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If paperwork, contacts and E&O Insurance was as sexy as a new 8K camera then filmmaker would never get into legal trouble when making their film. Alas it is not sexy and filmmakers, myself included, hate even thinking about that side of the business. One thing I’ve learned over the years is if you don’t understand the business side of “show business” you will get burned.
Filmmakers ask me legal advice all the time, why I have no idea, and I always say you should speak to an attorney and cover your butt. I’ve been wanting to have an attorney on the show for a while now to answer not only your legal questions but mine as well. Today’s guest is entertainment lawyer Walter B. Batt Attorney at Law.
Here’s a bit about today’s guest: Walter Batt is an Entertainment Lawyer located in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Batt is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in International Business and a Juris Doctor from the University of Miami-Coral Gables. Licensed in Florida and California, his boutique practice focuses, negotiation and contract development in addition to production support for films. With experience in myriad areas of entertainment and general business, Mr. Batt’s client base is diverse consisting of actors, production companies, public relations and marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, and distilled spirits manufacturing and distribution. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Batt occasionally represents selective clients in litigation matters, when required. As an avid exercise guy, Mr. Batt enjoys the gym in addition to films, friends and most of all his best clients–his dogs.
Here are some of the filmmaking legal pitfalls we discuss:
- Can you shoot without a permit on the street?
- Can you use a corporate logo in your film without permission?
- What is the truth behind using logos in an indie film?
- Can you shoot in front of a business with a logo and use it without permission?
- Do you need to form a company to make a film?
- Is it necessary to obtain a release from everyone whose face appears on camera?
- How do I check whether my movie name is available?
- How do I prepare a prospectus and/or investor memorandum for my film?
- What type of insurance should a filmmaker consider?
- What’s the deal with referring to copyright/trademarked material in a script?
- How do I copyright my script?
- What are some good filmmaking legal resources are out there?
- When should you begin to work with an entertainment attorney?
If you are making a feature, short, web series, streaming show or any content you plan to sell then this podcast is mandatory.
Enjoy my conversation with entertainment lawyer Walter B. Batt.
Alex Ferrari 4:10
Today's guest is Walter B. Batt. He is an entertainment attorney here in Los Angeles. And Walter and I have done some business together and I you know, we've talked a bunch and I invited him on the show. I'm like, hey, Walter, can you just come on the show? and answer basically every legal question I want to ask you about the filmmaking process and see if we can help some of the tribe members, because I feel that that you know, filmmakers just constantly forget about this aspect of the filmmaking process. And it isn't a filmmaking process. part of the process. It is not sexy. It is not something I want to think about. But that's why you hire people like Walter to think about it for you. But if you don't, there are other options. There's legal resources, which we'll talk about, but at the end of the day, you should always try to consult an attorney before making a movie, especially if you're gonna make a movie. With any sort of substantial budget, and especially if you're gonna make a movie that you're going to try to sell, just like I say, all the time, if you're going to go into a to make a movie, it's probably a wise idea to get a consultant in regards to post production regards to the whole workflow, why not spend a little bit of money, ask the questions, and they can save you 1000s of dollars going down the line. Same thing goes for an attorney. If you pay an attorney one or two hours of their time just to ask a bunch of questions. It is well worth the money to do so. But in this episode, I really beat Walter up a lot and and every question I've ever been asked, or I wanted to know about the legal aspects of filmmaking, I asked Walter and he was so amazingly generous with his time and his knowledge. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Walter B. Batt. I like to welcome to the show, Walter B. Batt man, thanks so much for being on the show, man.
Walter B. Batt 5:56
Alex Ferrari 5:57
You are entertainment attorney extraordinare. And, and we've done some, some work together. So I really appreciate everything you do. And thank you for taking the time out to come in and answer all of our foolish questions.
Walter B. Batt 6:09
It's my pleasure to be here, Alex, thank you for inviting me.
Alex Ferrari 6:12
I appreciate it. Alright, so I'm going to ask a ton of questions that filmmakers like myself and other filmmakers always want to know. So basic, I'll start you off with what is the most? Can you discuss the most common legal mistake you see filmmakers make when they make a feature film?
Walter B. Batt 6:28
Absolutely. And let me just say, as an intro here, this, our interview here today is not meant to be legal advice to anyone. And I think it's important that if there are questions or project or things that a filmmaker needs advice on that they retain an attorney to get thorough advice, and, and I can't do that here as we speak, because I don't know the details. So this is really meant to be informative.
Alex Ferrari 6:55
And yes, we have to cover our butts. Yes, absolutely.
Walter B. Batt 6:59
That's what I do. Very well, sir. Yes. So yeah, you know, I think Alex what I see really it's a quite a simple mistake is Pennywise and pound foolish and the filmmakers will proceed on production and legal on a project without an attorney. They oftentimes we'll go online and look at websites where they have boilerplate documents and things and you know, sometimes it can work out but I think the biggest mistake I see is that an attorney is not consulted, at least on one general console. So there's a framework laid down for the filmmaker so they don't end up with a film that that can't be delivered properly.
Alex Ferrari 7:52
Right and that's and and I've seen that happen many times where they don't have their legal P's and Q's order and movies just can't get delivered they have a distribution deal on the table. And the distributors like without that paperwork, I can't take the risk.
Walter B. Batt 8:05
Yes, you know, I had a situation one time where a filmmaker came to me The film was in the can all the contracts were done all the main contracts were done, they got to do and they were missing the one document which is has various names but it's called the results of proceeds basically and that is that each person's contribution to the film is a work for hire and that the company producing the film owns all of it and has the rights to assign those rights. And that document was missing for everyone that not just the actors but the above line people and the film could not be delivered. So they came to me and said can you fix this and I did. Okay, that's what I do. I'm a fixer but you know, it was infinitely harder Alex to do that by tracking everyone down one of the actors hiking in the Himalayas you know got it you know helicopter in with one of these documents to be signed No.
Alex Ferrari 9:20
I was gonna say no one in any budget.
Walter B. Batt 9:23
But you know what, it almost felt like a thank God I found the one fax machine in the Himalayas, right? You know that that was so much harder than it had to be if it just been signed from the get go. And if you'd had some advice up front, you would have known you needed the document.
Alex Ferrari 9:40
Very interesting, but how about if you have all the actors sign you know, paperwork stating that that this is a work for hire, and they're getting paid X dollars and and so on.
Walter B. Batt 9:49
All the contracts said that, but what they want is is this there's one specific document that many distributors want. That is a In a basic standard document for each party that grants all the rights to everything they've done creatively, any sort of edit any sort of ad libbing anything, sure, anything whatsoever so that you can, an actor can come back and say, I only released my image name and likeness. But I wrote one page of dialogue for myself and that I own it, and no one got that release. And people don't think about it, because sometimes people step out of their shoes. And an actor becomes, you know, pitches something in the in the writer say, Oh, great, yeah, let's put that in. And then the actor gets upset, and then causes a problem.
Alex Ferrari 10:45
Gotcha. Okay. Now, can you discuss the truth behind using logos in indie films, that's something that's always perplexed me, because you see movies like clerks that was in a, in a convenience store, or any kind of video store in a movie or something like that, that obviously they don't have the rights to all of those things, especially in an indie world. what's the what's the rules behind that?
