Filmmaking has its challenges, but producing a film based on a true story can be even more challenging. It requires planning, research and a close working relationship with your legal counsel and insurance broker. In many cases true story films highlight a difficult life event and people are not always positively portrayed. Even if the story overall has a positive message, family and friends of the main character may object to how the story is told, and lawsuits can follow.
Errors & Omissions (E&O), is a form of liability insurance, that can protect you from suits alleging libel, slander, copyright/trademark infringement and breach of implied contract. E&O insurance is a must for any film, but it’s even more crucial with a true story.
Common Myths About Insurance: a True Story Project
I don’t need to worry about E&O until I have a distribution deal. Oftentimes, filmmakers only think about this type of insurance after the film is “in the can” and they are seeking distribution. For a true story, E&O insurance should be considered up front, at the same time you are seeking production insurance. For a really big story, you might even consider buying the coverage while still in pre-production. Treatments of true stories require considerable due diligence in as many true story films highlight a difficult life event and people involved. The minute a project starts moving forward, it can attract press, and that press, good or bad, can lead to people coming out of the woodwork with objections.
My story has a positive message, I have nothing to worry about. Even if the story overall has a positive message, family and friends of the main character may object to how the story is told, and lawsuits can follow. If the film is highly anticipated or has strong buzz, the likelihood of someone finding a reason to sue rises as well. Nothing brings out the worst in people than the possibility of financial gain.
My project is protected by “fair use.” Copyright law states specific factors that define fair use and if those factors apply to a new work, then it does not constitute an infringement of copyright. The doctrine is often misunderstood and if ill-applied, can create problems for a production. An attorney well-versed in film is the only person you should trust to advise you on matters of fair use.
I don’t need to respond to frivolous claims. Even false, groundless and frivolous claims must be addressed, and it can be surprisingly expensive to make such claims go away. Assuming the allegation is covered by the policy, the E&O insurance covers the cost of defense and save you from dipping into your pocket.
A HUB Entertainment Broker will work with you and your production aspirations to:
- Ensure that any outstanding permissions are obtained before the film is released
- Ensure the level of coverage is sufficient for the risk presented
- Liaise effectively between your production team, legal counsel and insurer if and when claims are made
Today, E&O insurance is seen by the entertainment industry as one of the many costs of doing business. The right broker can help keep a production from failing.
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