Entertainment Law – Riding the Rollercoaster


It’s my first day back after spending a week in Toronto taking Osgoode Hall’s Certificate in Entertainment Law which I talked about in my last blog posting. It was a roller coaster week for me, from really feeling like we’re on the right path with some of the creative content we’re making, to feeling wholly inadequate and exhausted by the t’s I’ve neglected to cross and the i’s not dotted in some arrangements we’ve made.

Although I’m still absorbing everything I learned, here are a few highlights and quotes, my favourite coming from the person who is probably THE top entertainment lawyer in Canada:

“No one knows anything.” – Michael Levine, Chairman, Westwood Creative Artists

Everything gets traced back through chain of title and who owns the copyright.

Entertainment lawyers can be a pretty funny bunch.

100 publishers turned down Yann Martel’s book Life of Pi.

International co-productions are incredibly complicated…..a web of complex interactions, financing, paperwork and negotiations that would make anyone’s head spin (and that make lawyers a lot of money).

Never sign a boilerplate agreement; they’re meant to be adjusted and amended to fit the particular situation and parties.

“Embrace change and empower digital innovators.” – Richard Pofhl, General Counsel, CONNECT and Music Canada

Look at the stats and Alberta is not a player in film production in Canada and was in fact barely mentioned all week.

The bigger the star name in a feature, the less money others will make at the end of the food chain.

The budget for a one hour TV drama in Canada is 1.3M; in the U.S. it’s 12M.

“A digital project is never complete.” -Jean-Martin Masse, Barrister & Solicitor

All rights flow from the creator.

The above points barely scratch the surface of what I learned in the course. The entertainment industries – theatre, film, TV, digital, books, gaming – are changing radically all the time for consumers, creators, and everyone else involved in the different aspects. What did I take out of all this? Like life – be prepared for the rollercoaster, be stubborn, think of creative ways to finance and get your assets made and to market, pick up the phone, be fair, and use your intuition.

If you’re interested in taking the course, it is being offered again in January 2016. Bookmark this link for updates. If you’re working in any of the above areas of entertainment, you won’t regret it.


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