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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Buyouts in Commercial Contracts

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I saw this question posted on a popular forum for actors, and I responded. Here is what transpired:

"I'm posting this question for a friend of mine who is currently without an agent/manager. He has a callback for cable promo. The casting director listed this job as a "BUYOUT" and the promo will be broadcast for cable and internet usage. When you work on something like this, what types of conflicts will you have? Does that mean you can't work on any other movie-promos INDEFINITELY? Or is it usually for a few years? The CD said "buyout", but did not say "in perpetuity". So my friend was just worried about what doing this type of TLC promo might exclude him from in the future."

Hello! As far as I know, the term "buyout" only refers to payment/salary. It simply means that your friend will get paid one time (for the session) and no other payments or residuals will be due, no matter how long the promo runs.

As far as conflicts, the contract should have some sort of language about exclusivity, if that is something they require. if it is required, they will stipulate how long the contract binds the actor exclusively. If it doesn't mention exclusivity, have him ask this question when he signs the contract. Often on non-union promos there is no exclusivity so your friend would have the right to whatever other promos he likes. Just make sure he looks closely at the contract so he know what his rights are.

Hope this helps- and please pass along my congratulations to your friend!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.

5 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Laura said...

As always thanks for the great info


L


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GroovyBrent said...

Here's my understanding from the Producer side of things (yes, I'm one of them!). You are correct that "buyout" means the talent will get paid once for their work, no matter how many times it gets played or how many outlets show the spot. Not sure what it's like in NYC, but here on the left coast, if I'm looking for a buyout from an actor, I generally expect to pay at least twice their normal day-rate for the rights.

And I never ask union talent for buyouts. Well... almost never... :-)

If I want exclusivity within a category (for instance, automotive), I will state that explicitly, and I will expect to pay for it. However, I can count on one finger the number of times I've had a client ask for exclusivity with talent. Probably more common on large (I mean LARGE) national accounts, but if you're in that position, you have an agent working on your side.

And, as always, Erin's recommendation to RTF Contract is dead on. If something isn't clear, ask!

Erin C. said...

Yep- it's the same out here too. It is rare for union actors to accept a buyout- there is almost always a residual structure involved as determined by the union, as well as the agent (as you mentioned.)

Sidebar: I wanted to mention that Brent and his company, Groovy Like A Movie, are proof that there are producers out there striving to treat their employees and contractors well. After such a contentous couple of years in our industry, it is important to remember the good folks who grease the wheels to make this work possible. Of course, it is important to have both party's interests represented fully while in negotiations, but I think that many producers and actors respect one another's work and importance in the industry.

So... thanks to Brent (as always) for his insights and recommendations!

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