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AUTHOR SUBJECT: E&O and the dreaded Chain of Titles
Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 9/21/2016 5:15:43 AM
Many of you already know the basics for this, but here's the information for the Chain of Titles a distributor will ask you if you want to sell your film.
We've discussed about the E&O insurances a couple of week ago here, so this read will be of interest!

Many filmmakers have a vague understanding of the term “Chain of Title.” Often they don’t focus on this phrase until production has been completed and a distributor expresses interest in their film. They quickly discover that they must secure E&O insurance in order to make delivery to the distributor, and they cannot obtain such insurance without having a clean chain of title. So, what exactly is chain of title?

Chain of Titles - Indiewire article
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REPLIES:   15

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Posted: 9/21/2016 8:38:09 AM
Fantastic! I'll read the article as soon as I get home from work.. Thanks, SV!
Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 9/21/2016 10:58:57 AM
My pleasure!

The chain of title is indeed part of the preps for making a film - if your goal is to sell it for distro of course. But even if you have no plans on selling it, having all the paperwork is still important, you don't want to have a cease and desist from one of the rights holder, or a talent who suddenly decide the film must disappear.

I made a horror film a couple of years ago, where one of the young actresses had a brief scene of nudity. A couple of years later, the girl shifted career and went into politics. Obviously she didn't want the film to be seen anymore. But I had the chain of title in hand, with her release form. If I hadn't, you can be sure I would have received a legal cease and desist from the political party she joined.

mokkimachi
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Posted: 9/21/2016 12:24:34 PM
Is Mark Litwak still around? 

This is the kind of endless admin that takes the fun out of casual filmmaking. 


Velusion
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Posted: 9/21/2016 1:13:06 PM
Pretty basic article, and it really didn't state anything that your average low budget indie film maker would not already know...  I'm looking for info on such things as architecture. You're shooting a background plate of some mountains that shows houses near the base.  Do you need permission from the owners of the houses?   The other question has to do with cars.  Can a character in the movie drive a car without getting permission from the auto manufacturer. Considering that the aesthetic design of the car is certainly copyrighted, maybe you do... or maybe the world hasn't gone mad and it's still ok to use items and machines for their proposed use in a film without getting permission.  Wearing a shirt.  Riding a bike. Driving a car. I understand that there's a difference between a character driving a car because that's how he/she gets around and a character who's car is a part of their character..  Some schmo who drives his 2002 Grand prix opposed to the slick gigolo who's corvette is a part of his image.  Those are the kinds of things that seem grey to me..  I can't afford a lawyer to answer these kinds of questions but I'm sure they have been asked before.  There must be some general guidelines that can be followed....  Yes, I know the ultimate guideline; "when in doubt, get permission"...
mokkimachi
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Posted: 9/21/2016 1:36:07 PM
Sounds fine.  Film away! 


Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 9/21/2016 1:38:47 PM
I don't think you need permission for house and mountains and generic stuff like that. Same goes for cars, unless you have an extended shot on the manufacturer's logo. I believe there's still room for common sense, and brands won't sue a film studio because their product is seen in a film. It really has to affect their name somehow...!

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Posted: 9/21/2016 4:19:11 PM
Yes. I still believe in common sense.  This is mostly a discussion of E&O insurance.  I have never approached the people who sell it but,  like other insurance companies, I believe they will look for reasons to charge more for their coverage.  Sure, it makes sense that if your character is driving down the street and the camera catches a glimpes of a Mcdonalds sign which happens to be on the street then there shouldn't be a problem since Mcdonalds is not a part of the story and has nothing to do with anything.  It was just there in public view as intended BUT, will the insurance company see that and say "A Mcdonalds sign!  That's going to  raise the price of the insurance since Mcdonalds may object", knowing perfectly well that something like would not happen..... Again, this is just a discussion.  I am stearing clear of trademarks, and copyrighted properties but trademarks and copyrighted properties are all around us. It's nearly impossible to point a camera without catching something that is protected unless you shoot in the middle of the woods or in an empty house..

Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 9/21/2016 5:20:09 PM
Normally E&Os are bought before the shooting, they won't 'adjust' the price based on what they see in the film. But firms do accept to sell E&Os after the film has been wrapped. I never heard of any company who asked to see the film before they sell the insurance though.

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Posted: 9/21/2016 5:30:54 PM
Can you recommend a company?


Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 9/21/2016 6:30:00 PM
Not sure in the US, probably Mike Conway can recommend one, but in Canada I used Globalex insurances. They merged last year with Front Row Insurances. They're probably in the US as well.

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Posted: 9/22/2016 3:32:58 AM
I will certainly look into this... I suppose I'll find all my answers once I contact this company or another but I wonder how they can assess your project based solely on the script.  I mean, you wouldn't mention someone wearing a shirt with Mickey Mouse on it in the script if it had nothing to do with anything yet I've heard that Disney is natorious for going after copyright infringements no matter how small..  So, you make your seemingly "safe" film. The script suggests nothing to be concerned with but in the end, you filmed things that are actionable.  I'm sure the insurance company will want to talk to you about it or possibly drop the insurance... The legal side of any business is probably the least interesting and most diffecult part...  I've never heard Mike talk about E&O insurance..

Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 9/22/2016 5:31:57 AM
Contact the insurance folks, they'll tell you everything. It's simpler than you imagine, probably because of the horror stories that lies everywhere on the web!
E&O covers your butt for stuff you can't really avoid, car logos, shoe brands, signs and ads in the street and so on.
Your character wore a Disney t-shirt? Could you ask him to wear something else? If yes, then it's not an error and might not be covered by yoour insurance. Do you attack in some ways Disney's property or affect the brand's image? If no, you won't have any problem. If yes, and your film becomes a massive success, trouble could be on the way.

Brands will always look into the financial impact of any lawsuit. Is it worth to sue a guy who made a $25k  film that has been seen online by only a few thousand people? Chances are he won't be able to pay a fine, let alone the lawyer charges incurred by the brand. So they just let it go, or at worst send a legal cease and desist. If the filmmaker deliberately attacks the brand, they will strike back full force. Again, if it's worth it financially. There are TONS of movies deliberately attacking McDonald's on Youtube. They rarely move against that because it's not worth it, and it doesn't really affect the company.

Mike Conway
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Posted: 9/22/2016 12:22:55 PM
 I've never used E&O insurance.  If a distributor demanded it, Darlene would have them pay for it.  

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Posted: 9/22/2016 5:36:16 PM
Hmmm... Interesting...

Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 9/22/2016 6:02:57 PM
They paid for it, but it's been added to your recoupables...!
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