Filmmaking is hard. We all know that. Fortunately, we have lots of tools, gadgets, and resources that make almost every phase of production easier: from screenwriting software that formats your scripts for you, to step-by-step online video tutorials. However, one aspect of production still seems to be absent from the bountiful spring of online help: securing, maintaining, and assign the copyrights for projects. Wading through all of the legal jargon, lengthy documents, and confusing rules and regulations can stomp out your creative fire, but, it looks like that's about to change with Chain of Title, a website geared toward making this process a lot less painful.
So, where is this resource? How can you get your hands on all of its useful and vital information? Well -- you can't. Not yet, anyway. Headed by independent documentary filmmaker and producer Jordan Clark, Chain of Title currently has a campaign on Indiegogo with a goal to reach $48,000 by June 1st. Check out the campaign video to learn more about what Chain of Title offers:
The website will offer descriptions of copyright laws and processes both in layman's terms and legal terms with videos to go along with each one. It will show you what you need, what it is, and how to get it. If you're on set and you have a question about trademarks, products, locations, you can access that information on your phone or online through Chain of Title's website. Not only that, but Chain of Title gives you access to extra releases, waiver forms, and other forms and documentation you may need on the go. Oh, did I mention that it's all free? Well -- it is. 100% free.
Why is all of that important to independent filmmakers? Well, Chain of Title gets its name from the series of documents and agreements that establish proprietary rights in a film; the "chain of title". It's one, if not the most important thing to secure when selling or distributing your work, since distributors and broadcasters won't touch it unless it has E&O insurance (errors and omissions), which you can't get without a clean chain of title.
For the independent film community, I think this would be an invaluable resource to have. Most of us view ourselves as artists, auteurs, or just people who like to have fun by making movies. But, I doubt that most of us would consider ourselves primarily salespeople or attorneys. Clark shares about his experience being an independent filmmaker and having to deal with the task of learning about copyright law.
I wish that there had been something like this for me when I needed it -- When I started making my first film I had no idea how to do this. I had to go out and find the resources available, usually in a book written by a lawyer. But, these books were based on winning or losing based on copyright law, and I wasn't so concerned about winning or losing, because I didn't have the money to go to trial if there was an issue. My concern was complete avoidance of problems.
With Chain of Title, independent filmmakers can approach their projects in a different way: with less fear and more confidence knowing that the legal aspect is simplified for them. You don't have to become a lawyer overnight. You don't have to sweat over unknowingly infringing on other people's copyrights, or being helpless when someone has infringed on yours. You can easily learn what you need to know so your film isn't dead in the water.
So, if you think that Chain of Title would be a valuable resource for independent filmmakers, check out their Indiegogo campaign. It's full of tons of information, perks, and even a pie chart that breaks down the cost of building the website. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.
What do you think about Chain of Title? What was it like for you going through this aspect of production? Would a resource like this be helpful?