…you purchased an E&O policy for your company from a specialized Doc insurance broker. Wow! You catch your breath. Similar scenarios to this have been played out many times for many documentarians.

But am I personally protected under the policy? Is my wife, investor and cameraman protected? Or will those legal costs have to be borne separate from that of the company’s policy?

What should I do?

The first thing you should do is notify your insurance broker and forward the legal letter you received.

Under most normal situations: you, your company, your wife, the investor and the cameraman would all be protected under the policy.  You will also be provided with an expert claims adjuster and a lawyer paid by the e&o insurance company to defend your production through a settlement and even a court case if necessary.

To obtain a preliminary E&O quote, please Click Here.  You will be requested to fill out an application and a quote will be given to you in most cases within one business day.

Please note that this is an illustration only: for a detailed outline of the E&O coverage contact us and we will send you a sample policy wording. In the event of a coverage conflict given the advice above, the policy wording would prevail.

 

Tags: E&O, Film E&O, E&O Insurance, Documentary Insurance

Blurring the Lines of Music Infringement Law - Three Perspectives in One

Posted by Jeff Young on Jun 17, 2015 12:59:23 PM

Jeff_YoungFor many years of my life, I have had the pleasure of enjoying three simultaneous careers. I am a senior member of the Bar of British Columbia, Canada focusing on entertainment law, I am a member of the State Bar of California, USA, regularly dealing with my colleagues in Hollywood, and I am a music producer and composer with a current co-write on the radio and a cue on a currently airing TV show. Very rarely does a legal case affect me in all three of my careers at once. The recent music infringement lawsuit between the Marvin Gaye estate vs Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over the songs Got to Give It Up (by Gaye) and Blurred Lines (by Thicke/Williams) does exactly this. As a result, I thought it would be interesting to present my commentary from all three of these perspectives, separately.

From the American lawyer’s perspective

The general understanding among attorneys practicing music law in America is that a composition infringes on another when there are substantial similarities between the melodies of one song versus that of another. The precedent setting cases have all generally ruled that similarities in chord progressions and general rhythmic feel – or as some would call it, the “groove” – does not constitute infringement. You need to have melodies that sound alike. In fact, mere similarities in the groove of a song is usually considered a genre. There is no copyright in a genre and there is no copyright in a chord progression.

In comparing Blurred Lines and Got to Give It Up, there is clear evidence that Thicke and Williams meticulously copied the groove of Got to Give It Up. There are also some similarities in the bass line of the two songs, but those similarities do not seem substantial. On a pure legal analysis, it would not seem like this was a case of infringement. However, the case went to a jury, who may have been influenced by the apparent bad attitude and demeanor of Robin Thicke in court. Also, no one in the public has seen the musicologist reports that stated that there was in fact compositional infringement, not just a copying of a feel, groove or genre. Furthermore, jury decisions only decide individual cases based on fact. No reasons are delivered and technically, no legal precedent is set. The message to any disgruntled music creator is that regardless of the existing law and established precedents, if you take an infringement case to a jury, you may still win if you can convince them there was some form of copying, regardless of what aspects were copied and what the legal precedents say to the contrary.

What does the American music lawyer typically say when asked by a client who wants advice on what they can do before going into the recording studio? Prior to this decision, the advice given would be that the client can copy a feel, groove or genre, but you cannot copy melody lines, hooks (or lyrics, if any). Following this advice, the client is told that they will likely going to avoid a lawsuit because prior cases have held that it is reasonable to assume that we are all influenced by the feel, groove and genre of the music that we listen to and like, and that alone does not amount to an infringement. Now, while the American attorney can still technically say that the law really hasn’t changed, he or she will now have to further advise the client that any disgruntled music creator can still file a lawsuit, choose a jury trial, and convince the jury that there is infringement anyways – particularly if that client isn’t liked by the jury.

I have always believed that certain issues such as music copyright infringement should not be submitted to juries because juries lack the legal training necessary to make the correct legal decision. There is a tendency to ignore established law and go with what seems intuitively right based only on the facts, and decide accordingly, sometimes even when the judge’s instructions are otherwise. That leads to bad law. Juries in America are not obliged to give reasons, so we will never be able to tell if they understood what the law really was to begin with. This kind of uncertainty is scary. Really scary.