Walter B. Batt 11:09
Well, it It's, um, it's actually quite simple. I mean, in terms of focus, and what is considered a featured and what is anecdotal in terms of background. So if you walk into a convenience store, and you jury doing a pan of an actor, and you're, as you're panning, you're running by, you know, Pampers,
Alex Ferrari 11:34
chair, tide, whatever, Sheriff, green,
Walter B. Batt 11:37
green beings, whatever, you know, said, you see all these things. Here, as the cameras moving, there's no real focus on any of those brands, those labels or logos. So generally speaking, you should be good in that circumstance. Most often, especially when you look at a script, and you're vetting it to see the shots to see what might occur, what issues there might be, you want to you want to know that detail. So for example, if you're going to stop on a two shot, and behind them, right, between the two of them is a big box of tide, who said you might not want to do that, because then it could be seen as an advertisement for tide,
Alex Ferrari 12:23
you know, with tide care about that, if, depending on the on the content of the scene.
Walter B. Batt 12:27
Right? It depends on what the two people are talking about. I mean, if you know, if it's a serious scene and some touchy subject, and it's framed between a box of tide, might not like that, if it's a conversation where they're talking about the best way to wash clothes, and what kind of detergent they're going to put in the washer, they might be happy with that, right? You don't want to take that that risk. So basically, if you're going to feature a logo, then you need to get rights to see ya
Alex Ferrari 12:58
know, I heard like I just worked on a show. That was, you know, it's a big show on Lionsgate and they, they were, I heard overheard the producers talking in the in the Edit room, where I'm like, Hey, you know, do you guys have the right for that Coca Cola cup that the guy is drinking? Just curious. He's like, No, you don't really need the rights to that because it's being used as it's intended. So if you know unless someone's choking on the coke, or they're saying something negative about it, or or doing something else, that it's not supposed to be the intended way, then that's where there's a problem I was like, and obviously has gotten it went through because it didn't have the rights to it. So is that true? To a certain extent?
Walter B. Batt 13:40
Well, no, that's not true. I mean, just because you're using a product the way it's intended, just lessens the risk that the owner of the intellectual property is not going to give you a hard time. So you know, and of course, a product or company can be defamed just like the person can. So you you run a risk depending on the content of the scene, that you're associating the logo and the company with a subject matter they don't want to be associated with
Alex Ferrari 14:14
Are you familiar with the john deere case with Disney?
Walter B. Batt 14:19
Alex Ferrari 14:20
the one that they like the the story that I heard and this is what I because I actually started digging into it with the producers and they said well when john deere the obviously they do you know earthmoving things and tractors and all that kind of stuff. In a in a straight to video sequel called jungle two jungle Tim Allen movie back in the 90s. They use john deere gear to rip down the rain forest. And john deere sued Disney and it went all the way to the Supreme Court and the court basically said no, that Disney you're you're basically using your your equipment as is intended to be it You You made a tractor of tractors do this. So there's no there's no harm, there's no foul and they want to my knowledge. I'm not sure I again, this is all secondhand. So I'm not sure is what do you think of that just out of curiosity?
Walter B. Batt 15:13
Well, you know, I don't know what the holding actually sad in that case, but I can tell you that it depends on what what the actual complaint was. And, you know, obviously, if you're using a piece of john deere equipment with their intellectual property, they control that, and they control absolutely, who can use it, and where it goes, and for what purpose? That's the essence of intellectual property is this, you own it. So it would be analogous to someone coming in your home and using it to sleep in? Yes, that's its intended purpose, but they don't own the home. So you can't say, well, very well. Okay. So they were sleeping there, then there's not a problem. There is a problem, because in this case, john deere has the right to say yes or no. Anytime their their logo, their green and yellow was used. Hmm. And so in that circumstance, they should be able to stop them. I don't know what the particulars were in that case. But I'm, you know, I'm interested, I think it's, it's kind of surprising to me that the Supreme Court would say, Well, someone can use intellectual property without permission.
Alex Ferrari 16:27
Right, as long as it's using the intended way again, and again, I'm not the guy, I'm not illegal. I just heard this secondhand, so I have to do the research on it myself. So basically, in general, as a general statement, when doing an indie film, unless you have the rights for the movie, or for the product, unless it's something you cannot control, like, working like doing a scene in a supermarket, or doing the scene in a convenience store or a video store, if they even know what those are anymore. But, or something like that. Or like, which leads me to my next question, how about if you're on the on the South Beach strip, you're on Ocean Drive, and that and you're all those hotels, and you're doing a scene and the hotels are in the background and their logos are in the background? You're doing the scene on the beach? Do you need rights from all of those hotels? No,
Walter B. Batt 17:11
as long as you're just if it's a moving shot, as you're walking down the street, you're in the public domain, you have the right proper permit to be shooting, you're fine. If you if you walk up to the tides hotel, with a beautiful place to sit outside, and you sit at a table and the waiter comes up and says Welcome to the title hotel and hand you a menu and the title logo is on the menu while you're having that conversation. Sure, you're better off going to the owner and saying we're going to want to shoot this shot and you probably would have had to anybody department to shoot there. But you wouldn't want to gorilla shoot that because then now you're you're you're featuring the tides and monitoring their intellectual property. So it's always better to get the permission than to wait, produce the film, release it and then get a nasty letter from someone like me that says, Take this out of the film.
Alex Ferrari 18:12
Got it or Greek it out or have it visually effect out or something on the rise. Got it.
Walter B. Batt 18:17
You know, hold a two minute scene at a table just you know cost us
Alex Ferrari 18:21
another $3,000 in visual effects cleanup work. Exactly. God, or you could have just paid them originally. Right? So now another big mystery to a lot of filmmakers, especially indie filmmakers, is the need to open up a company per movie like an actual LLC per movie. Do you actually need to form a company every time you make a feature film?
Walter B. Batt 18:48
No, you don't. You can you know, some indie filmmakers have a company and they'll run their their production through that company. The reason that you really want to have a separate LLC or Corp or however you're going to set up the film is to segregate costs, and investments and profits. So that you're not commingling them, let's say three different productions. So that becomes a lot more complicated than if you just create an LLC. And everything's run through that. And that's what most investors are going to want anyway because they don't want their money getting commingled with other projects.
Alex Ferrari 19:30
Now, but on a legal standpoint, though, let's say someone Sue's like Coca Cola, I killed somebody with a Coca Cola bottle and I didn't get the rights to it in my movie, and they sue. If they sue the LLC, it stops at the LLC, they can't continue to sue the production company. Let's say like if I have my own production company, but I created a specific LLC for that movie. It stops at the LLC, is that correct? as a form of protection?
Walter B. Batt 19:55
Yes, it is a form of protection. That's it's a limited liability company. Which is the Main reason that LLC fees came to be that they're sort of a fiction of the state might affect the federal government doesn't even recognize them. They're just considered a state set up and basically, they're to create liability protection for the actual parties behind the LLC. Now, I'm sure you Alex may have heard of the term piercing the corporate veil?
