For a lot of people in the entertainment industry, making a movie isn't just about making a film that audiences will enjoy and pay to see, it's also about creating a piece of art. Unlike Van Gogh and Michelangelo though, movies have a number of artists who contribute to its final form. Everyone from writers to actors to special effects artists to the director all want to exert creative control over the film. After all, it's their name that will go on the final product and they want to make sure that it's something that they're proud of.
Most people who only have a general understanding of entertainment law assume that the person who exerts the most creative control over a movie is the director. Though this isn't completely wrong, it isn't completely right either. Directors, much like anyone else who works on a film, have to follow the terms of their contract. In some cases, such as is the case in the Marvel movie franchise, it's the studio that exerts the most creative control over the finished movie.
But why is this the case? Well, as we have said before on this blog, contracts are the lifeblood of the entertainment industry. Depending on the project and what players are involved, both the entertainers and the production company may be restricted in the amount of creative control they exert over the project. In the end, disputes can arise, resulting in a performer or director leaving the project, or a project being cancelled altogether.
If you're new to the entertainment industry or are simply unfamiliar with the particular laws that apply, you may be asking the question we posed in today's post title: how much creative control do directors have over their movies? As you have seen, creative control is mostly dictated by the contract you sign.
In order to get a better understanding of your rights, you may want to have an experienced lawyer look over your contract. Not only can they explain the extent of control you are allowed to exert but they can also help you resolve any disputes you may have about the terms of the contract, which can help you avoid costly litigation as well.