From the Canadian lawyer’s perspective

Canadian music lawyers will likely never face a case like this one. Music infringement cases are not decided by juries in Canada. They will be decided by judges who must provide legal reasons that at least can be appealed if the reasons appear incorrect. Also, an American trial jury decision with no reasons provided has no legal weight as precedent in Canada. So as a Canadian music lawyer, if a client asks me how to avoid infringement, I would still advise that you can copy a feel, groove or genre, but avoid copying melody lines (and lyrics, if applicable) and you are likely going to avoid a lawsuit because we are all influenced by the feel, groove and genre of the music we listen to and like the most. However, most clients that come to me in Canada don’t just want a Canadian hit. Their dream is to have a hit in America on American radio. Therefore, it would not make sense for Canadian lawyers to completely ignore the Blurred Lines decision. In other words, while this decision has no formal effect on Canadian law, it will likely have some effect on Canadian music creators, especially those whose creative works cross the border, and it would be unwise for a Canadian entertainment lawyer to not point that out.

What is the result for Canada? Well, we now have one single jury in America rendering a decision (a decision involving their own interpretation of music law that they do not have to provide reasons or account to anyone else for) likely affecting the future behavior of most of the music creators in another country for a long time to come, even though the laws of their own country does not require them to behave that way. Bizarre.

From the Producer’s and Composer’s perspective

In the film industry, scripts are reviewed, potential infringements are identified, and the resulting clearance reports get sent to entertainment lawyers to review and to render opinions as to whether changes to the scripts are needed. This is all part of the “errors and omissions” process that because of the history of lawsuits in that industry, has become common and standard, if not virtually mandatory. Basically, the lawyers have to tell the filmmakers what is allowed on the screen, or not.

This “clearance process” also happens, in a lesser degree, with books. Literary publishers often retain lawyers to engage in a “libel read” of a book to identify possible legal risks before the book is released, and sometimes, risky portions of the book are edited out.

If the results of the Blurred Lines case continue in future jury decisions in this manner, the state of legal uncertainly may become such that major labels releasing records may become so concerned that they will have to adapt a similar process for the music industry. After all, this case resulted in verdict of over $7 million!

In other words, the “clearance reports” will have to be done by qualified musicologists who will review the entire album and identify potentially infringing phrases or “hooks”, and then submit those musicology reports to entertainment lawyers who will then render opinions on what can be left in and what has to be removed.

If this sounds ridiculous, I would remind you that I’m sure this seemed as ridiculous to filmmakers and book authors of past eras, but lawsuits in those industries have now made clearances commonplace. Basically, lawyers will have to tell the music producer what is allowed on the records, or not.

I’m not sure I would ever like this – even if I’m the lawyer clearing my own work!

As a composer, I am often asked by film directors to create “sound-alikes”, especially when the film is independently made and there is no budget to license a major hit song. A “sound-alike” is a music cue that copies a feel, groove or genre, but does not copy melody lines (or lyrics, if applicable) in order to avoid a lawsuit. Now, in view of the Blurred Lines case, this approach may not work anymore. Some questions that arise for the music composer: Is it reasonable to force all of these independent films to only license the hit music track when the director is only looking for a similar feel, groove or genre? How will these multi-million dollar awards affect the future careers of upcoming composers if they are living in fear of lawsuits for everything they try to create with an established feel, groove or genre?

In Conclusion

The Blurred Lines this decision introduces significant uncertainty into music infringement laws. This uncertainty is aggravated by the fact that juries are not required to render reasons for their decisions.

It is my understanding that Thicke and Pharrell have filed an appeal of this decision. I sincerely hope that the appeal will succeed at least in part – specifically, from the point of getting clarity on the legal principles involved.

I am much more concerned about that than which side winds up with the $7M. I just want the lines of music infringement law to be less blurred!

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JEFF YOUNG
- The Lawyer's Lawyer
- Educator and formerly practiced in-house with VANOC and UBCP
- Music Producer, composer and expert snowboarder
- Called in BC (1988) and California (2010)

Jeff Young, J.D. | Barrister & Solicitor | Trademark Agent (Canada and US) jy@arenaltman.com | Direct: 604.563.1192 Member Law Society of British Columbia, Canada | Member State Bar of California, USA (inactive) ALTMAN & COMPANY | Business and Entertainment Law Suite #202 – 2245 West Broadway Ave., Vancouver BC V6K 2E4

Tags: music insurance, E&O Insurance, Altman & Company, Jeff Young Lawyer, Entertainment Law, Marvin Gaye Lawsuit, Music Infringement, Film E&O, Jeff Young Attorney, Music Infringement Laws

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