Alex Ferrari 20:29
No, I've never heard that before. What does that mean? Okay,
Walter B. Batt 20:32
piercing the corporate veil is when an especially neophytes that are starting in the business, and they do, you know, they open a company, I do what they think is right, and they set up an LLC for their project. And then they transfer money from their personal account into that LLC, they use their personal credit card, they, you know, short a little bit, either groceries out of that account, and then they're gonna pay it back. Now what they've done is, they have created what's called an alter ego. In other words, that LLC could be pierced, and the liability then could go to the actual filmmaker, and the filmmakers assets, and anyone involved in that film, because they use the LLC for personal purposes. So you cannot do that. I'll say it one more time, you cannot do that, what you really want to do is set up that LLC strictly for the purpose of handling the monies that go in and out for that film. And that's all, when you start the very first investment, of course, you can loan the LLC money. And he should have a document that says it's a loan and you pay it back. And that is a legitimate way to get seed money put into a project into an LLC to get going. But you can't use it as a personal bank account. Because if you do you lose your liberal, or you risk losing your limited liability protection.
Alex Ferrari 22:05
So then that's why you have to open up a bank account for that, LLC, you should have a debit card for that LLC. And then if you're going to be making any payments, you use either cheques or that that debit card for that specific production that is only for things for that production.
Walter B. Batt 22:21
That's right, you want everything separated. And to the extent that you have a problem, getting a card because there's no credit for the LLC. That's why it's important to have a relationship with a bank. And often new filmmakers don't. So there are ways around it getting like you said a debit card or things where credit's not extended. And they put some sort of guarantee on the funds in the LLC account. And it's just, you know, it's an accounting question so that you can basically set yourself up in a way to keep all of the film costs and profits separate. That's the goal.
Alex Ferrari 22:58
Excellent. Now, do you is it actually necessary to obtain releases from everybody's face? Anyone who has a face that appears in on camera, anywhere in the movie?
Walter B. Batt 23:10
Again, we're that from an attorney perspective, I always say yes, I want you to have release, it's for everyone, because it minimizes the risk. And someone won't get upset that later, you perceive to be not a featured person. And that person shows up in the film, and the person sees it and says, Wait a minute, I didn't want to be in this film. I you know, this was shot in a year that I said, I live down to the country. And now you are causing me liability? liability, because now I'm in this film that was shot in the US and I wasn't supposed to be there. Okay, so I mean, these are always on the margin things. You know, as attorneys, we always have delightful information to impart on people.
Alex Ferrari 23:59
So that's what I want to do on the show.
Walter B. Batt 24:02
Exactly. You know, I mean, to digress a second, I always know I call a client, and a lot of times, they'll say, it's you what, you take it personally because you know what, now rather, I'm the purveyor of the point 1% of the problem that could occur, not the 99.9% that it won't occur, right? And the reason is, is because that's what you pay an attorney for is those things you don't think of, that you need to be protected from because I can promise you if I was your attorney, and in this scenario, that person sent a cease and desist and wanted that film pulled that you'd say to me, Walter, why can you tell me Okay, so, you know, that's, that's what I do. And in this circumstance, in terms of what you're asking, if you're walking down the street, we'll use that analogy again and you're on the sidewalk. Sure. And there are people passing by as this is going those people pass. By you don't need a release from them, they're just sort of, they're not featured there momentarily in the shot and pass through. And so it's not not really necessary, I use the example of you go to a sporting event, try and maybe you have seen it, there's a big sign there as you come in. And notice, we are filming. By entering this complex, you, you are consenting to the ride for us to film and that you may appear in the film, you ever see that?
Alex Ferrari 25:30
I've put them up myself, okay.
Walter B. Batt 25:33
So that's a great thing to do. Because it's a notice issue. You're basically wanting to tell someone, Hey, you, if you walk in here, you can say you didn't know that we weren't filming here. And there's a sign there. Now, truth be told, that's only risk mitigation. It doesn't guarantee you that someone, say, the pretty girl or the handsome guy, or the couple that's in the stadium, and the filmmaker goes, Oh, look at those two, they'd be great as a background for this part of the story, so they zoom in on these two, and focus on them. Now they become not incidental, they become feature at that point. And there's liability there because you can't use that focus that that main attention on those individuals using a general release and disclaimer by entering the premises because that's really not what you're asking. What you're what you're asking them to do is to be unnoticed that they could be momentarily on camera, not featured, right with a shot where they're held in focus. This is so so in in terms of your question. No, you don't need to release all the time, especially in big large crowd shots, or in public, in a shopping mall, those kinds of things. But depending on the risk mitigation, and if I were reading a script, I would say if you were in a shopping mall, that you might want to just hire 20 extras to stroll by, and then get releases. But if you don't want to pay the money, then you go on the mall and you shoot and you have minimal risk. It's always there.
Alex Ferrari 27:23
But no, but if you shoot it, that's only if their face is shown you can show people's backs and other things like that without a problem, correct?
Walter B. Batt 27:30
Yes, it's image and likeness. In other words, you have to be able to, to see the my, my right of publicity. And privacy is about you're recognizing me. So if you're shooting, you know, in a way that I can be easily identified arlis of what angle of shot that you're taking, then the risk is there. But if it's a shot from the back, and reasonable person would not be able to identify the person, then you're good.
Alex Ferrari 28:05
Now, just wanted to go back real quick to a logo, a logo question. If someone's on an iPhone, and they're checking their their their messages or their email or something like that, and the Apple logo is there while they're doing it, nothing's happening. It's just standard, just checking stuff. Is that something that needs to be mitigated? Is that something that needs to be removed?
Walter B. Batt 28:24
Okay, in this circumstance, I would not do that. And the reason that I would, I would advise against that is there are there are product logos that have special status, because they're so well known that you don't even need the name of the company to know who it is. Sure, Apple and Apple, certainly one of them, if not the penultimate one. And so in that regard, they're very protective of that logo. And again, it's not just the logo on the phone that's incidentally shown. But what is the film about what is happening? What are they doing with the phone? What what kind of association occurs with that logo, and that's what Apple and anyone with a logo that's easily identified like that with special status especially, is very protective up. So I'm sure that you've seen situations where someone is on an apple laptop,
Alex Ferrari 29:30
but always covered.
Walter B. Batt 29:32
Yes, all the sudden you look in that and you're sort of like, what, you know, when you're a kid, and there's that highlights magazine where you have to kind of focus on something and you see the person with the laptop and you're like, What's different? That's an apple laptop, and you notice and you realize that the glowing Apple is not there,
Alex Ferrari 29:50
or they've just covered up just just Greek that out in way that right that just, you know, it's there, but it's not officially there.
Walter B. Batt 29:58
Right. It's it. You can't tell that it's the Apple logo. So you may know it. But you think, oh, that doesn't look right. But that then you're doing what you need to do to mitigate the risk, because then you reasonable person might say, well, could be might not be. And then you're in the zone a little bit more of a safety area.
Alex Ferrari 30:17
So if it's if it's in someone's pocket, and they're kind of walking around, and it's very small in the background, is that a big deal economy ca kind of don't either then even if it's in the background, not even being touched?
Walter B. Batt 30:29
You know, I'm gonna give you the lawyer answer. Yes. mitigate. Yes. Get rid of it. Yes. mitigate. mitigate, mitigate, mitigate. That's right. You know, it's like, when you buy property, what do they say? location, location, location, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate?
