Legal Help...

Pre-story:

    Last year, I was hired by a new director for a Sundance film. After negotiations and flashing great promises in front of my face I can admit I unwittingly agreed to do the project's musical score for no money upfront. But the promise (contracted promise) that any bit of money used for said film would grant me a percentage of it until my fee is paid ($100K). Since then, the guy has only paid a total of $1200 which had been used to hire my musicians and engineers. Obviously, that was only a fraction of what is still owed to those guys. I have a new attorney who has recently passed her BAR in Ohio and is working on the one for Pennsylvania. I am her 'first client' so I'm kind of her experiment. Unfortunately, I had come about her too late. Multiple times throughout my attempts in getting this guy to pay, he has told me, in email, that money is coming - he's even given me dates. The dates come and go and no money. Obviously when I tell the people I owe money to that this stuff is coming and it doesn't...it hurts those people, as well. Most recently, however, the guy has admitted to not ever actually reading the contract, just signing it and sending it back to me. He admitted to have lied about having an attorney read it over as well and that he doesn't actually have representation. Finally, he said he won a civil suit against a Production House for almost a quarter of a million and taunted me saying, "If I can get it - I can have it". I have most of these emails saved and in my attorney's folder. Since we're both new at this I am just trying to figure out if I can actually make a case out of this and to do so...what do I need to do and have?
I can answer any other questions since this is very, very confusing territory for me. This whole thing has caused me to lose a lot (including these people from my network, my relationship, and a plethora of monetary things). I have taken this matter personally and I'd really like this guy to not be allowed to do this to anyone else.
Thanks, in advance.
Once again, I can upload anything I need to help and try to give as much information as possible.

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Replies

  • Hi, I agree with Frederick mostly on this, from what I read the project did not make any good money. So, everyone looses. This is business, and business is risky. Sorry to hear you feel burnt on this, but at the end of the day if the public don't pay then it's just another flop. Learn from this, use hind sight next time, don't pay out more than you can afford and I'm afraid to say it , move on now. Even if you won a court case, you still don't get paid, remember he can just do a runner.  Ta Steve  

    Fredrick zinos said:

    Stephen, you made a work for hire on the condition that if the film was a commercial success you would be paid.If the film does not produce a commerical success you possibly have very little you can claim.

    The only mitigating factor that I can see are the emails that promise that money is coming AND providing you with specific dates and possibly certain amounts. Make sure you keep all of those emails, the dates you received them and the fact that the promised payment dates came and went without you being paid. This might be evidence that the other party acknowledged the debt.

    You can go to court and possibly even win a judgement based on those emails, if you want to spend 10s of thousands of dollars on it. But you probably wont win based on the contract, as I understand it. The next issue is whether the person who signed the contract has any assets. In other words, you might  win a judgement and never see a dime.

    BTW, the defendant's claim that he didn't read the contract holds no water. Moreover, in most cases, ambiguity or error in a contract is strictly construed against the drafter.

    Legal Help...
    Pre-story:     Last year, I was hired by a new director for a Sundance film. After negotiations and flashing great promises in front of my face I can…
  • Frederick and Steve, thank you so much for the responses. This has been my concern and it does make sense.  However, there is still the fact that the item in the contract in terms of money states ANY funding for the film, in general. There are emails of him stating h borrows money to use for the film but none of which to make the payments he owes. And then there is the final 'suit'he has claimed to have won followed by the taunting of 'if you can get it- take it'. Does this hold any ground?

    Once, again, thank you both for your help.

  • Hi, when money is involved, actual or potencial, and if the other party does not want to pay up....Well, they will lie and distort, taunt and deny, simply to either try to prove their case or simply to move to the land of make believe. I have been there before and in the end I just had to back off because the case became a case of muck throwing. The facts seemed to be forgotten, it's your call on how far to take it, but you will struggle and have to answer alot of false comment. Give up when you need to, to keep yourself sane, but leave it clean with a simple and concise allegation and if possible a defind loss value / settlement.(sorry about any spelling errors).Ta Steve.  

    Stephen Tammearu said:

    Frederick and Steve, thank you so much for the responses. This has been my concern and it does make sense.  However, there is still the fact that the item in the contract in terms of money states ANY funding for the film, in general. There are emails of him stating h borrows money to use for the film but none of which to make the payments he owes. And then there is the final 'suit'he has claimed to have won followed by the taunting of 'if you can get it- take it'. Does this hold any ground?

    Once, again, thank you both for your help.

    Legal Help...
    Pre-story:     Last year, I was hired by a new director for a Sundance film. After negotiations and flashing great promises in front of my face I can…
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