Reflections on Being an Indie Film Producer #4

The Antagonist Strikes—with Legalities

First, some legalities of our own. This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. We aren’t lawyers. We’re just indie filmmakers who made a movie discussing some of what we learned.

While the core of indie filmmaking is your passion and vision, an often overlooked antagonist lurks in the shadows waiting to strike. What is this unseen opposition? Legalities. But with the right tools and understanding, you can navigate this tricky terrain and ensure your project’s safety. The following essential components will help you with this process.


When collaborating with other producers, actors, crew, or even investors, a clear and concise contract lays down the rules of engagement. Contracts define roles, responsibilities, and remunerations, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Before filmmaking even begins, ensure all involved parties have signed on the dotted line. This not only secures mutual agreements, but also prevents potential disputes in the future.

NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements)

If you're sharing your script, business strategy, or any confidential details about your project, an NDA is essential. It ensures that the recipient of this information won't disclose or misuse it. It’s also a protective measure that keeps your project’s unique elements under wraps until you're ready for the grand reveal.

Never be shy about requiring an NDA from whomever you are working with. When we were putting together our team for Blood Pledge, we never had an issue with someone signing an NDA. The key was making our NDAs straightforward and focused on our project.


In the complex process of filmmaking, expenses can pile up quickly. With everything from equipment rentals to on-set meals, always ensure that you get receipts for every expense you have. They not only serve as proof of those expenses but are crucial for budget tracking and potential tax benefits. Plus, if any financial disputes ever arise, they stand as undeniable evidence.

In summary, while the creative aspects of filmmaking often steal the limelight, it's these behind-the-scenes legalities that ensure a smooth production process. By staying vigilant, informed, and prepared, you can tackle any legal curveballs thrown your way, ensuring your cinematic masterpiece remains safe.

With a firm business foundation, you’re now ready to launch into the creative phase of making your indie movie.

Dan's addition:

Don't forget about film insurance!  An absolute must.  Filmmaking by its very nature involves interactions which can lead to injury. Especially in a horror film.

We found that we had to rewrite the script in order to keep the premiums down.  The following blow up insurance costs:

  • Guns
  • Stunts
  • Pyrotechnics (explosions and fire)
  • Aerial (having actors above the ground on anything)

Of the four above, we had three in our script. We thought we had our budget ready until we investigated insurance premiums where they give you a checklist of every possible aspect of feature film production.

As a result we eliminated two and agreed to not use any kind of ammunition in the guns and rifle as well as not having ammunition on set.  We added the effect in post production.

You can check it out here: