In all of my years in entertainment there is a an old adage that I have always adhered to, no matter how long it takes or how uncomfortable the silence becomes as I do it, I read my contracts completely. Top to bottom and through the fine print. I ask questions if I don’t understand and I’ll walk away if you try to screw with me. When I finally sign on the line I know what I’m signing. It has lead to a decent understanding of contract law just from the amount of reading that I have done over 25 years (yes, I even read the contracts when I was a kid and I asked my dad a lot of questions). I like to relate contract law to reading Shakespeare: Yes, it’s still English, but you need to pay attention because it says exactly what it means, except when it doesn’t.
For the last several months my career has been completely entwined with contract law and the amount of time that it takes to get contracts passed back and forth, altered, agreed upon, written and eventually signed. Nothing has the same kind of potential for frustration as contract paperwork. Think about buying a car. Buying a car takes, like, a whole day and most of that time is spent negotiating and writing up the contracts so that you can spent the next five to seven years paying them money. It takes 20 minutes to pick the car out and five hours to figure out how you’re going to pay for it – and that’s just for a car that costs tens of thousands of dollars! As the price tag goes up so does the time-line.
Film financing takes for-ev-er!
The picture for today is a page of legalese that I was researching about on the job surveillance in regards to audio and eavesdropping laws:
Sure it doesn’t have to do with contracts (yet), but knowing your rights, especially in these days of constant probable surveillance, is very important. To bring it back to topic, when you get a W-2 job, or even 1099 jobs, you sign a contract for employment. Most people just sign and don’t really pay attention to what rights they surrender when they get hired. In this economic climate people are even less inclined to read those papers, and your employers know that. Fiance Rene is working in HR right now and she is having a terrible time right now because a whole lot of people are getting canned due to violations that the people being fired were warned about in their paperwork. I don’t blame the employees completely – sure they are responsible for reading their contracts – but, in my opinion, the company took advantage of their desperation and now these people, who really need work, are suffering and so is Rene as she has to tell them that they have been let go.
Do you know what your employer is entitled to at your office? Are you being listened to when you are working? Something to think about, and something you can do something about. You are entitled to see your employment contract at any time. If you have concerns I advise looking at that contract and making sure that you understand what it says. I think you’ll find that a lot of things that we accept in work place culture are actually “forbidden” in the employment contract and can be used against you.
Suddenly this post got really paranoid. Sorry.
See you tomorrow!