Monthly Archives: December 2010

What is “Chain Of Title”?

Chain of title is a trail of documents which illustrates the change/transfer of ownership of a piece or property from the moment it was created to the current point in time where you claim to own the rights to the property. Having an improper chain of title means that you have no clear certainty/proof of your ownership of a project. If indeed you do not own the rights to your project, you are not legally allowed to produce and distribute the film. Chain of title is paramount to making your film.


What is an “Ultimates Model”?

An ultimates model is a financial model used to determine the value of a film. This is usually established by the distributor of the film and is based on all revenue streams generated by the film including domestic theatrical box, DVD, network TV, pay TV, cable TV, and other ancillary markets within a 10 year period. The domestic theatrical box office is the main driver behind the ultimates valuation. Ultimates serve three main purposes. One is to determine the anticipated value of a film in order to attain financing from a lender. This ultimates value will allow the lender to derive an appropriate amount to lend to the filmmaker. Another purpose is determining the price for post-release sales. This could be to foreign TV, pay TV or any other ancillary markets. When determining the price to sell a film to another distributor after the film has been released, the price will be based off the ultimates value of the film. This is usually derived from domestic theatrical box office revenue. The third purpose is collateral for lending. In other words, if you were borrowing money from a lender, the lender could lend against your library and the value of your library the ultimates model is applied to each of the films in that particular library.

Sources for Character Motivation

You hear it all the time: “What’s your character’s motivation?” It’s one of the major questions that go through a writer’s head every time he/she is trying to crack a story. I had the opportunity to sit down with an established writer and I asked her convey process when it comes to character motivation. To my pleasant surprise, she broke it down very simply for me.

A character should be motivated by “need” not “want”. Usually characters that are motivated by simple pleasure, or “want” don’t make up very strong characters and, as a result, don’t provide a great story. There are four reasons for a person to “need” to do something: FEAR, MONEY, LOVE, & BELIEF. I know that it makes for a lot of cliche story-telling, but these are the sources of motivation that most audiences can relate to. When you can pull your audience with relate-able motivations, you can convey a much  more compelling story.

Is it illegal to show trademarked or branded items in a film without getting permission?

NO!!! A lot of film makers endure a lot of unnecessary  anxiety/stress attacks over showing trademarked logos, and branded items in their films. The law permits you to use branded items so long as the item is available to the general public for purchase, and that the item is being used for its intended function. So feel free to have your actors type on Apple computers, and drink from Pepsi soda cans. Beware, however, of WORKS OF ART! Just as you need to get clearance for music in your films, you must get clearance from the original artist before you can show their work of art in your film. Normally, this does not include buildings, however, there a few exceptions like the Eiffel Tower, and the Guggenheim Museum. So make sure you do your legal homework on everything that appears in your film.

Why is a log line important?

A log line will serve different, though equally important, purposes depending on what role you are playing in the creative process. For a producer, a log line is the crucial first line of defense when it comes to selling a project. It’s what initially grasps the attention of the buyer. Many times, especially if you are not an established producer/director, a studio will want the log line and synopsis of your project before they will take a pitch from you. You must be able to convey what your story is about in one concise sentence. If you are unable to do this, your project is probably not very good, or you need to further develop your story.

If you are a writer, a log line is crucial for keeping you focused on your story during the writing process. Many times, writers will become too engrossed in dialogue or character, that they will lose sight on what the story is.

What is a “logline”?

A log line is one or two sentences that describe what your movie or TV show is about. The best log lines not only convey the story, but they also convey setting and character.


Romeo and Juliet: In medieval Italy, a young man falls in love with the daughter of a sworn enemy. The two lovers elope with tragic consequences.

Jurassic Park: A team of researchers and a family struggle to escape and island park filled with genetically restored dinosaurs.

What is “playability”?

Playability is a term used in film-marketing that describes the ability to appeal to an audience over a long period of time. In other words, it describes how good your film is…how good the story is…how good the acting is etc. A film’s playability is ultimately responsible it’s sustainability and longevity over time.