Must-have Legal Paperwork

In addition to keeping your marketing materials handy, when you embark on your entertainment journey, you’ll likely discover you’ll need to familiarize yourself with quite a few other documents needed in order to work.  Here are a few examples.

Non-disclosure Agreement: This is a legally enforceable contract that is entered into in order to establish a confidential relationship between two parties – one which holds private information and one who is given privileged access to it.  The purpose of this type of agreement is to ensure the party being given information does not release it to anyone else.  It is common to sign a non-disclosure agreement before beginning to work on a project.  Often, it comes with an expiration date.

Work Permits and Coogan Accounts for Minors. These documents could be relevant if you are a minor or are hoping to get a child started in the entertainment business.  There are stricter standards for employing individuals under 18, including caps on the amount of time they can work, standards for working conditions, and specific wage requirements.  A work permit is a document that is signed which allows a child to work, often rather than going to school or fulfilling some other responsibility.  Children employed in certain states may also be required to set up a Coogan account, which is a trust account established to safeguard a percentage of a child entertainer’s earnings for use when they become an adult.  SAG-AFTRA offers more information on the Coogan law.

Passport. This document is required for any international travel.  If you are planning to become involved in a project that requires travel, it’s always best to have a valid, unexpired passport handy so you don’t have any issues making it to the set.

Agency/Management Contracts. These are sometimes termed general services agreements, which are contracts outlining a talent’s plan of work and the relationship between this individual and an agent or manager.  The contract includes the length of time the talent will be represented, coverage limitations, and an agent or manager’s commission to be withheld from any earnings.

These are just a few of the legal forms and processes that you may encounter during your time in entertainment.  If you have any questions about a document you are being asked to sign, always consult a lawyer or someone who is knowledgeable enough to navigate you through the process.  Never be afraid to hesitate, or even refuse to sign, should something seem ‘off.’

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