Production companies are behind the films, TV shows and music we enjoy. Even though artists can create, it’s up to producers to physically bring those works to life. We won’t lie – producing tends to be a pretty competitive space. If you decide to start your own production company, there’s also a number of risks you’ll be dealing with. 

However, if you’re keen to set up a production company, then the complexity and competitiveness of it shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your goals. With the right legal help and planning, setting up your production company can become a lot more manageable. 

How Do You Start A Production Company? 

The first and most basic step to starting a production company is getting it registered. The registration process will lay the foundations for your production company right from the start, so it’s important to make sure this is done correctly.  

To register a company, we recommend getting the help of a legal expert. There’s a lot that goes into registering a company. This doesn’t necessarily mean that setting up a company is a difficult or daunting process. However, it can be somewhat complicated. When you’re setting up your production company, you will need to think about matters such as: 

  • The type of company you will be registering
  • Ongoing company management obligations
  • Annual fees and other payments
  • Company governance
  • Directors 
  • Shareholders
  • ASIC rules and regulations for running a company 

All of these matters and more, will impact the registration of your company. It’s best to have all the details sorted out before you begin the application to register your company. A legal expert can keep your production company’s goals in mind and ensure the company is set up in a way that supports and protects it. 

You can read in more detail about the process of setting up here in our article: Steps To Incorporate Your Small Business In Australia

What Do You Need to Start A Production Company? 

Arguably, when you start a production company you’ll need a fair number of things. After all, you can’t produce without having a solid plan, finances, great content or even an audience.  

However, even the best creative ideas, genius marketing strategies and all the funding in the world won’t matter if you don’t take the necessary steps to legally protect your production company right from the start. 

A common mistake a lot of company owners tend to make is not getting proper legal advice when setting up their company. This means they run into issues and complications that could have easily been avoided with the right legal documents. 

So, when you are in the process of setting up your production company, one of the most important things you will need to do is make room for all the legal considerations. It can be hard to know where to even begin. Don’t worry though – we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn more. 

What Are The Legal Considerations For Setting Up A Production Company? 

When thinking about the legal considerations that will impact your production company, it’s crucial to remember that every production company is different. Therefore, the legal factors you will need to take into account will vary from other production companies. That’s why, it’s always a good idea to talk to a legal expert and get advice that’s catered specifically to your company. 

For now though, we’ve listed some general legal considerations for setting up a production company that you may want to know about. 

Intellectual Property

For anyone in the creative or entertainment industry, intellectual property (IP) tends to play an especially crucial role. There’s two main scenarios where IP protection is essential: When using your own materials and when using another person’s intellectual property. 

When utilising your own IP, it’s vital to ensure that your company has full legal rights over it. This prevents other people from stealing it and monetising it without your permission. If you’re using someone else’s IP, then it’s important to make sure you have the proper avenue to do so – or else your company could get into a lot of trouble.  

The type of legal protection you seek over IP will depend on the type of IP itself and the purpose you have for it. You may need to get legal agreements in place such as a Copyright Disclaimer, A Talent Release Form or an IP Licence. For other types of IP, such as a Trade Mark, you’ll need to get it registered with IP Australia. 

Talking to an Intellectual Property expert can help you better understand what you need to protect and the best ways to do so. 

Contracts 

A verbal agreement is almost just as good as having no agreement. Even though a verbal agreement is still technically legal, there are very few ways to prove its existence, making it pretty hard to enforce. 

It is always best to get everything in writing. 

Contracts are a key legal instrument you can utilise to protect your production company. The type of contract you will need tends to depend heavily on context. Sometimes, you will need a brand new Contract Drafted. For other situations, you might just require a Quick Review and Redraft

It’s also important to be aware of specific contracts such as: 

Knowing when to use a contract and what contract to use is pretty useful knowledge for anyone running a company. We know there’s a lot of different types of contracts out there, so it’s always best to get a legal expert to help you out. 

Data and Privacy

Most companies collect data in some way, which can be useful but it also raises privacy concerns. There’s nothing wrong with ethically collecting and storing information – in fact, it may even be necessary in some cases. However, it is important to make sure that you’ve taken the right steps to keep all information that others have trusted you with private. 

The right legal agreements can help you out with this process. For instance, if your production company has a website that collects any kind of personal information from its users, then you are legally required to have a Privacy Policy in place. You can also make sure things stay confidential by getting Non-Disclosure Agreements signed where necessary. Having a good system in place, which includes a Data Breach Response Plan can ensure your process is efficient in case something ever happens. 

Employment Law 

Production often involves a team effort. Therefore, if you’re thinking of hiring people for your team, then you’ll need to be aware of the legal considerations that come with being someone’s employer. Fair Work and Safe Australia set out the standard for a safe working environment as well as the minimum entitlements every employee should be receiving. It’s a good idea to to be up to date with their rules, as it will be your responsibility to provide things such as:

  • The right equipment for your employees to complete their work with 
  • A working environment that is free from harassment and bullying
  • Minimum wage, breaks, leave and other entitlements 
  • A physically safe space to work in 

It’s necessary to detail your employees rights and their responsibilities in an Employment Agreement so that both parties can be on the same page.

Moreover, you may want to get additional legal agreements in place such as a Workplace Policy. To be able to maintain a positive work environment, you will need to make sure your employees are aware of their own duties and responsibilities. While you can’t control the behaviours of others, you can ensure you’ve taken reasonable steps to make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them for the safety of others. 

What Other Legal Documents Can Protect My Production Company?  

As you’ve probably already discovered, a lot of legal considerations can be managed simply by having the proper instruments in place. However there are a few additional ones we haven’t mentioned. These include: 

Even if you don’t need these agreements immediately, they can come in handy during different circumstances, so it’s wise to make a mental note of them. To learn more, chat with our Entertainment Law Specialists, so they can guide you through the process of setting up and protecting your production company with the right legal avenues.  

Next Steps

A production company can be an exciting new venture however, legal protection for your company is paramount once you set up and start running it. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • The first step to setting up a production company is to register the company. This involves considerations like company type, management obligations, fees, governance, directors, shareholders, and ASIC rules 
  • Legal considerations are crucial for starting a production company, and it’s advised to seek legal advice specific to the company’s needs
  • Intellectual Property protection is essential, both for your own materials and when using others’ intellectual property; legal agreements like Copyright Disclaimer, Talent Release Form, or IP Licence are necessary 
  • Contracts, including Service Agreements, Distribution Agreements, Supply Agreements, Dry Hire Agreements, Endorsement Agreements, and Non-Compete Agreements, are crucial for legal protection and should be in writing 
  • Data and Privacy issues require legal agreements like Privacy Policy and Non-Disclosure Agreements to protect information collected by the company 
  • Employment Law considerations, such as providing a safe working environment, minimum entitlements, and detailed Employment Agreements, are important when hiring a team for the production company 
  • Additional legal documents like Producer Agreement, Profit Share Agreement, Photography/Video Consent Form, and Model Release Form can offer further protection for the production company

If you would like a consultation on how to set up a production company, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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