One piece of advice that I received early on from producer Athena Lobit (of The Things We Carry fame) is that it’s never too early to start looking into legal when launching an independent film. And she was right. So, I am advising you, aspiring filmmaker, to do the same. In the world of business plans, subscription agreements, and stock purchase agreements, you want to be working with someone who knows what they’re doing.
I think I avoided the lawyer search for a bit because I knew it could be a costly endeavor – especially in Los Angeles where attorneys are often as famous as their celebrity clients. And while I wasn’t going to be hiring Bert Fields or Gloria Allred, I still hoped to find someone sharp, knowledgeable, and reasonably priced for an upstart production company like mine.
The great thing about lawyers (and, yes, there are some great things about them) is that everyone knows one. So I once again turned to my Hollywood consortium and asked for some recommendations. I can’t tell you how grateful (and relieved) I am to now be working with one of the attorneys suggested to me. I’m going to play it safe and not mention my legal eagle by name because a) he may not want to be advertised on this modest ol’ bloggy of mine; and b) lawyers are, after all, litigious. Let’s just call him Stuart, after my favorite LA LAW attorney, Stuart Markowitz, played by the adorable Michael Tucker. (Yes, I’m dating myself. But isn’t he cute and cuddly?)
Stuart was recommended to me by a very trusted friend and colleague. Stuart owns his own law firm and has practiced entertainment law for many years – in fact, I’d guess he’s been in the game at least a couple of decades. Now, I admit I get intimated when it comes to contracts, disclosure, agreements, and the like. All that legal jargon hurts my brain. But the wonderful thing about Stuart is that he talks to me like the rookie that I am without talking down to me. Last week he spent about 40 minutes on the phone with me, offering suggestions and advice (and quelling the recent sympathy anxiety I’ve absorbed via my EP Dad) and we hadn’t even officially agreed to work together. That’s a classy counselor in my book.
As I assemble Team Deliberate, I realize that I’m looking for long-term partners, not flighty flings. I need to surround myself with people I can trust who will educate and advise me. And it’s mandatory that we have some laughs along the way, too! I think I’ve found that in Stuart. One more item I can check off the list.
NEXT UP: Planting the seeds of seed money.