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Thread: Animated Film Distribution (Ltd Companies etc)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Animated Film Distribution (Ltd Companies etc)

    Hi Folks

    This is my first post, so please be gentle. Okay so I've been knocked out of the game for a while, I used to be a Researcher for a few years and through a tragic series of events I've ended up in various office jobs for the past 7 years so my knowledge/remembrance of how the biz works is a bit hazy. So here's where I'm at.

    I bought a copy of Toon Boom Studio 4, and can produce some decent enough animation with it. I've developed an idea and characters, written a script, recorded the soundtrack and am preparing to make an animated feature (just over 60 mins).

    Now eventually down the line I'm looking to get this out on DVD (no matter how small the label). Since this is something I'm doing myself, at home what steps would I need to take to do this? What I mean is, do I need to buy a limited company whilst I'm making this film, or could I make the film and copyright it under the limited company whilst trying to sell it on. It's just me doing the animating, voices etc (well my friend has kindly let me use his recording studio to do the soundtrack) so it wouldn't be a big company.

    Any advice on this would be very much appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    I don't really understand why you're worried about forming a limited company for copyright purposes. From the moment you make the film you own the copyright. From the moment you draw the characters, you own the copyright.

    If you want to protect your ideas - forget it. You can't copyright an idea.

    If you really want to protect yourself against someone stealing your characters, I'd go and see a solicitor and get something drawn up showing that you'd created these images on such & such a date (it won't increase your "rights" but could be useful "proof" if ever you needed to challenge someone over breach of copyright.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009


    Hi Tim

    Thanks for that. I wasn't really too sure what the beef was when finally coming to get the film distributed. I suppose it's really down to the legalaties of selling it on once I've made it that i was wondering about.

    I read the Guerilla Film Makers Handbook ages ago and they were insistant on buying a Ltd Company to cover your film and yourself once you come to sell it on, otherwise there could be some financial comeback on you after it's done. Thinking about it though, it's not going to cost me anything to make this as I've already bought the animation package and recorded the soundtrack, so I suppose that I'm in a good position with a no budget film

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    I tend to take a lot of what's written in the "Guerillas Low-Budget How-To book for Dummies" genre with a large pinch of salt. A quick Imdb check on nearly all the authors shows that they're usually quite unsuccesful as movie-makers but make a mint by telling other people how to do it.

    You don't need to have a limited company at all. If you're going to make a production with a budget over a few thousand, or you're going to borrow money then a limited company is a good idea to have in case it all goes to ratshit.

    The main "safety net" you need is a proof that you made the work and published it. Having the movie shown in a film festival will do. Although... if someone comes up with a similar idea, then it's up to you to prove that they stole it from you. Last year I spoke to a producer about an idea for a documentary, the next week he rang up to say that the very same idea had been shown on the beeb that evening! Sheer coincidence. It happens like that, especially if it's about current events or themes.

    I spent ages convinced that the makers of "Murphy's Law" had directly copied a scene from a feature I'd worked on the previous year, it was only later that I realised that the M.L. scene had been shot before ours had even been edited. Having said that... When the whole story of a short youtube drama of mine was used as a plot for "Spooks" a year and a half after it'd been put on the net... I'm not so sure about that one!

    It happens, it might be coincidence but there again... it's all part of the business.

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