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Royalties and the Independent Film Producer

'R’ is for "Royalties" today and writers, musicians, painters, graphic artists and other professionals working in a creative field can relate to royalty concerns or protocol in one way or another. For the purpose of this post however, I would like to specifically address independent films and the producers who make them (the main points in this post can still apply to other industries including the book publishing industry). A recent lawsuit filed by a few cast members of the TV show, “Happy Days” against CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures reminded me about one area that some indie film producers may ignore when making movies....this area is called merchandising.

In the lawsuit, an attorney for these “Happy Days” cast members (and the wife of actor Tom Bosley who died last year) are claiming that they were cheated out of more than $10 million in revenue generated from the sale of slot machines, drinking glasses, T-shirts, lunch boxes, greeting cards, board games and other merchandise. Of all the cast members in this lawsuit, only one is reported to have received a payment of $600 about a decade ago from the profits on “Happy Days” merchandise. This lawsuit and the claims surrounding it is one example of how important it is for filmmakers to keep in line with the contracts that are made between cast, crew and other members involved in a film. A lesson in deciding early on whether merchandising rights apply to any given project can also be learned from this “Happy Days” lawsuit.

A to Z Challenge
Merchandising is a separate issue than DVDs or even the digital market including downloads and online video streaming that were covered in F--k the Cheerleader, Save the Actors last year. Independent film producers should consider whether the movie that is currently being promoted has a viable market for merchandise sales, and all of this may be best to figure out during the development and pre-production stages. Doing so could reduce the likelihood that there will be any fuss about merchandise sales after the movie is released.

Some filmmakers may think “I’m not making the next ‘Avatar,’ so I don’t have to worry about this” while other filmmakers think “My film has a little ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ mixed with some ‘Blue Valentine,’ so I don’t have to worry about merchandising rights or royalties because my audience is not interested in too many products but if I luck up and sell like 3 T-shirts at the local Fringe Festival, that still does not mean I need to pay out royalties”....and um, neither of these two positions couldn’t be any further from reality.

A to Z Challenge
Now, I’m not a lawyer so what I’m about to say should not be taken as legal advice but any filmmaker who is making a movie with the intent to distribute it should not only have a contract that states whether actors or crew will receive a percentage of revenue generated from merchandise sales related to the film but should make sure that they have the rights to associate their cast members’ names with such merchandise if products that were not a part of the distribution plan are now suddenly added into the mix.

More importantly, filmmakers who enter into a merchandising agreement with cast or crew members should make good on these agreements, PAY the royalties already and refrain from playing games!

Stay Tuned for Part 2: Choosing to Sell or to Not Sell Film Related Merchandise

This post is part of my participation in the A to Z Challenge.

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Quotes from Music Tribute Movies to Inspire us All

'Q' is for "Quotes" for this A to Z Challenge post, specifically movie quotes and how they can inspire anyone at any age. While you do not have to watch movies to benefit from the positive impact that good movie quotes can have on your life, some motion pictures are worth viewing multiple times to seek out key moments to reflect on after those end credits start rolling on the television or theater screen. Here are three movies containing movie quotes with ability to transcend time, space and culture.....just like the music that these films are based on.

“Always remember your promise to me. Never let nobody or nothing turn you into no cripple.

Watching Ray starring Jamie Foxx made me look at singer Ray Charles differently. While talented, he seemed to have had a troubled personal life and still managed to become one of the music industry’s most legendary singers and pianists. I remember watching him perform in those Pepsi commercials on TV when I was a kid but never really pay attention to his music until the movie was released. The “Ray” quote is particularly inspiring because its meaning can be subject to interpretation.

Ray’s mother wanted to stress the importance of her son standing on his own two feet. However, this quote can also go further to inspire us to not let other people or circumstances get us down. No one or circumstance should have such a negative impact on you allow yourself to be placed in a state of sorrow, fear, self-pity, anger and/or hatred. Such negativity will likely only make matters worse and it costs too much energy, when the same amount of energy can be spent on improving ourselves, our feelings, our habits and/or our circumstances. The “Ray” quote can also inspire us to make sure that we do not allow anything or anyone to get in our way of becoming the best that we can be in life, whether personally or professionally.

