Since the first Festival in 2005, Little Big Shots has become an iconic annual event. This international children’s film festival held in Melbourne is operated by a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to ‘enhancing the media literacy of young people, fostering children’s creativity and showcasing the very best in filmmaking for, by and about kids’.
In September 2010, festival director Chloe Boulton contacted Arts Law for a document review of the Festival’s Participation Agreement which every young budding filmmakers wanting to see their work shown on the big screen had to sign.
Arts Law applies an ‘artist first’ policy – and for that reason we generally decline to give advice to arts organizations if their request relates to a dispute or contract with an artist. However, where an art organization wants advice on a standard or template document, we will occasionally give ‘best practice’ advice if we think that helping the organization develop a fair and balanced agreement is positive for both the organization and the artists with which it is dealing.
Chloe told Arts Law that this was exactly what Little Big Shots wanted to achieve – a fair agreement which struck the right balance between ensuring that the Festival secured the rights it needed to stage the Festival and associated events and also protected the rights of the children entering their work into the Festival. Arts Law referred her request to Julian Hewit of Media Arts Lawyers in Melbourne.
Julian’s advice helped Chloe revise the Participation Agreement to outline clearly the respective legal rights of the filmmaker and the Festival, address issues surrounding minors entering films (such as parental consent) and provide relevant intellectual property information to entrants. For example, the agreement makes it clear that the Festival has the world-wide right to screen the films submitted for a period limited to the 12 months commencing with that year’s Festival and that for the next two years the Festival can use excerpts, stills and other publicity excerpts for promotional purposes. This can be contrasted with some film festivals where entrants give up all rights in their films once they are submitted, including in circumstances where their film may not be guaranteed of a public screening.
This matter is an example of how best practice advice can lead to a solution which achieves the outcome sought by the arts organization without unduly restricting the rights of the artist. For more information, see our ‘Best Practice guidelines’.