The entertainment industry is a fast-paced field, one where deals are often made quickly and may not always be as legally binding as they appear. For example, the deal memo is a common early type of agreement that is often thrown out in courts or disputed when a more formal contract is created. Understanding this type of memo is important for knowing ways an entertainment lawyer like John Branca can help you. From his extensive experience in entertainment law to his speaking engagements at Harvard, getting to know how John Branca navigates the complex legal landscape and deal memos in the entertainment world is fascinating.
Deal Memos: A Complex Legal Issue
In the entertainment industry, the concept of the “deal memo” is a very common situation. You may run into this type of “contract” when you’re at a dinner with your agent and someone who wants to hire you. They write down what they want from you and set out your terms and their terms on a small sheet of paper. It may be as small as a cocktail napkin if you’re in the right situation like a dinner meeting.
The deal memos are also called term sheets and letters of intent and cannot be considered a long-form binding contract. They are usually poorly thought out and rarely go through every element that is important for your contract. And often they are not binding because they are not properly notarized or produced in a proper manner. They can create a lot of conflicts that someone like John Branca and other legal authorities can help manage.
Why an Entertainment Attorney is Important
Entertainment lawyers like John Branca are trained to handle contract disputes and can help individuals suffering from the plague of the deal memo. They can take a look at the memo, look through the terms that it sets up, and help an individual understand whether it is binding. Many trained attorneys have had to deal with these memos before and know how to sort through their inherent confusion.
Just as importantly, these professionals can get a deal memo thrown out of court if it is not legally binding and focus on a better contract for someone in the entertainment industry. For example, if a deal memo states profit-sharing terms for a film role that is less profitable than a written contract, focusing on getting the deal memo thrown out is critical for preventing serious financial loss. That’s why an entertainment attorney is such an important investment for anyone in this business.