Talent Release Form

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A talent release form, known as an actors contract template, is a legally binding agreement between a video or photography content creator and a talented person. The contract enables a producer to use the talent’s image, likeness, voice, name, performance, or any other specified feature for a show, content, commercial, or picture. Edit this template on Lawrina and download it for immediate use.
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Paper titled "Talent Release" and woman drinking coffee by her desk

When making a film to distribute to the public, you can use a talent release form template to create a contract with the featured individuals. The agreement establishes a contractual relationship between the filmmaker and the talent and gives the filmmaker the legal right to distribute a motion picture with the actor’s name or appearance.

What Are Talent Release Forms?

A talent release form for actors contract template, or talent contract template, is used to create a legally binding agreement between a video or photography content creator and the talent used in that content. The contract permits a producer to use the talent’s image, likeness, voice, name, performance, or any other specified feature for the show, content, commercial, or picture. The talent agreement meaning refers to a professional or non-professional individual hired to appear in a film, including:

  • Background actors;
  • Voiceover artists;
  • Main characters;
  • Child actors;
  • Models.

Further, the term “image” refers to the physical appearance of the talent captured in the performance. The word “likeness,” on the other hand, refers to the intangible features of the actor, such as voice, performance, and personality. 

The production release forms offer the following protections:

  • Guarantees that the talent is not putting the producer in conflict with another project they are working on;

  • Gives the exclusive right to distribute and commercialize the content produced;

  • Gives the right to use the actor’s performance without violating the actor’s rights;

  • Protects from lawsuits for using the talent’s voice, image, and likeness in marketing materials; 

  • Safeguards artists’ interest by guaranteeing compensation for their talent;

  • Gives the artist some degree of control over how the producers will use the material through the permissible use clause; and

  • Helps the artist avoid disputes with the producers.

Parties of the Talent Release Form

There are two parties to a talent release form.

  • The Artist (also called the “Talent”) — The artist permits the person or company (a producer, filmmaker, photographer, etc.) to use his or her image or likeness for a specific purpose in exchange for defined compensation.
  • The person or company who will be using the artist’s work — This party agrees to pay the artist a specific compensation in exchange for using the artist’s talent for a defined purpose.

Key Terms

  • Talent — the artist (actor, model, singer, etc.).
  • Name — when used in the talent release agreement, generally refers to the right to use the talent’s name in promoting the project.
  • Voice — if the talent will make any sound in the project, include a clause specifically giving the right to use the talent’s voice.
  • Image and Likeness — if the talent or any picture, painting, or likeness of the person will be seen in the project, include a clause that gives the right to use the talent’s image and likeness.
  • Performance — if the talent takes any action or makes any movement, it may be considered a “performance.” Include a clause giving the right to use the talent’s performance in the project.
Insight

Details of the talent release form may vary depending on the industry and intended use of the content. For instance, in the recording industry, a talent release form gives the producer the right to make a recording of the talent and intellectual property rights to such recording. It may contain additional terms, such as a waiver of future compensation, permission for the talent’s image to be digitally altered, or permission to use the actor’s biographical information in connection with promotions, etc. 

Types of Talent Release Forms

Because there are so many types of artistic and entertainment projects and numerous categories of talent used in those projects, there are several distinct types of talent release forms. Some of the most common types of talent release form templates follow.

Talent Release Form for Minors

This form is also known as a minor appearance release. A talent release form for minors template is used to create a contract between a parent or guardian of a minor and the other party, giving a film producer or content creator permission to feature the child in the production.

Photography Release Form

This type of talent release form is used mainly in the photography industry. Models will sign this form to permit the use and distribution of their image and likeness in a photograph by a photographer or company. 

Location Release Form

This type of form is used when filming or photography will be conducted on another person’s private property. The property owner signs this contract permitting the filming or photography of the location for distribution.

Talent Release Form for Video

This type of release form for filming gives the filmmaker permission to use a talent’s voice, likeness, and performance in video production. These can be used for any length of video.

Pet Release Form

This type of release form is used if the project includes a person’s pet. The document is signed by the pet owner and permits an individual or production company to take photographs or videos of the dog, cat, or other domestic animal.

Warning

The individual talent signs the talent release form with two exceptions

  1. If the talent is a minor, the child’s parent or legal guardian will need to sign the release.
  2. If the talent is an animal, the animal’s owner will sign the release. 

What To Include in a Talent Release Form Template

Comprehensive film talent release forms outline the talent’s consent to participate in the production of film or other content for commercial gain. The talent’s commercial interest in the output ends when they receive payment for their work. Film release forms templates help the producers create legal contracts with the talent they use, and they  give control over the work to use in present or future opportunities. 