Alex Ferrari 30:44
Alright. So when you check, do when you come up with a title for a movie, I know titles, arguably cannot be copy written, unless it's a trademark? Is there a place where you can check to see if the title is available? Or what is the whole legal thing with titles because obviously, I can't come up with a movie called Star Wars, because that's a trademark. But you can come up with a movie called mag for like, cuz I did a movie called This is Meg. And there's other movies or have the word Meg in it? Or? I mean, how many? I don't even know what movie that would even make sense. Halloween, you can't use Halloween, obviously, because that's associated with a cat. A bunch of movies as well, I don't know, what's the legal thing in regards to titles because I know that's a big thing a lot of people always get caught up in. Well,
Walter B. Batt 31:35
basically, what you need to do is what you should do as a title search. And there, there are companies that specialize in this. And what they do is, is you order a title search for the name of your film, and they come back and give you a sort of basically a risk analysis, they tell you, here are the films that with similar or the same names, and these, we recommend that you do not use this title for the following reasons. And then they you get the reasons that this title report, or they're the risk, in your opinion is not great enough. And in the title search companies, opinion is, is not great enough. And then you say, okay, fine, I'll take the risk, not one of the main companies, excuse me out. One of the main companies that does that is Thomson Reuters, and Thomson, you can order now they're not cheap. They're, you know, potentially several hundreds of dollars, sometimes up to 800 or more. So that's the best way to ensure you know, the title on your film is clear.
Alex Ferrari 32:45
Got it? And And is there a big difference between short film titles as opposed to feature film titles? Does it really matter?
Walter B. Batt 32:53
difference in terms of risk? Yeah. Yeah, for a short film, you know, it's the sort of level of exposure and the, the, the sort of competitive element of the film, you know, are you going to go out there and, and cause someone in the public to believe that you are associated with a film of a similar name.
Alex Ferrari 33:21
That's, that's, that's been done before?
Walter B. Batt 33:25
Well, we know that
Alex Ferrari 33:26
trans trans morphers, trans morphers was fantastic.
Walter B. Batt 33:31
That's one of mine, too. So basically, when it comes to a short, it's much less risk and much less attention on it. And, you know, if there's any sort of grace left out there, most people would not come with a cease and desist on that kind of situation with a short
Alex Ferrari 33:49
no perfect example though. Transformers and trans morphers there's that company asylum who lives their entire business plan is about piggybacking on big studio releases and making cheap rip offs of them. How does that work? Like, because obviously trans morphers if you look at the cover, if you don't know and you're just another person just scanning it kind of looks like transformers.
Walter B. Batt 34:13
Yeah, yes. Well, you know, basically, it parody area.
Alex Ferrari 34:22
The parody area yes
Walter B. Batt 34:27
that's what they're doing. They're, they're, they're, they're going down the parody, you know, superhighway, and this and then they get a special sort of right to do that. So, you know, the font is also different on trans morphers on transformers. And the, the way that they approach it, you know, they, it there's a humor element to trans morphers that You're thinking, yes. You know that sort of. I think there's something in there about this is a bad movie
Alex Ferrari 35:07
or Yeah, sure, of course. Yeah,
Walter B. Batt 35:10
sure. Yeah. You know, and you pretty much if you're looking, you're not going to confuse that with transformers. Although you may think of Transformers you can see, it's clearly not not the same. Sure. It's a production? Yes.
Alex Ferrari 35:24
Got it. Now, with all with everything, all these questions I've asked you in the world that we live in today, where there's a lot of self distribution, as opposed to going through distribution companies, where people could just upload their film to Amazon Prime right now, individually, and start selling it without the need for distribution company, a lot of those things that that you're asking for, like the different rights and contracts and things like that, that go along with a standard release. You know, if you make a movie for five grand, and put it up on Amazon, Amazon's not asking for any of this, they're not asking for E and O insurance and not anything. So you're basically just taking a huge risk by doing it without these things, from a filmmakers point of view, correct? Correct. When the chances it's all about exposure, and if you'll get caught, if anyone even cares enough to send a cease and desist order or anything like that,
Walter B. Batt 36:19
it's really the latter point you're making, I mean, honestly, you know, in the in the size of that kind of market of a film, it's going to cost a company, more money to actually issue the cease and desist than the film cost to make. So you know, that and they also, the reality of it is, if they're gonna do it, it's because they, they're upset, and they want something from you. So when they're looking at a film that cost 5000, to make and was self produced, self distributed, that sort of a, an indicator that there's not a whole lot of deep pockets there. Right? So, you know, that's the hard situate, the hard luck way to look at this is, it's all about money. And so they're probably not going to come after you. And again, I, I sort of always fall back on this idea that all of these avenues of distribution and self distribution are better for everyone. Because it makes more people interested in entertainment, they're more apt to go online and come across another movie that someone who might be upset with a particular self distributed movie otherwise wouldn't have gotten that person to be a purveyor of their film. So it helps everybody in the greater good to allow creative contributions to films that are that are smaller and allows people to grow and to develop into bigger filmmakers. So I always hope that people take that approach when someone comes to me, and rarely do I ever get a call on a situation like this. But with when it does happen, my approach is usually that, you know, contacting opposing counsel and saying, you know, come on,
Alex Ferrari 38:14
do you really? Do you really want to go down this road guys?
Walter B. Batt 38:17
I'm like, you know what, let me just put it to you this way, this phone call is the entire budget the person has. So if you really want to talk about something here, then there ain't going to be anything left for you. Because I already got it.
Alex Ferrari 38:30
Yeah, that's pretty that's pretty much they ain't got no more money. Like, that's right. They knock that all out, which is hiring me for this phone call.
Walter B. Batt 38:38
That's right. And I gave him a discount rate on this call. Honestly, there's not going to be anything there for you. So you know, go get a Starbucks and calm down.
Alex Ferrari 38:47
And it also depends to like, depending on how big of a situation it could be a PR nightmare for certain for certain movies, and certain companies trying to go after those movies. Which is, which brings me a great example of remember that movie a few years ago that this filmmaker went in Disneyland and shot an entire movie? Oh, yeah. Disneyland? Yes. Shooting, I mean, trademarks everywhere, literally. And they made a whole kind of like a horror movie, like a psychedelic horror movie about being a Disneyland. And everyone's like, there's no way Disney is going to let that go. Because Disney is obviously very famous for controlling their copyright and their trademark. And everybody was expecting a major battle and Disney did nothing. Yes, because they felt that if we put our feed into this, it's just going to bring more attention to it. And that's what people are going to be interested in selling. So they just decided to take that approach is that basically what happened?
Walter B. Batt 39:39
Right? Well, I mean, basically, I think you're talking about escape from tomorrow. Yes. Okay. All right. Yeah. You know, first of all, how great is this that this person is it's
Alex Ferrari 39:50
actually quite genius to do it.
