How To Prepare Your Production: Part 1 The Contracts

Preparing a production is always a difficult task. It’s like reading the future into a crystal ball! However, you can prepare yourself for…

3 years ago   •   3 min read

By Gwénaëlle Dupré

Preparing a production is always a difficult task. It’s like reading the future into a crystal ball! However, you can prepare yourself for most of the issues you may encounter.

In these series, we’ll cover five major points to secure. For each of them, we will dedicate a full article. As a first topic, I chose the production contracts. I’m going to tell you everything needed for you, your contractors and your clients.

The first thing is to make sure you have a copy of all legal documents related to the project, or at least an extract with the useful information. And of course, it’s even better if you can be part of the writing of these contracts! Your insight can help to ease some tricky point and you will be better informed.

The contract for the client

Most of the time your clients will be the broadcasters of your movie. On this kind of contract, you will find two parts:

  • One about the schedule, the budget, and the delivery milestones
  • One about the technical specificity of the deliveries

You need to take extra care of the first part but read also the technical one. It can be tough to read but don’t worry, your post-production contractor will do most of the heavy lifting. Keep in mind that this information can be a lifesaver. For example, if your clients want to receive a physical support, you can save time and money to suggest them numerical files instead.

Take notes of the number of the deliveries required. Be careful, the information can be spread in different parts. Especially if a client has his own library and wants a backup duplicate. It’s important to not forget a delivery!

You need to highlight and report the milestones on your schedule. Most of the time you will be paid at the beginning, the middle and the end of particular steps of the production. You need to be aware of these steps to manage your project properly and to give the right information to your accounting.

You will also find the detail of the validation steps. The number of days the clients have to validate or ask for a retake. This period cannot be shortened which affects your schedule. You will also find how much time you spend on discussing the retakes.

For the technical part, forward it to your post-production contractor. You will also find details for your animation contractor, like the frame rate, the resolution, etc.

The contract for the animation contractor

It’s the most important contract for you as production team. The information is critical for your schedule and your organization. Also in terms of technical delivery and milestones. It contains mainly:

  • The time the contractor has to do the first animation retake (Take 1)
  • The time your team have to check the animation
  • The number of back and forth allowed
  • The time the animation has to achieve other retakes (Takes)
  • The time you have to check the retakes
  • The percentage of artistic retakes allowed
  • The price for the extra retakes

Keep in mind all this information, and organize your teams and schedule according to it.

You need to take extra care of the technical parts. The animation chart should describe what work you will send to them and how they should deliver it:

  • Storyboard
  • Color backgrounds
  • Graphics and screen designs
  • Animation size and field guide
  • Animation
  • Animation colors & pre-compositing
  • Animation length
  • In between

It’s the common ground for everybody. Stick to it to avoid any flaw in the collaboration with your contractor.

The contract for the post-production contractor

Once again, this contract is in two parts: schedule/budget and technical. The technical part will be the gathering of all the clients’ technical contracts.

Your post-production contractor is responsible for the client’s acceptation of the delivery. It’s important to detail every step on the contract.

It’s also the last step of your production; any delay on the previous steps will influence them. The setting of their schedule is very tricky. For most of their steps like the editing, the SFX, the foleys, and the mix, they will have to book a specific person and a specific room. It can be difficult for them to have flexibility on their schedule.

To sum-up

The contracts are the bare bones of your production. It’s the roadmap that everybody will follow. It eases the communication by defining common grounds, but also it protects you if something goes wrong.

Being well aware of your contract will be a first good step for damage control on your production later. So make sure you carefully understand them and communicate their content to the rest of the team!

The next article will describe how you should handle the schedule of your production. Stay tuned!

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