March 6, 2012

Esq. Productions Makes it “Legal”

Legal Experts Visits SCA

For many students at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the first step into the real world can be daunting. In addition to generating a good idea, executing the idea and getting the product into the right hands, students also have to worry about the business and legal ramifications of their creative work. Thankfully, on March 3rd, Esq. Productions hosted a panel called Get it Right: Getting it Made Without Giving it Away at SCA to discuss common pitfalls of the first step into the real world. One theme of the morning was transparency.

"Bring your issues out into the open. Don't hide your dragons," suggested panelist Neil Ollivierra, Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs for Lionsgate Entertainment. "Don't sweat your [legal] issues. Don't hide them. Don't worry about them. Get them out in the open and deal with them. Let everyone know what's going on and find a solution."

The panel for the morning's event included Ollivierra, David Wienir, a Business Affairs Executive at UTA and Matthew N. Sugarman from Weissmann, Wolff, Bergman, Coleman, Grodin & Evall LLP. The topics included idea protection, chain of title, moving into the digital space and the different roles that talent lawyers, business affairs executives, agents and studios play over the course of an artist's career.

"It's very rare that what I think I'm going to be doing is what I end up doing on any given day," said Wienir. "It's a wonderful job for someone who is comfortable reacting to what goes on. If you can pay attention to several details at once, it might be for you."

Esq. Productions, a recognized 501(c)(3) public charity, produces educational programming focusing on the business and legal sides of the various entertainment industries. Run by Latha Duncan, a graduating third year student at Southwestern Law School, and William Barrett, a graduating third year student at New York Law School, Esq. Productions has worked with various film schools and film festivals.

"We believe there is much the creative artist can do to proactively navigate the business and legal minefields of the industry,” said Duncan. “We try to provide the artist with the broadest perspective possible on these matters. We want artists to leave our events empowered to tackle these sides of their careers at the front end."

For more information about Esq. Productions, please see