Walter B. Batt 39:53
It's amazing like you know when this happened and and, you know, my legal ears perked up, and I thought, Oh, come on. Come on Disney. Show us how being you really are. And right. You know that there, there was just no way that they were going to go after these filmmakers in this sort of tiny little film. And then, of course, it drew a lot of attention. Because it was shot. Great. tellement was shot at. I think they said, Florida. Yeah, just did a Disney World. Yeah, it was the Yeah, the world site. And, you know, and then it got, I think, some favorable reviews about comparisons to other big filmmakers and what they had done in the past. And I think gleaming there was a conversation about it, you know, at at the year shop in Burbank, I'm sure. I'm sure. Yes. And some smart attorney there said, this is not going to look good. So let it go. Let it go. And believe it or not, although Disney can be very litigious. They didn't and and you know, they issued a press release I think that said something like, we are aware of this film, you know, they had to put their yes seek on it. Yeah, and say yeah, we know it's there. And of course when you read that it's got in your mind, it's bold, and really mean font, right? You don't like scaring everyone else that's thinking of going to Disneyland to shoot a film without permission which they would never get. So that that straw got pulled and I think no one's ever gonna be able to pull that straw again. Yeah, that's
Alex Ferrari 41:45
I don't think anyone's shooting on Disney's property without them knowing about it I mean, you could try but I don't think that if it happens again they're gonna get they're gonna get killed.
Walter B. Batt 41:53
Yeah, they're not going to continue to lead let this happen. And you know, God knows it. Disney probably has infrared sensors when you're walking in to their theme parks you probably there's you know, there's nothing that they don't see. I remember
Alex Ferrari 42:06
a grad night I saw I'll never forget this if you if anyone listening there's something called grad night where all the seniors in high school get to go to Disneyland or Disney World and a friend of mine was in the haunted house with me 333 cars ahead of me and he talked one up and started smoking a little weed and the whole thing stopped a mysterious figure came in from the darkness grabbed him pulled him out the ride kept going were like all hot and it was just so brilliantly done you're just like no and he went to Mickey jail. And he literally sat in Mickey jail to the teacher had to come and get him in and I think our school was not invited back for a couple years
Walter B. Batt 42:50
and you know, you know that your lizard No, there really is a jail there right?
Alex Ferrari 42:54
No, there is there actually is a Mickey jail. Absolutely. There's a there's got bars. Oh, yeah, that they hold them there until the police come and get you. Oh, absolutely do not mess around with the mouse.
Walter B. Batt 43:06
I think when they when they open the door, it actually takes you through the gift shop before you leave. It doesn't matter where you go in Disneyland. You still get funneled through the gift shop. Okay,
Alex Ferrari 43:22
amazing. Amazing. No matter what, even in prison, I know you get it. But if you want to buy anything along the way to go to jail, I mean, we'll give you a discount.
Walter B. Batt 43:31
Really? You want a lollipop or some box of chocolate? Yeah. How
Alex Ferrari 43:35
about a Mickey ice cream? It'll be the last one you see for a while. Anyway. So um, can you talk a little bit about ianno? insurance? Because I know a lot of people always as far as filmmakers are concerned, they know what kind of like they need E and O insurance, which is called errors and omissions insurance? And do you need it all the time and like, especially if you're not going if you're going with a distribution company or self distributing in a way that it might not be needed?
Walter B. Batt 44:02
Well, that's that's your choice, it depends on and you should decide at the outset of principal photography, what your strategy is going to be to distribute your film your film, and if you're going to self distribute, then you're taking on all the risk and you're accessing distribution through your own efforts. And, you know, really, it's you and you're in the mirror, you know, talking you know, should I get you know, and then you answer No, I don't need you know, and there you go, let me just self distribute your film. On the other hand, if you're going to go to a distributor who is any reputable distributor that's going to go out with a film it's not going to take the risk that there was no you know, during the principal photography to take care of any virus, which is which is what it's for. And so you've got a film that you're delivering and they want to see the E and O policy and You see, I didn't get it, I didn't couldn't afford it. And they say good, cuz we're not distributing your film now.
Alex Ferrari 45:07
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But you can get it afterwards, you could obviously buy you know, insurance afterwards after it's like, Hey, I got a distribution deal. Hey, we needed you know, insurance. Okay, we'll go and get one. And then the end. Yeah, we'll look at it and go, Okay, well, now you got to get rid of that Apple logo. And then you're good,
Walter B. Batt 45:30
right? Well, there it is the issue, you can go get it after, it's harder to get after that, if you do it before. And, you know, basically, there's a risk there that you wouldn't have, if you just, you know, you decide, hey, we're going to go to our strategy is to distribute through a third party, then, generally speaking, your gut and Ed, you know, and you get the policy for the, you know, during the period that the film is being made, and with a tail on the end, so you can deliver it to a distributor and they and that box is checked.
Alex Ferrari 46:03
God Alright. So yeah, cuz I know a lot of filmmakers always asked me, Hey, do I need to, you know, insurance, I'm like, well, like, if you expect to sell to Netflix, or Hulu, for for an S. S VOD distribution deal, you're going to have to get one, they won't, they won't touch it. Without it, no matter how small no matter how if it's $1,000 movie, you won't be able to get a real distribution deal without No, now you could put it up on Amazon by yourself and take the risk, if there's any issues. But that's right, that's it's all about risk averse. I mean, if you made $1,000 movie, it's gonna cost it that's, you know, if not,
Walter B. Batt 46:41
we'll you know, and you know, a lot of times the deals that I do, anytime there's an investor that is, is coming in, generally, anyone with any sort of funds, that is, you know, they're concerned with, I won't even put $1 amount on, it could be $1,000, they're gonna say, there's a condition proceeded here to that investment, which basically is fancy talk for, you're not going to get my money until you show me any no policy.
Alex Ferrari 47:09
Right? You think I didn't know you can get any no policy prior to shooting,
Walter B. Batt 47:15
you can get a policy that has a start date, during your principal photography, and you can pay for that policy for a certain period of time, and then they'll read it for you. So that you can attach that during, you know, your efforts on getting distribution,
Alex Ferrari 47:32
and it's cheaper, and it's cheaper, generally, when you get you know, prior
Walter B. Batt 47:36
Well, it's easier to get because there's, it's proactively being done. So they're not worried about what it is you've already done. And like any insurance, they want to know that you know, all the elements of the film and the risk that they're taking, and then they rate it accordingly. So And generally, the budget is one of the indicators of that in terms of what the premium is
Alex Ferrari 48:03
when it wouldn't you know, insurance company even take a $5,000 movie or a $10,000 movie?
Walter B. Batt 48:09
I don't go. I don't know. Yeah, in today's world, probably it'd be tough to get our cost prohibitive. Generally, films like that aren't hiring me. So I got it. I don't get that direct involvement on Nino policy in that regard. But yeah, I would think you're probably right, Alex, it probably be a tough, tough road to get
Alex Ferrari 48:36
unless you haven't been unless you go to the mega Look, I have a deal for $100,000. from Netflix, I need any no insurance? Yes. Can you get me one, then the conversation changes? Sure. God, absolutely.
Walter B. Batt 48:47
So what relationship? Yes, exactly.
Alex Ferrari 48:49
Now that's when a lot of filmmakers you were talking about investors, a lot of filmmakers sometimes want to put together a prospectus or an investor or memorandum? I know that's a very large question on how to do that. But what basic advice can you give filmmakers who want to put together a perspective? What are the key things that they need to get just to be able to even get money from an investor besides your mom?
