BULLET-PROOF Crew Deal Memo Template

Free Download for Producers

A film crew deal memo is a type of contract that film crew members sign before a shoot. This memo highlights the terms and conditions of the work agreement, including day rate, overtime pay, and meal provisions. A production crew deal memo is also legally binding, so it’s important to get it right.

Let’s break down what to expect in a deal memo and what to include when creating one. We’ll even provide a free template download!

Key Takeaways

📝 Protect Yourself: A crew deal memo ensures that you are legally protected in case of any financial or legal disputes. It also ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and what to expect during production.

⚖️ Consult with a Lawyer: Hiring an entertainment lawyer to create the deal memo template ensures that the document is legally binding and enforceable in court.

👀 Key clauses to look out for: When reading a deal memo template, pay close attention to the rate, meal provision, and kill fee sections. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are confused about the language and terms.

Download Deal Memo Template

What is a Film Crew Deal Memo?

The film crew deal memo is a document that lists the terms and conditions between a crew member and a production company. It ensures that both parties agree to set terms before production begins.

The document will include details on day rates, travel pay, meal provisions, and expenses. It will also outline marketing, confidentiality, and screen credit terms. The goal is to ensure that everyone agrees on what to expect from the production and after the film’s release.

A crew deal memo is the same as a contract in many ways. The main difference is that a contract is more formal, and sometimes, deal memos are not legally binding. If you are unsure if it is legally binding, you can ask your producer before signing one. If you are a producer creating a deal memo, we recommend that you seek the advice of an entertainment lawyer.

Two film producers seated at a desk, reviewing and signing crew deal memos

Crew Deal Memo Template Breakdown


1. General Information

At the top of the film crew deal memo is a section for general information. This lists the production company name, project title, and the shooting start date and end date. It might also include the worker’s contact information (name, phone number, and email) and social security number.

2. Services

This next section typically has a paragraph with a general overview of service requirements. It outlines the worker’s general responsibilities and that they agree to work to their best ability on your project between the start and end date. It’s important that this section correctly labels the crew member’s job title

3. Rates and Payment Terms

A critical section of the document describes the payment terms. This is a clear breakdown of how the production company intends to pay the worker. This includes their day rate and payment schedule (weekly, monthly, etc.). The rates will also abide by union rules if you are working on a union production. In addition, the payment rates for any travel days are also listed here.

4. Food and Provisions

Most film productions provide their crew with free meals. Therefore, it’s common to list what meals are provided per workday (for example, three meals per day). The production company will also mention if they provide meals on travel days. If you have set times for meals and breaks each day, you can also mention it in this section.

 

Three film crew members working on set, focused on a camera monitor

5. Equipment Rental

It’s typical for some crew members to rent out their equipment during production. For example, if the DOP brings their own camera to set or the sound equipment belongs to the sound recordist. This section outlines the compensation for using this equipment (aka kit rental fee) and what type of insurance the production company provides.

6. Expenses and Purchases

It is also possible that crew members will need to buy specific filmmaking equipment for your production. Here, you will explain what type of equipment purchases and incidentals are covered. This will ensure you don’t get any surprise purchases on an invoice.

7. Transportation

If a crew member drives for more than one hour to set, it’s typical to provide a gas reimbursement. Producers are also expected to provide a gas reimbursement if a crew member uses their vehicle during work. For example, if a PA drives actors to set and uses their car during the workday.

In addition, some productions will need to transport crew to a new state or country. The crew deal memo will list what is covered during travel days. Typically, in this instance, the production will cover transportation, meals, and accommodation.

8. Screen Credit

It’s best to let your cast and crew know their screen credit title and that it can change before production. In addition, you should let people know if their credit will come during the opening or ending crawl credits. This is especially true for actors and your above-the-line crew. If you don’t specify what credits someone will receive, this can result in later arguments.

9. Availability

In this section, the production company will outline what days and times a crew member will work. Typically, the workday will start at the call time listed for that crew member on the daily call sheet and end when the film director calls “wrap” for the day. This section can also list overtime payment terms (if not already mentioned) and if the worker has asked for specific days off before production.

10. Termination

This section is one of the most essential parts of the film production crew deal memo. It lets the worker know their employment is temporary and a freelance work-for-hire situation. In addition, the production company states the amount of notice they will provide in the event of termination. Here, you can define reasons for termination, such as the use of drugs and alcohol on set.

It’s also important that the production company and the worker understand that the contract can terminate at any time. Therefore, it is considered best practice to include a “kill fee,” a payment sent out to the worker if a project is shut down sooner than expected.

 

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11. Confidentiality and Rights

This ensures that crew members do not share details of the project with the general public. Many productions also require the crew to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). These agreements also include not sharing photos of the set on social media or discussing the project online.

12. Publicity

It’s also possible that behind-the-scenes videos and photographs may include members of your crew. This section allows the production company full disclosure to use the crew and cast members’ voice, image, or likeness. In addition, it’s good to get specific with what types of media their image might appear within, e.g., blogs, news broadcasts, trailers, videos, and books.

13. No Obligation

Also known as “no obligation to appear,” this is another important clause in the production crew deal memo. It highlights how the production company is not required to use the worker’s services. For example, if a film composer’s score does not make it to the final cut. By signing this memo, you are agreeing that the production company will have full say on what is included in the edit.

(note: it’s also important to include a no-obligation clause in the talent release agreement you use for cast members)

14. Arbitration

The arbitration clause is a must! In case of a legal dispute, this clause lets both parties know how events move forward. This section will also outline what location ‘state’ law is responsible for legal matters. Because you will need to use the correct language, we recommend seeking advice from an entertainment lawyer.