What’s Love Got to Do with It
“You Can’t Keep Hiding Black Eyes”

During my childhood, I liked many of the Tina Turner songs that relatives played or sang around the house. It was exciting to be able to go see this movie in the theater when it came out, for what appeared to be a reward for my honor society achievements. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it), I did not get to watch the entire movie because my aunt made me cover my eyes on certain parts. Of course, when I got older and obtained a job, “What’s Love Got to Do with It” was among the many titles added to my movie collection.

Having now watched the film in it’s entirety, I’ve come to appreciate Tina Turner more as an international superstar and also appreciate Angela Bassett more because she played the hell out of her role in this movie. The “What’s Love Got to Do with It” quote inspires us to realize that sugarcoating our problems will not change them. Problems can only be fixed when they are addressed directly when, and only when we choose to fix them. Putting a band-aid on some problems will not make them any better, so it is important to find solutions to our troubles that bring positive changes instead of ignoring problems like they don’t exist or worse....denying that there even is a problem in the first place.

Walk the Line
Record Company Executive: “What’s with all of the black, it looks like you’re going to a funeral"
Johnny Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix): “maybe I am”

Prior to watching this movie, I had no interest in Johnny Cash or his music whatsoever. I knew that he was a famous musician but that was the extent of my knowledge about him.
The “Walk the Line” quote is inspirational because it challenges us to be courageous in the pursuit of goals that we believe in or are passionate about, even when others around us are critical or judgemental. He risked being persecuted for performing his new music at a prison, knowing that this decision would not come without backlash from the outside community, especially his religious fans.

The possibility of Johnny Cash’s performance at the prison not being received well was very prevalent but this did not stop him.....he went and performed anyway, on his own terms. Many of these important lessons can be learned from Walk the Line, because great accomplishments can be made if we make sure not to worry too much about how other people may react to what we choose to do in our lives.

The next movie I plan on watching is “I’m Not There,” based on singer Bob Dylan. If there are any movie quotes that are of interest in this film, I plan on adding at least one of them to this list.

This post is dedicated to Alana over at Writercize

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Priceless Deeds and the Creative Blog Award

Today is all about Priceless Deeds for the letter ‘P.’ During the A to Z challenge, I’ve met some of the kindest and most inspiring bloggers around the world. Deirdra of A Storybook World is one of those bloggers. She gave me the “Creative Blog Award” earlier this month on April 8th and I would like to take this time to thank her for the award.
Blog Awards
Allow me to also share a quote from my daily calendar that pretty much sums up the meaning of offering good deeds that impact others in a positive way. The most sincere gestures are those that money cannot buy, making them priceless symbols of human nature at its best.

Kind hearts are the garden, kind thoughts are the roots, kind words are the blossoms, kind deeds are the fruit - John Ruskin

Here are four priceless deeds that are worth practicing everyday or every time that opportunities to do something nice for others present themselves:

1. Send a greeting card to someone for no reason other than just to say hello. There are lots of “Thinking of You” cards that could brighten someone’s day.

2. Smile at someone to offer a gesture of positive thinking. A simple smile can bring pleasure, even in the toughest moments.

3. Compliment someone to offer encouragement. A simple compliment can reduce or eliminate self-doubt in professional, personal and social settings. Saying “yes, you can” to someone may be just the boost that they need to keep on moving in a society where there is no shortage of naysayers.

4. Hug someone or kiss someone; if you (or the intended recipient) are not into mushy actions, then offer simpler physical deeds to someone such as agreeing to carry luggage, shovel snow, wash dishes, give a ride to the doctor’s office or repair an appliance.

What was the last priceless deed that someone did for YOU?
Did YOU pay it forward by offering a priceless deed to someone else?

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