Walter B. Batt 49:14
Sure. Okay. Well, generally, I think what you're referring to is a private placement memorandum a pita. Yeah. Okay. And when you when you're talking about development of a ppm, you're right. It's a huge topic. But one of the main things to to really be aware of is that there are legal ramifications to what you put on every single page of that ppm. So even when it comes down to any sort of comparables that you're putting in, because you're obviously you're doing everything in this to create an impression that's based on facts that a person relies on in order to give you money. And if you put films in that show, say if you're doing a documentary, which are notoriously hard to make money in, and very low percentages of those that make it big. And so you're putting in these comparables for someone, and you have disclaimers in there, which are always important, which is, this is a risk risky investment, you may not get any of your money back. films of this nature are, are very difficult to generate a profit, only 8% of documentaries actually make a return of 5% or greater. So you those disclaimers are very important if you leave them out, and you put in comparables that lead that investor to believe that they're going to make money for sure. And you put in all the biggest return documentaries you can even think of with budgets that aren't really comparable, right? You're creating a huge risk for yourself.
Alex Ferrari 51:02
Got it. So in other words, if you're making an action movie, and you use the Fast and the Furious, or the as a reference, like they made a billion dollars, and I'm making a car action movie, so I should make a billion dollars, you should expect a billion dollars. That's a problem.
Walter B. Batt 51:15
That's a problem. And, and you know, not all investors are the same. So some are more sophisticated than others, and some aren't. But that ppm is for everybody. So if you don't have one for n, sophisticated investor and one for not sophisticated investor, you have one. So you need to make sure that you're covering the the the basis to make sure that everyone is on notice that it's a risky investment. Because all films are risky investments.
Alex Ferrari 51:46
Yes, they are. If you want to make money, the film industry, is there better places to invest? I would imagine.
Walter B. Batt 51:55
There are Alex, but you know, what's interesting is in the environment that we've been in where you know, you have a savings account in a bank, and you're getting a whopping point, oh, percent interest? Sure, sure. Right. Sure. Okay, well, people that have money are looking for some sort of decent return, which has a different definition, depending on what era were in. So when you're getting point, oh, 1% on your money in a bank account 3% in the stock market, and you can get 8% or 10% on a film, well, you might want to take that risk, because you're gonna get so much more of a return. But you also anytime there's a legitimate, higher return on an investment come to the Associated increase in risk. Of course,
Alex Ferrari 52:41
of course, and obviously making a movie for someone who's outside of the industry could be very exotic, very fun. You know, it I've heard a lot of filmmakers get money for movies just purely because the the investor just wanted to be part of the show. He wanted to be on the set every day just to kind of, you know, you know, have dinner with the actors and the actresses. It's kind of hobnob with Hollywood and that's what they wanted. And for that it was worth it. And if they made money, great if they didn't, it's a write off for them. And they're okay with that.
Walter B. Batt 53:10
Okay, so that's the best kind of investor person's name, send it over. Oh, she's exactly exactly the kind of person that you would want because as long as they're not crazy, they're not they're taking photos and then all of a sudden they're inviting themselves to the, to the actor's house. You know, there are some downsides to that.
Alex Ferrari 53:29
Don't forget the girlfriend, the girlfriend who needs to get the lead. Don't forget that.
Walter B. Batt 53:32
Oh, right. There always is a cost right? There. But from an investment perspective, somebody that's taking this risk and and you given them all the requisite notices, and they're great with it, then you remove that element that they're they're going to say, well you told me I was going to make X amount of money. And you say Yeah, well I have all these emails that said from you that it isn't the money I'm really interested in it's being able to be around these actors. And my girlfriend is going to get you know, the the lead female role. And we satisfied all those requirements so that you got what you wanted. And that would be very hard for someone to take a turn on you in terms of saying well hey, you didn't give me proper notice.
Alex Ferrari 54:19
Got it. Alright, so the Can you refer to copyright or trademark material in a script very much like the way clerks did when they were talking about Star Wars and you know, talking about trademark and copyright and things because I know a lot of people that sometimes are scared about even mentioning a logo or mentioning a company and I look about mentioning a company or or trademark thing, but I think in my layman's layman's view, it's okay correct?
Walter B. Batt 54:48
Yes. You know, you're free to speak about anything that you want as long as you don't defame a company. Okay, so you can say, Well, you know, How's that new Apple laptop you've got? And the person says, great, blah, blah, blah, that's fine. If you say, how's that crappy Apple laptop? You know all of them break within a month. And and the person said, Yeah, really? Man, mine only worked for two weeks. I did throw it in the trash. Yeah, okay. No, because you know that's not true. And there's no defense to that just like if you were to defame a person. And the words are what's important to you know, it's it their opinion, or their vague, you're fine. If you know if you're, if you're saying Apple is a fraud, and they steal everyone's money, that's not good. Not good. Not good. If you say Apple laptops are so expensive, Man, I wish I was rich and I could afford one. You're probably okay. I mean, cuz they're not cheap. So it's not that that's an opinion that's not defamatory statement. So that's really what it's about.
Alex Ferrari 55:59
And then even that even the opinion aspect and the defamatory statement can be a gray area because it could be my opinion that apples are crappy. That's right and then there's that gray area where now the lawyers get in and now they their The battle begins. So there is that because obviously I mean, look at talk radio in the news and stuff like that. I mean, Jesus. As far as defamation is concerned, it's pretty insane. And today's right,
Walter B. Batt 56:27
and that's a good example because that part of the example I gave or someone says they're crappy, that's that's an opinion. What is crappy me, it doesn't mean anything, it means something different to everybody. But when you say they don't last more than a month, and you have to throw them away,
Alex Ferrari 56:45
that's something really that's a very specific opinion that you need to prove that you need to prove
Walter B. Batt 56:51
or or you know, Apple could come back and say delete that because you're you're you're defaming our high tech reliable equipment that has an average of five years of a lifespan
Alex Ferrari 57:03
that more than that actually have I have some that lasts like almost eight years. It's insane. Yeah, I'm sorry. Sorry. Sorry. It's It's It's It's in the corner. I just turned it out occasionally. I have the latest gear. I got
Walter B. Batt 57:20
some money to get a new a No,
Alex Ferrari 57:21
no, I this is my that's my third computer. It's backup. Back off back off, Walter. Anyway.
Walter B. Batt 57:28
And they're fantastic. The best out there the
Alex Ferrari 57:30
best ever the best ever. Now windows, on the other hand, I'm joking. So um, so how do you? This is a really basic question, but and a lot of people don't know this answer. How do you copyright a script? Or a feature film once it's done? And do you need to?
Walter B. Batt 57:47
Okay, well, yes, you do. And, and it's a delivery item, basically. And it's quite simple. You can go to copyright.gov. And there's an E File option, which I think is some somewhere around 35 bucks right now, something like that. And you, you pick the the category of which your copywriting, so video, film, or screenplay, and you upload the document, or if it's too big to upload, you can send in a copy, and you file it with the copyright office, and it is processed somewhere around a year later. But it's retroactive to the date that you file. So you I'm sure you've seen copyright pending? Sure, sure. pending. Okay. That's because it's filed. And under copyright law, it's copy written from the moment of creation. So it's not the idea of the screenplay. It's the actual screenplay itself, the hard copy with letters on the paper that is copy written.
Alex Ferrari 59:01
It's hard, you can't you can't copyright an idea.
