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Oct 16

Bringing Tinseltown, USA to New Zealand and Hollywood Entertainment Law

Hollywood Entertainment Law

With the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key’s recent push to attract American television and movie production to New Zealand by offering a 15% tax rebate, we can expect to see an increase in the amount of entertainment employment available. New Zealand actors and film industry workers have experienced working with the American film industry before.

Hollywood Entertainment Law and New Zealand: Often what is offered to film industry workers is a form contract which they are told is non-negotiable. However, the American attorneys at Norris Echetebu Law have experience negotiating contract terms with Hollywood studio legal departments. While some terms may be set in stone, there are many other entertainment law elements of a film industry contract that may be negotiated depending on the type of employment you are undertaking. Knowing which points in the contract are negotiable is a specialized skill that the attorneys at Norris Echetebu Law have learned through experience.

I have been amazed how often we can take a film industry workers’ contract which is completely one-sided in favour of the studio, and through our knowledge of the deal points, transform that contract into one which provides the film industry worker with many more financial incentives. The other point which comes up in our practice in New Zealand again and again is the difference in style between American contracts and New Zealand contracts.

US contract law and practise is filled with intricacies and subtleties which are simply not well understood by most New Zealand lawyers. What is a 3 page agreement in New Zealand will often be a 20 page agreement in the US. Unfortunately, I have seen local New Zealand lawyers without American legal experience miss negotiation points in American contracts which have come back to haunt their client later on. This, of course, is not because New Zealand lawyers are not savvy, it is simply a different style of practice. American contract practise is written from an adversarial perspective from the get go. Leave one chink in the armour exposed and the other party will take advantage of it when things go wrong, and they usually do. Kiwi film industry workers would be well served by obtaining advice from the US attorneys at Norris Echetebu Law when negotiating their US entertainment contract with the Hollywood studios.

 

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