15. Entire Agreement

Lastly, a production crew deal memo will include the entire agreement’s final statement. This means both parties agree upon everything listed in the document. Therefore, by signing the document, you agree to have read and understood everything in the document.

A film crew on set, featuring a female crew member monitoring the camera setup alongside a male colleague.

Why Do I Need a Deal Memo?

The production crew deal memo protects the production company from possible lawsuits, arguments, and misunderstandings. The goal of this process is to everyone is on the same page before work commences. Even independent low-budget films should do their best to provide everyone working on the film with a deal memo.

Who Creates the Crew Deal Memo?

The production company creates and distributes the deal memo. The documents have to be signed by the individual crew member and an authorized representative, typically the producer or unit production manager. It’s in the project’s best interest that everyone reads, understands, and signs the document before production occurs.

Should I Send the Deal Memo via Email?

You can send physical copies of the memo, but in the digital age, producers typically send this document via email as a PDF doc. This gives potential hires a chance to properly examine the document before agreeing to terms. You also have the option to use third-party services such as DocuSign or Docsend to streamline this process.

Can I Use a Template Found on Google?

You can easily find a free deal memo template online, or follow our breakdown above to create your own. However, it is vital to keep in mind that a free deal memo template is not legally binding. You must review every section to ensure it applies to your production and abides by local, state, and laws. This is why we recommend that you hire an experienced entertainment lawyer to create and amend all legal paperwork.

Make Sure To Comply With Union Guidelines

Another factor is whether or not you are making a union film. Some unions and guilds require members to use their own production crew deal memos. Also, keep in mind that unions assert rules on day rates, meal provisions, and expenses. There is a lot to keep track of when it comes to union payroll, and it can be overwhelming. So, if this is your first time creating a deal memo template, hire someone who has previous experience working with union guidelines.

Here is a quick reference list of popular Film Unions and Guilds with deal memos:

 close-up of a signatory section of a film crew deal demo contract

Signing a Crew Deal Memo

Before signing any contract, you should read through each section and understand what you are agreeing to. The production company should provide a deal memo long before production begins. This way, every team member has time to read and amend the deal memo if necessary. Occasionally, independent films will expect the crew to sign the contract on the day of filming. If this happens, know your rights, take the time to read through it, and ask questions.

Here are some details to watch out for when reading through the crew deal memo.

Day Rate and Overtime Pay

If you are in a union production, your union will protect you by providing deal memos and negotiating terms on your behalf. Problems with deal memos and contracts tend to occur on non-union independent productions. The main thing to look out for is your day rate and overtime pay. Understand when and how you are going to receive payment for your work. It’s also common for films to go overtime, so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

Meal Provisions

Another section to look out for is meal provisions. Productions are expected to feed their crew, so make sure you are provided with catering, especially on a low-budget film. If you rent out equipment for the production, make sure you have a kit rental fee. In addition, you should not lose money when working on a production. Ensure you are reimbursed for all travel to the location and fuel costs.

Termination or Kill Fee

Lastly, what happens if the production terminates and you lose out on work? It’s unfair that you saved time in your calendar and turned down other work only for production to cease. The production crew deal memo will let you know if you will receive some payment if a project fails to go ahead.

 

Here’s a list of what to look out for when signing crew deal memos:

  • Work rates and overtime payment
  • Meal provisions and catering
  • Equipment rental and insurance
  • Travel and fuel reimbursement
  • Termination and “kill fee” agreements

Conclusion

A good production crew deal memo mutually protects the rights of both the film production company and the crew. Make sure that you read through your deal memo carefully before signing it. Take your time to understand each section, ask questions, and seek legal advice if you have any concerns.

If you are a production company, ensure to include all the sections we list above. It might seem easier to download a free deal memo template online, but these are not legally binding. Therefore, we also recommend that you invest in an entertainment lawyer.

Download Deal Memo Template

Frequently Asked Questions


Who provides the crew deal memo?

The producer or production company is responsible for creating and distributing the deal memo template.

Is a deal memo enforceable?

A deal memo can be enforceable, but it lacks the formality of a contract. Clarify with the producer if the memo is legally binding and consult an entertainment lawyer to ensure that it meets the necessary legal standards.

Why include a confidentiality clause?

Including a confidentiality clause ensures that crew members do not disclose project details to the public. It helps protect the production’s sensitive information and prevents crew members from sharing photos or discussing the project online.

What general information should I include?

A comprehensive deal memo template should include general information such as the production company’s name, project title, shooting dates, crew member’s name, and contact information.

Do I need to use different templates for different unions?

Yes, different unions have specific requirements regarding rules on day rates, meal provisions, and expenses. To ensure the production meets the relevant union’s standards, it is essential to use a deal memo template that complies with their guidelines.

Do I need a lawyer to create a deal memo template?

While not strictly necessary, it is highly recommended to consult an entertainment lawyer when creating a deal memo template. A lawyer can ensure that the document is legally sound, comprehensive, and compliant with relevant laws and regulations.

What happens if I don’t have a deal’ memo?

Without a deal memo, there is a higher risk of disputes and potential lawsuits. A deal memo helps ensure that all parties agree on the terms and conditions of employment before production begins, providing legal protection and clarity.

Where can I find a deal memo template?

You can find a variety of templates online, but keep in mind that these templates might not fit your production’s specific legal requirements. If you hire an entertainment lawyer, they can create custom fields to ensure that the template is legally enforceable once signed.

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Shiv Rajagopal

Shiv Rajagopal is a filmmaker and writer based in Hong Kong and Los Angeles. With a background in producing indie films, music videos, and commercials, he now writes about the entertainment industry. He co-founded Forgotten Films, an indie company making films about lesser-known superheroes from the golden age of comics.

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