Funder and filmmaker should discuss a budget that includes all phases of production, what the funder is covering, where there is flexibility and what additional costs may arise. Especially for the more engaged funder-filmmaker relationship, timelines are an important topic of discussion and should cover all phases of the film being considered for funding, as well as contingency plans.

Questions of copyright and licensing—who owns the film and who has the license to use it for what purpose—are often overlooked because each party assumes they know the answers. But these are essential topics of discussion.  Reporting and evaluation can help both parties stay on task, identify other resources needed to successfully complete the film and assess what makes social-issue films effective.

Questions to consider on the business and legal end:

  • What is the ideal timeline for production of the film, and what is the expected timeline?
  • What contingencies can you anticipate, and what is each party’s alternate timeline?
  • What is the overall budget, and what part of the budget is being covered by the funder at hand? Who are the other funders, and what are their expectations and requirements?
  • Is the filmmaker allowed to shift around some or all of the funding from one part of the budget to another?
  • Who owns the copyright to which versions of the film if there is more than one version? Who owns the raw or unused footage?
  • Who has license to create what versions or “derivative works” of the film?
  • Who has the license to sell copies of the film, on what platform and for how long?
  • What is the purpose of reporting and evaluation on this project?
  • How will impact be measured, and what specific data is the filmmaker to collect for evaluation?


Also in this section of the complete Prenups guide:



Photo credit: Members of the Namati team, the Skoll Foundation, and the Sundance Institute at the Stories of Change Lab.  © 2016 Sundance Institute | Photo by Brandon Cruz.