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Toronto 2012: The Film Collaborative Launches Legal Services Initiative

Law firm of Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson is spearheading the program, availing itself for a flat fee rather than billing by the hour.

The Film Collaborative is launching a legal services initiative.

Dubbed TFC Legal, the initiative will offer business affairs and legal contract expertise to filmmakers looking to hammer out distribution deals.

The Los Angeles- and New York-based law firm of Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson is spearheading the program for TFC Legal, which will offer legal services for a flat fee rather than billing by the hour.

“The key to this initiative is that it is only focused on distribution agreements, our specialty and the focus of our mission,” said Orly Ravid, founder and co-executive director of the nonprofit. “This new service pairs our expertise in distribution, particularly digital distribution, with AGMB’s extensive experience in entertainment law, in order to achieve the best results for TFC clients.”

Ravid stressed that because digital distribution has become the new paradigm, filmmakers need to be aware of all their rights as well as new licensing issues.

“Rather than filmmakers signing distribution agreements where the terms are not clearly defined, which can be the case with digital rights in particular, TFC Legal will advise on exactly which rights are being granted to the distributor and for which platforms, without taking control of the filmmaker/content creator’s rights, as traditional sales agencies do,” said Sheri Candler, director of digital marketing strategy. “This allows us to put the filmmaker’s interests first and allows them to work with us instead of being locked into a sales agency agreement.”

Since TFC’s inception in 2010, it has offered resources and services to independent filmmakers, including film festival distribution, marketing and publicity strategy and implementation, theatrical releasing, digital distribution aggregation and foreign sales negotiation. The nonprofit has provided its services for more than 150 independent films, including Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War, Andrew Haigh’s Weekend and Musa Sayeed’s Valley of Saints.