a voluntary arrangement between two or more parties that is enforceable by law as a binding legal agreement.
Personally I find them archaic in nature. Anything that is enforceable by law should be a red flag because it implies there is no trust.
Contracts are impossible to get out of without someone holding a grudge. The definition of a grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury. In most contracts there aren’t injuries, so we have to figure we are talking about an insult here. When you are talking about insult, then you are referring to ego because only the ego can be insulted and if someone’s ego comes into play…it’s on!
This thing just gets uglier and uglier.
I recently broke a contract or at least I think I did. I sent a certified letter (snail mail its called in the business), to my agency asking to terminate my contract. I felt like I had been forced into signing it the day I visited them to pick up a check. They talked about how great it would be to be under one roof and despite that little voice inside me that said, “don’t do it”, I did it anyway. I did manage to keep a clause about freelancing for print but they added a little notation on that as well.
Well months went by and so did my career…to the shitter. I went from 2-5 auditions a week to 0. I pissed agents off by telling them I could no longer go out for them and wound up giving up large potentials to make money. I turned down work. Plays, web, industrials, commercials, even extra work!
Why? Because I’m loyal and I was under contract. Under contact? Right there is a problem! Why do you have to be under anything? You should always be on top or at least think you are.
Well I got a few mad emails from one of my agents who said I was technically under contract with her. So…I sent emails to my agency asking them if we could revise the contract. When I didn’t get a response after 6 emails about the contract and perhaps making it non-exclusive, I called my manager and he told me to send the letter.
So I did. Still no response and they owe me money.
I don’t personally see any benefit to contracts whatsoever. What I do see, is that they protect people who don’t trust others. At least that is my perception of them.
Two days ago I found out another contract that was put in place to protect me totally worked against me. No one read over the contract and I lost thousands of dollars. My commercial airs constantly on all channels yet I was only paid for cable.
Where is the trust? What happened to the days when you gave a bag of wheat for a bag of potatoes? When someone’s word was as good as gold? When someone said, “I’ll call you” and they did? When someone did something nice for you without wanting something in return?
Have we become so focused on making money, that we have lost sight of kindness? Of doing the right thing? Of doing right by others?
Am I mad about the lack of money? I’m disappointed. I spent 2- ten hour days on set with people who seemed reasonable. The client was there, so was the advertising agency and I gave them all exactly what they paid for. We all did. They have run the commercial for a second year now, knowing full well they have taken advantage of us and I would like to think that they do the right thing now and pay us what we are owed.
Am I out of the contract with my agency? I have no idea, but I know that I am not saying no to anyone else now. If they want their 20% off of the work I do, then they can have it.
At the end of the day I am not an actor for the money, I am an actor for the love of the art. And no one can take that from me, unless of course they make a contract for that too.
Don’t sign any contracts! Get something in writing-sure, if you feel so inclined. But trust your gut. It’s the best gauge you have for any endeavor.