Bronze Lens Film Festival 2015: Legal Mash-up for Filmmakers Recap


On Thursday, November 5, I had the pleasure of speaking once again to the audience at the Bronze Lens Film Festival (BLFF), held every year since 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. The BLFF has a dual mission “to promote Atlanta as the new film mecca for people of color; and to showcase films and provide networking opportunities that will develop the next generation of filmmakers.”

In 2013 I moderated a panel focused on the legal issues of distribution and what happens after you make the movie. This year I was joined by Jonathan Mason of the Mason Law Group ( to offer a 3-hour workshop called “Lawyer Up: Legal Mash-up for Filmmakers.” The session offered attendees an overview of legal issues for creators of films, documentaries and TV shows.  Topics included: copyrights, option contracts, life rights, title clearances, talent agreements, distribution, and more.  Our discussion included insights from significant and recent entertainment cases. Jonathan and I were a bit ambitious – creating a slide deck of 138 slides trying to cover as much as we could. We got through slide 68, partly because we had such great interaction with the participants. It was more like an open discussion and some of the questions put Jonathan and I on our toes. As always we can’t give legal advice during these sessions but try to offer guidance and resources for those who attend. You can download a pdf for the slides below.


BLFF Legal Mashup for Filmmakers Nov2015 (to download click on the title to the left)

As I prepared this recap I thought it would be useful to include information about why these film festivals are so important. BLFF’s Founding Artistic Director, Deidre McDonald (@Deidre_McD) talked about three key words in her welcome – Elevate, Evolve, and Create. “We want to raise the level or what we do and how it impacts those who attend the festival; we want to grow and reach you in new and exciting ways; and we want to spark a synergy with you that generates inspiration to produce, promote, and support excellent storytelling that reaches audiences.”

Saskia Wilson-Brown of the Workbook Project sums it up this way:

Here are some points, then, on the value and purpose of film festivals, above and beyond commerce:

  • To curate, provide imprimatur and thus help shape culture;
  • To create access to independent voices and new stories within specific, underserved geographic communities;
  • To educate filmmakers;
  • To grow independent film communities and foster creative collaboration;
  • To help create de facto four-wall releases for filmmakers through festival-run programs and partnerships above and beyond the event itself;
  • To assist with DIY distribution by offering access to distribution tools through festival-run partnerships with emerging content platforms.

Are you involved in film festivals – participating by viewing the film, submitting films in the festivals, being part of the panels, volunteering, etc.? Do you enjoy them? What do you get out of it? Share your thoughts on your film festival experiences.


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IndieWire: Essential Film Festival Tips

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