The following information should be included in the template: 

  • Names of the parties — Add the names and contact information of the parties to the contract. The parties are usually the talent and the production company or individual content creator. Besides capturing the actor’s name, the agreement should also allow the use of that name in association with the project.
    The talent may be open to the use of their names in the opening and closing credits, but explicit permission is needed to use them in promotional materials. The talent may require additional financial incentives for the extra leverage on their names, and their interests must be well covered in the contract. 
  • Performance — Performance refers to anything the audience will see, hear, or experience due to the unique ways the actor has portrayed the role. Provide specific details for the expected talent’s performance in the contract.
  • Voice, image, and likeness — In addition to the talent’s performance in the production, the producer will need permission to use the talent’s voice, image, and likeness in press kits, bonus features, promotional stills, or official posters of the production.
  • Compensation — Include a statement that the talent’s performance will not be used unless he or she receives payment for the work. A separate agreement can outline the terms of engagement, including payment.
  • Permissions — If the work is an audio-visual production, ensure that the agreement permits the content creator to use the actor’s image and likeness and voice. 
  • Ownership of the intellectual property — Establish the owner of the intellectual property that will be produced. The business entity that is a party to the contract will generally own the rights to the film or production that makes the subject of the agreement.
  • Permissible use — Describe how the film or other content will be used in the present or near future. For example, if you intend to use the project output online first, but it may later be featured on national television, reflect these possibilities in the agreement. Keeping the clause broad can allow the content creator to draw additional value from the work. 
  • Release of liability — The talent must acknowledge that they have released the content creator or the company and its successors from any liability arising from the use or sale of the production or project that includes the talent’s name, image, or likeness. 

The form should reflect more than just the actor’s involvement in the principal work. It should also include the use of his or her features in other incidental efforts, such as marketing, that contribute to the success of the main project. 

Warning

In the film industry, a talent release form should be signed before the start of production. If you plan to sell the recording or the rights to it, any media company interested in making a purchase will require talent releases. In a video production, talent releases should be obtained from primary actors and from extras.

How To Write a Talent Release Agreement

When you have determined that you need a talent release agreement, download a simple professionally created template as a PDF to use as is or fill in the blanks to customize it to your specific needs. Using a general talent release agreement form, follow the below steps to create your agreement.

1. Contact the Talent

If you know that you want to work with a particular talent, you will need to make contact with that person or his or her agent to extend the offer. 

2. Negotiate the Terms

Propose the terms for working with the talent and negotiate any necessary issues. After these have been decided, send the talent a copy of the talent release agreement form for him or her to consider. 

3. Create the Talent Release Agreement

Using the talent release agreement form with the negotiated terms, create the agreement and print the document for signing.

4. Sign and Date the Talent Release Agreement

Be sure that both parties sign and date the agreement prior to beginning work with the talent for the project that is subject to the agreement.

When To Use a Talent Release Form

storyboard and cameraman

Use a standard talent release form any time you use the name, image, or likeness of a person or pet and plan to distribute your work in any way. If you are the talent, you will need to negotiate fair terms for the purchase of your talent. Every person has a right to privacy, which includes the right to:

  • Not have private affairs made public without a legitimate public concern;

  • Protection from the unlawful appropriation of the person’s personality; and

  • Protection from unnecessary publicity.

Therefore, content creators risk a civil rights lawsuit by filming or recording a person without his or her consent. A talent release form for video provides sufficient legal cover if your project also involves taking photographs of people. However, you will need a separate release document if you are featuring someone’s property or a pet in your project. 

Common Use Cases

There are several scenarios when a person would need to use a talent release form. Some of the most common use cases include:

  • A photographer creating a portfolio of work and using a model;
  • A videographer creating a video to distribute;
  • A recording of an artist’s voice (edit this Lawrina template to make a complete voice over contract template);
  • Creating an advertisement that uses a voice-over;
  • Creating an animated video that uses a talent’s voice;
  • Using the image or likeness of anyone and planning to distribute it;
  • Using a video, photograph, or recording of a pet.

When Not To Use the Talent Release Form

If you are photographing or videoing a crowd of people from a distance, and the people cannot easily be identified, you will not need to use a talent release form agreement. Additionally, if you are only using the photographs or video for your personal use and will not distribute your work, then you do not need to use a talent release form.

If you have any doubt whether you need a talent release form, you may want to contact a local attorney experienced in entertainment law to be sure you are protected. If you intend to distribute a video or photograph that includes easily identifiable people, download a printable talent release form to use. 

State Law

The laws governing talent release forms generally fall under the category of entertainment law or media law. This area overlaps considerably with intellectual property, copyright, trademark, and patent laws, as well as advertising and marketing law. These laws are governed by federal statutes, and state laws are based upon and defer to those federal laws. 

Legal Disclaimer

Please note that Lawrina does not provide any legal services. The information on Lawrina’s Site and its downloadable content, including legal articles and templates, shall not be considered legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, and up-to-date. If you require legal advice on your issue, we recommend you contact a qualified attorney licensed in your state. You personally assume full responsibility for any consequences, damages, and costs associated with your use of any content of Lawrina Services available on Lawrina’s Site. 

By using Lawrina’s Site you agree with mentioned above and give your irrevocable consent to comply with and to be bound by the provisions of Lawrina Service terms.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to use talent release forms?

If you are a content creator of any sort, from a photographer, video content creator, or filmmaker, working with talent, then you need a talent release form. It’s advisable to have the papers signed, alongside the main engagement contract, before the production begins.

When to fill out an actor release form?

You and the actors should fill out and sign an actor release form sample before the start of production. You want to start working on the same page with your actors, establish clear expectations and resolve legal issues before your cooperation.

What happens if you don’t have a signed talent release form?

Without a signed talent release form, you cannot use or distribute a talent's likeness, performance, voice, or name in your production. Any action taken to publicize the film exposes you to lawsuits and liabilities. Further, without an actor release form template, an actor can demand you remove them from your film anytime during or after the production. The talent can also claim copyright ownership.

Should they get a role that conflicts with the work they did with you, they may demand that you pay them liabilities for the lost opportunity or insist that you remove their performance from your production.

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