Walter B. Batt 59:04
Get copyright an idea. But you can Copyright The the proceeds of that idea. So basically, what the screenplay or the film wants to it's created, it is copywritten. To register, it gives you additional rights, and that are rights of cease and desist. Those are rights of damages. Those are the things that you proceed against someone that they steal your copyright or your trademark that that you get by filing, and it can be retroactively so you don't lose it. You lose that right just because you don't actually file it's just a process you have to go through what you should do proactively so that you have it. So you have the full weight of the but it's quite simple to now copyright and trademark
Alex Ferrari 59:58
now if you Alright, so Let's say yeah, with the script. It's always important. And I know a lot of people, a lot of screenwriters listening, they say, Oh, you have to just register with the W GA. And from my understanding and talking to other attorneys in the past. That's absolutely It's nice. But it doesn't mean anything. The only one that really matters is the copyright office in Washington, correct?
Walter B. Batt 1:00:17
That's correct. And just to be clear, that w ga registration is an evidentiary filing. So all the W ga registration does and I'm sure for many filmmakers, they've done it many, many times. You go to the judge ga west or east and walk into the to the office here in LA on Fairfax, and turn to the left, go in, there's an envelope, they stamp, you put the screenplay inside everyday filing, they seal it, they stamp it, you sign it, and that sealed envelope goes into the file later, if all of a sudden you see your screenplay, or you hear about something in production, that is exactly your idea, even the names of the characters insane. And you think, Oh my god, what the EFF is going on here. That filing that you made is evidentiary on the date and time that it was filed at the W ga if that what you're seeing being made has a date afterwards. There's a presumption that that was your original idea, because now you've shown that you filed it before the date that they filed their screenplay. And that's a piece of evidence you use to prove that perhaps someone stole your idea,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:37
but you could do that, but that same thing could be used from the copyright office.
Walter B. Batt 1:01:42
That's right. But the copyright itself is actually property. It has the Federal Way of statutory law. And it basically says, I own this and this is the government says this was mine and no one can take it and that is a right you can assert as as a as a cause of action in suing somebody and that you can claim Hey, this is copyright infringement, or this is trademark infringement. And the law is quite powerful in putting the burden on someone to show that in fact they own a property that otherwise you have the rights to under federal law.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:26
So if you
Walter B. Batt 1:02:29
Yeah, and there's also state you can file state trademarks as well so most people don't know that under common law rights within each state but it's the federal law is the one with the weight. Now we're going to draw copyright and trademark
Alex Ferrari 1:02:43
so if you make a feature film an indie film, and again we made it for 50 grant and my and my dad gave me the money and we've made it and we've now uploaded it to Amazon and are making money from it. But we have not copyrighted the final movie is it it can someone just take it and just put it start making DVDs and selling it somewhere
Walter B. Batt 1:03:04
No, that's illegal okay but but but in order to sue them in federal court you're gonna need a registration to do it and you can do it retroactively you can say oh my god my film is been hijacked by and pirated you know it's all over the web. And it happens so often now and very hard to combat because you know, it's hard to even find who the people are but you have a right with a registered copyright to to actually assert your copyrights
Alex Ferrari 1:03:40
and that's also the limit is that a deliverable to that like a Netflix would ask for?
Walter B. Batt 1:03:44
Yes, absolutely. Got it you need a copyright filing and if there's any sort of trademark that you're using or creating you need that filing and those are deliverables but at the same time like I said, you can you own it the film is yours somebody can't just take it and say oh there's no copy of that they're wrong. They can't do that. So
Alex Ferrari 1:04:11
what happened with this a wonderful life what happened with him The Night of the Living Dead like I can take Night of the Living Dead right now and start selling DVDs of it why
Walter B. Batt 1:04:23
well you know it's a it's not such a wonderful life after many years go by you know, in the end, you got a certain amount of time to protect yourself and that's it. Okay, so
Alex Ferrari 1:04:35
there is a time limit to this so if after 30 years you have not created a copyright official copyright for it, then someone could come along and take it and start selling it as as their own property.
Walter B. Batt 1:04:47
Well, no trademark a lifespan
Alex Ferrari 1:04:51
right but but like a FOMO what happened specifically like with night living dead and and it's a wonderful life those two movies were at something happened with the registration were became In public domain all of a sudden, I know with one wonderful back out, but but living dead I know still open a public domain.
Walter B. Batt 1:05:06
Yeah, the there are special circumstances in depends on the filing sort of like the Happy Birthday situation where Yes, you know, it was copy written in the transfer the copyright was found to be invalid. And so now we can happily sing Happy Birthday all over the place without having to, you know, oh, we
Alex Ferrari 1:05:28
can't? Is that something we could do now?
Walter B. Batt 1:05:32
Yes, don't sing happy birthday to me. Yes, you know, there, there are faults within the filings that can actually cause a copyright to be declared invalid. And so there are circumstances like that. But copyright is a property. So it's like a house. And so once you have it, something copy written, it's yours. And those are things you can protect as long as you you have proper chain of title. Got it?
Alex Ferrari 1:06:03
Now, last question. Before I ask you my final questions, I always ask all my all my guests, what is a good illegal resource out there that filmmakers can kind of go in touch in besides obviously, talking and consulting with an attorney?
Walter B. Batt 1:06:20
You know, there are some really good forums out there online filmmaker forums that people can go to, and you know, I, there, there there, I don't want to plug anyone in particular, but there are ones where attorneys actually participate. And you can post a question, and then attorneys will respond. And they'll tell you, you know, a basic answer to your question. So from the legal perspective, there's ways to get access to attorneys that want business, and they're actually looking to get people to retain them. So they participate in those kinds of online forums, there's also filmmaker websites, where they will give you sort of the primmer of how to do something, and there's quite a few of them out there, and they're not bad, you know, on the basics, they'll sort of walk you through what you need to do, or how you do a filing. And then the different guilds, if somebody is part of a guild, there are certainly resources within the guilds to help you as well. Or if you have a friend who's in the Guild, they have resources that you might be able to access to, to sort of help you guide you through the process.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:38
And what advice would you give a filmmaker just starting out,
Walter B. Batt 1:07:46
go with your passion, believe in what you're doing. Don't take no for an answer. Don't give up and make it happen. And, you know, those, those people, when they really have that passion and drive, I really think that spirit that someone has it in them to make their dream come true, will won't give them a better than fighting chance than someone who's doing this. Not for the passion. But other reasons where they're not really ignited inside this business is tough, it can beat you down quickly. And if you don't have that passion, people can read it, they can hear it in your voice, they can see it in your eyes. And that this might not be the avenue for you to make a film. But if you got it, people feel it and they want those kinds of people and, and I know that when I see them too. And I always say the same thing. I might have said this to you before Alex, someone that would come into my office and tell me what they're gonna do is a lot different than someone that comes in my office and tells me what they've done and, and how they're proceeding. And, you know, they've got this screenplay, and they've gone through five different versions of the screenplay, and they're on the blue copy now. And they've got a first ad and they've attached to an actor, and you're super impressed with their diligence. And now they're ready to move into an area where they want someone to help guide them like me. Those people I can see the passion, I can see their commitment, and then you want to be a part of that. And that I think brings success to people.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:27
That's a great answer, by the way. Very, very good answer. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life
Walter B. Batt 1:09:40
I'm humbly reminded every day that I know nothing? And I'll tell you the reason I say that slightly tongue in cheek but the truth is there everything and what I do is gray, and young attorneys. I always smile when I hear an attorney He or she will tell me no, that's not how it is. No, you can't do that. Yes, this is how you get it done, you know with this addiction, right, sir, not passion. That's naivete. Yes, the truth is, you know, it's not about the same answer every time you need to listen more than you talk. And it took me a while to realize that I didn't need to sound smart. I just needed to be smart. And so I don't need to have the quick answer. I can say to someone, I don't know. Or I've not. I don't know the holding in that case, or that's okay. Because I can't know everything. And and I'm kind of at peace. Now in my old age, where I realized that I know what I'm doing. I don't prove it to anybody. I do it because I love it because I have a passion. And I learned that it's okay to say, I don't know. And that was a hard lesson. For me.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:57
It's a very hard, I'll tell you what, it's something that as a director, it took me years to learn, because as a director, everyone comes to you. And you're expected to know everything. And if you don't know everything, or don't know the answer to the question, sometimes it's perceived, like you don't know what you're doing. But it takes a stronger person to go, I don't know, man, let's figure it out. You know, or give me a second, I'll figure it out like that take, but you have to be at a special place in your life. To be that confident within yourself. And a lot of filmmakers, especially first timers are not. And you it's funny when you were talking about the young attorneys, who, who you kind of gig a lot, I deal with filmmakers all the time. I have conversations with young filmmakers who think Well, you can't do that or have to do that. And it's just it's kind of like the old dog who's been around the yard a bit like Yeah, no, might not be that it's booksmart versus street smarts.
