Terminology Tuesday – Deal Memo

A deal memo is a less formal employment contract, usually implemented by the studio and drafted by a casting director or associate. ⁠

Because they are less formal, they generally contain significantly less wording than traditional contracts but are still binding. ⁠

In a deal memo, you can find all details of the job including terms of employment, financial compensation, billing and any travel points such as transportation/accommodations/per diem etc.⁠
If you’re represented, your agent/manager will take care of all the specifics long before you go to sign your contract + will negotiate the best deal they can for you. ⁠

But if you’re not represented… or just want to be on the lookout, here are a couple things you should take note of as you glance over a deal memo/contract:⁠

1. If the contract does not state that the agreement is covered by SAG, make sure you give SAG a call to confirm that the project is signatory. ⁠
2. Especially when it comes to commercials: check the exclusivity details! Skipping over this part could prevent you from being able to book various projects. AND they are almost always subject to negotiation. ⁠

If the deal is “deferred payment” (double-tap if you to know that term all too well), here are some things you’ll want to make sure are contractual:⁠

1. FOOTAGE!!!! If copy, credit & meals is all you’re being promised, you better get the damn copy, credit & meals. 2 out of the 3 will not suffice and you need to make sure this is contractual. ⁠
2. Make sure the “deferred” payment is clear. A deferral in payments means that you agree to make X payment when Y happens. Make sure you know what the X and Y exactly are. ⁠

And lastly…⁠

Doing favors for friends is embedded into this industry’s culture. And these favors can certainly add up to your benefit. But even the strongest friendships require boundaries and clear communication when it comes to business. Signing a contract that reflects deal points that are important to you (EVEN when it’s for your friend’s short film) isn’t just smart, it’s an act of self-respect. ⁠


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