This past week, Atlanta Film and TV had the opportunity to sit down and interview Entertainment Law Attorney, John Seay, esq. of the Seay Firm, LLC, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Film and TV: How did you get into Law?
John Seay: For ten years, I worked as a music writer and tour manager and after a while, I realized I needed something more stable. That’s when I spoke with a friend who was an Entertainment Lawyer and told me that I should consider going into Entertainment Law. I eventually took some Entertainment Law classes at The University of Georgia and finished in 2010 and while working at Turner, I started my own practice in 2012.
Atlanta Film and TV: With your entertainment background, how have you used that to assist your clients?
John Seay: Artists brains work slightly different so, I have to approach my clients in a different way. I speak their language and that is how they can tell that I am authentic. In the past as an artist, I’ve signed bad deals and I know what it’s like. I don’t try to overcharge clients because I know they’re just starting out.
Atlanta Film and TV: What are some ways new content creators can protect their ideas from being stolen?
John Seay: Just know that copyrighting does not protect ideas, but the expression. For ideas, it’s an idea submission release. What you produce has to be either written down or recorded first. You can only protect your ideas by a contract or an Non-Disclosure Agreement. For instance, if someone tells you about something and that person promises not to use it for themselves and if they do, it’s considered a breach of contract. If someone breaches a contract, you can sue them for this.
Atlanta Film and TV: What are some practical ways new actors can prevent being scammed?
John Seay: Be sure to get any contracts you received, reviewed first. Non-lawyers cannot give legal advice, but have others who have knowledge about reading contracts read over it. Be sure to self-educate yourself on what agencies and or companies are legitimate. Do your own research and be sure to have others in the industry vet companies before signing any contracts. At some point in your career, you should consider hiring an Entertainment Lawyer.
Atlanta Film and TV: At what point in one’s career as an actor should they retain the services of an attorney?
John Seay: Any good attorney, can help to answer this question. Once you get a contract, or once you get that first deal, call me! Email multiple attorneys. However, be sure the attorney is one who treats you like a person. Don’t be afraid to ask how much they charge and be sure to ask if they will at least take a flat fee. Once a deal comes in or getting paid for gigs will justify someone to read over contract. But, be sure to have someone do this, because once you sign a bad deal, it can halt your career for years!
Atlanta Film and TV: How have you seen the Atlanta Film and TV industry change in the last five years?
John Seay: The tax incentives have trickled down to Atlanta. In the past, L.A. would bring their own crew and talent, whereas now, more crews production companies and talent have been developed in Atlanta. The Atlanta Film and TV industry has also increased its overall knowledge base, along with more legitimate opportunities for local talent.
For more information, please check out the Seay Firm, LLC. website!