I come from the documentary feature film space and I am somewhat familiar with investor contracts for film, however now that a funder and I are trying to work out a contract for my web series project (first 8 episodes), I am looking to someone who may have a sample contract for similar project? I really just need a jumping off point and would keep this completely private. Im just getting the sense that some of the lingo will be different and some of the terms will change because it’s not one living thing - it’s multiple episodes and works in seasons, etc. Any help or advice, I would be grateful for. So far I have been finding that web series creators either self fund or crowd fund so what I’m looking for feels like trying to find a needle in the hay stack!
Hi, Lilly! I know this’ll sound real elemental to you but, speaking as a professional writer for years, what you could do with is an agent. Someone who would work through that jargon and make sure the contract protected you and your work. Now, agents are hard to get, but if you approach one (via letter or email) saying what you’re looking for and how far you are in the process, it may get you someone who will negotiate your paperwork.
best advice, but pretty generic advice-- get a lawyer to read it, even if you’re not having a lawyer negotiate. even if you trust the person writing the contract, make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to.
the contract i signed when i sold my series (which was already developed, written, and in production when i signed the contract) was pretty typical from what i know, except for three major things:
a) an addendum that explained how many episodes were expected, on what timeline, and what length, as well as additions i asked for that allowed me to create transmedia elements freely and gave me the option to produce future episodes with independent funding if the company i sold it to declined to fund a second season
b) contractual agreement that i had full creative control with veryy few exceptions (i just agreed to not do anything wildly offensive)
c) the intellectual property agreement. i actually sold the IP, which isn’t super typical, but i chose to do that only after consulting with a lawyer who said it was pretty strict in the first draft. i ended up deciding to sell it anyways with the original language with a major addition-- i am the attached producer (defined the contract as producer & production company-- full creative control, essentially) for all episodes of the show ever made, unless i turned it down. this was a tricky clause, and i would not have known exactly was i was getting into without a lawyer, and i honestly wouldn’t have done it if i hadn’t had extreme trust in the people on the other end of the contract.
feel free to message me privately if you have more questions, but my general advice: figure out how much you trust the person you’re working with. protect your major rights even if you trust that person immensely, and carve some leeway with promotion/secondary materials for the show. give yourself an option to fund in other ways if your funder declines to fund more episodes but you still want to pursue it.
Just came across this- perhaps it’s another place to start!
Hey! I really appreciate this. This really helped me to think about other areas. For instance, I definitely included timeline and maximum number of episodes which Im defining as first season for this initial funding. But I think there’s ways I can be even more detailed. I definitely trust this person, they are very very close and he has been one of the funders of a different project as well as projects of others that are not related to my field. I know everyone says get a lawyer and I get why, but this is such a low budget project compared to the others and since I went through a similar contractual process with him previously, it just felt like we could work out the details together.
Thanks I’ll put this in my back pocket for other film projects. These are mostly geared toward films and film crews. Web series has a few other elements these contracts might not include!
Hi Lily, I’m in LA until March 12th, but if you email after that I will send you a copy of our contract. It’s very simple and our lawyer already looked at it. Eleanor
You’re freaking fantastic. I’d love to come take a look at your convenience. Let me know best way to get in touch with you.