Insurance and Liability

Realism in film has become a global phenomenon. We have developed an insatiable need for movies and television shows based on "True Crime". While this is great for filmmakers because the costs for this type of film are far less then purchasing book rights or a screenplay, it does come at a great expense to the crime victim and his/her family. The crime victims and their families can never erase their trauma and must live with their experiences forever. As a filmmaker, you must "walk in the shoes" of the crime victims and never forget how a film on a "BIG or small" screen can re-traumatize a victim by depictions of their personal tragedy. It is our suggestion that Filmmakers make every effort to maintain open and honest communications with crime victims and their family members about how you plan on retelling their stories.

That being said there are other aspects a filmmaker must be cognizant of when filming "True Crime" stories, one of which is Errors & Omissions coverage. Errors & Omissions coverage will protect and defend a filmmaker from lawsuits that encompass libel, slander, and invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, plagiarism, piracy and misappropriation of ideas. Sounds great! How do I get this coverage? For starters, the insurance company will require that you do some due diligence such as consult an entertainment attorney and follow clearance procedures. This means you will need to secure a script research report, obtain releases from crime victims, their families, and identifiable individuals. This process should coincide with the completion of an Errors & Omissions application and should end with the delivery of an insurance certificate to your motion picture and television/cable distributor. For your reference, we have provided clearance and insurance materials for your use.

Let's face it. Filmmaking does not just entail good directing and good acting but ultimately a good story and good business practices. This of course makes Filmmaking a lot of hard and arduous work, but in the end it is worth it because your film has the potential to impact and influence an unlimited audience.

Winnie Wong, DeWitt Stern Group, Los Angeles, CA
wwong@dewittstern.com

 

Articles and Resources
  Clearance Procedures
  Docudramas
  The Special Problems of Docudramas: No Shortcuts in the Clearance Process
  Errors and Omissions to the Rescue [PDF Format]
  Protecting Yourself in a Litigious Society