Walter B. Batt 1:11:49
That's right. That's right. And you know, one of the things you just said Alex was so important, you know, when someone comes to you, and you say, Hey, I don't know, we need to figure that out. What you just done is, and someone who's got the right motives. They're going to be a sort of, you're eliciting their support. They're basically saying, oh, okay, well, how can I help or let's figure this out together. Now the person is part of the solution. And it makes that person feel valued part of the process, and someone with good intentions, that's a win for both of you.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:28
And it's a great tactic, if you will to use on a set is to bring somebody in to help you because that way they're invested in the in the in the solution, as opposed to you just barking out orders all the time as a director.
Walter B. Batt 1:12:39
Yeah. And you know, I would also say this, there are times when someone will say something to me and I, and I'm pretty sure I know the answer. But I have a little part of me that thinks, well, maybe that changed in the last month, because I haven't looked at x y&z law or whatever. I will say to someone, well, this is what I think you're the answer to your question is, but to be honest, I haven't checked out in about a month. So we need to check into that. And then the person will say, Well, how can I do that? And I tell them, well, you go here, and they say, Great, can I go look and I go? Sure, but you got to tell me what you find. So I can make sure you're looking at the right thing. Now, I've saved the money because I've told them how to fix their problem or to research it. And I'm part of the solution with them. So by me not telling them how it is, even though I'm not absolutely 100% certain, I've actually elicited a partner that's going to work with me in a way that makes us a team and people want to be part of a team with good intentions. And that always is a plus.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:42
Excellent answer. Excellent answer. And then Name three of your favorite films of all time.
Walter B. Batt 1:13:50
Three of my favorite films, okay. Gone with the Wind reach over Madison County.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:00
No Wow. Okay, that's a good flick. Yes.
Walter B. Batt 1:14:03
Yeah, that one was a very good one for me. Everyone loved that film, but I did okay. And I'm a third one I would say
Alex Ferrari 1:14:16
trans morphers obviously but other than trans
Walter B. Batt 1:14:19
there's so many that I love and I want to make sure
Alex Ferrari 1:14:24
it's okay we won't hold you We won't hold you in a court of law to this Don't worry.
Walter B. Batt 1:14:29
You know, can I reserve my third one so next time I'm on out get that secret out that's
Alex Ferrari 1:14:34
not a problem at all. No problem at all. And Walter where can people find you if they're interested if if you're even taking on new clients but if they're interested in contacting you
Walter B. Batt 1:14:44
Well, you know, I don't take a lot of new clients on now but I'm certainly happy to to receive a question or engage in a conversation with someone I can. I can be found. Probably best by my email. It's Walter dot bat. gmail.com Okay, and I'm happy to answer questions by email. And I have a website, la entertainment, law, calm, sorely in need of updating. The best way would be to reach me by
Alex Ferrari 1:15:17
email. Walter, thank you so much for your time. I really, really appreciate it. You have dropped some major knowledge bombs on the indie film hustle tribe, and I think we're all better filmmakers and at least smarter and more mitigated filmmakers than we
Walter B. Batt 1:15:31
were before. I I'm successful term mitigation.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:37
Thank you. While they're appreciate it,
Walter B. Batt 1:15:38
My job is done. Welcome, Alex. Thank you for having me.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:43
Well, I hope you guys are not freaking out too much. If you've already made a movie and didn't get legal advice. You're like, Oh my god, do I have the contracts to be able to sell this movie? Oh my God, oh, my god, oh my god. Don't worry, you can always contact an attorney and hopefully a good attorney, to to help you got to help you out in the deliverables process of getting your movie out. But if you're about to start a movie, I hope this episode helped you out at least getting you started down the path of thinking about contracts, thinking about, you know, insurance, thinking about logos and things that you might want to do in your movie, and making sure you're covered and making sure that you don't get sued later on down the line. And just like we said in the episode, risk mitigation to try to mitigate as much risk and exposure to you, as the filmmaker, as a producer, as the company that is creating your film. And I leave all of Walter's contact information on our show notes at indie film, hustle, calm forward slash 158. And guys, if you'd like this episode, or fan of the show, please do me a big solid and head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us an honest review. Hopefully a good one. But it really helps us out a lot and helps get the word out on what we're trying to do at indie film hustle. Now I don't know if you guys have noticed or not but I haven't been able I haven't been producing as much content as I usually have been doing is because I am neck deep in this doing post production on the show that I just shot for Legendary Pictures digital, called the space program and I am going a little nuts. But fear not my friends because I am because you know who I am I I can't stand still I'm always thinking about what's next. I got a lot of stuff cooking for indie film, hustle. And in the future of indie film hustle and what I'm going to be doing with it, how I'll be creating new resources for you guys to help you on your journey. And I am planning on shooting a feature film before the years out. I do have a good idea of what that film is. And believe it or not, I will not be shooting it on my Ursa mini my Blackmagic Ursa mini or my Blackmagic 2.5 the same camera shot Meg with I'm shooting with a new camera. And you'll be surprised at that camera choice when when I release all that information as I continue to develop it and I get almost on a daily basis some sort of email message tweet about Hey guy. Hey, Alex, where's Meg? When are we going to see Meg? We want to see this film you worked on last year. And I've got good news. I don't have an actual release date just yet. But I'm planning to release the film sometime in the summer on iTunes. So we're going to release on iTunes first, and then hopefully we're going to see what other kind of deals we can get. Right now can Meg is at Cannes at the Cannes Film Festival selling to international buyers and I will I will tell you guys all about that process as we continue to go forward and you'll add people like how did you get an international buyer Alex? I'm like well, I'll let you guys know as as things continue to wrap up with Meg I will let you guys know what's going on but this summer hopefully I will be releasing it on iTunes so you guys will all finally get to see this is mag and see what kind of craziness I got into last year. So there's a lot of fun stuff coming down man I really am just can't wait to let you guys know about what I've been cooking because I've been working on some some fun stuff and hopefully it will help you guys on your journey as filmmakers as well. So as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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