The Complete Guide to Actor Release Forms - Featured - StudioBinder

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re you sure you own your movie? You may be shocked to learn that without release forms from each of your actors, your film does not belong to you. Fortunately, we’ve got an actor release form template you can use, and a handy guide to help you use it. That way, all your hard work making your film won’t go to waste.

1. actor release form

What is an actor release form?

An actor release form is the legal agreement between you and the actor. It transfers to you the rights to use any performance that was made in conjunction with your film. Without a signed actor release form, you do not have the right to use an actor’s image, voice, or performance, and you can’t sell or distribute your film without those rights.

Commonly, actor release forms also allow you to create promotional materials with your actor’s name, face, and voice. Plain and simple, it's a general release form that authorizes you to put the actor in your project and makes it all legit for the actor to appear in your project.

Sign Photo Release Form Template

What is an actor release form?

2. Film release form

What is “Image and Likeness?”

In order to show or distribute your movie, you need to acquire the rights to use the image and likeness of an actor. Otherwise, you don’t actually own or control an important piece of your film.

Images of Shark Tale and Will Smith

“Image and Likeness” is a legal shorthand for elements of an actor’s performance. This can include things like:

  • IMAGE:  The actor’s physical appearance you film or photograph.
  • VOICE:  The actor’s voice you record.
  • PERFORMANCE:  The unique way in which the actor interprets a role.

A standard actor release form should cover most things that you might have in your film, but there are potential exceptions.

You may want to include specific language to cover other creative or performance elements like choreography or the playing of an instrument.

3. filling an actor release form

When should you fill out an actor release form?

Your actors should sign all their contracts before production begins. This should include the actor release form. It's a good rule to resolve common legal protocols prior to production.

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FREE Download: Actor Release Form Template

Free Film Actor Release Form Template - StudioBinder

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4. Who fills out an actor release form

Exactly who should fill out an actor release form?

Anyone who appears in your film in any way, shape, or form should fill out an actor release form. This includes not only your principal cast, but also any background / extras, voice actors, and even people who appear in photographs or other form in your film. Require them all to complete a film release form.

Organizing information about every actor, and every crew member for that matter, stands as one of the most important tasks in making a film. You'll need to be able to contact every crew position, under every department, at a moment's notice.

Maintaining a contact list is crucial. And you'll want to keep your production contact list online so you can access it from anywhere and easily share it.

Manage talent and crew details in the cloud to access, update, and share at any time

Back to talent release forms for a quick note. In some cases, the standard actor release form may not be sufficient. Young cast members, for example, may require a modified actor release form for minors, which typically includes a section for parents or legal guardians to sign.

Minor talent release agreement

Not sure if you'll be working with minors? Bring the proper blank forms just in case. You never know when you'll need them, and it's your job to be ready.

PRO TIP: BRING EXTRA COPIES TO SET

Make sure to have plenty of copies of your actor release form, especially when you’re shooting with lots of extras. It’s much easier to get talent to sign a release form on the shoot rather than to track them down after production wraps.

Looking for free video and photo release forms?

Select the release form you need and we'll send it to your inbox.

5. Guided Walkthrough

How to fill out the actor release form template?

Before we dive in, please note that our standard actor release form template was designed to help you in a pinch. However, it cannot replace a full assessment of your production by legal counsel to determine your specific needs. Always consult with your production attorney before relying on any third-party legal forms.

Now let's jump into the easy step-by-step process for filling out a talent release form. Make sure you download your free actor release form template.

STEP 1: FILL IN THE COMMON FIELDS FIRST

Before you print copies of your actor release form template to bring to set, fill out common fields. These are the parts of the template that apply specifically to your film.

Film Actor Release Form Template - Pre-Fill the Common Fields - StudioBinder

Talent release agreement form

There are many common fields in a standard actor release form template. They include:

  • Production #:  If you’re working for a company that runs multiple productions, this will help them sort the paperwork.
  • Production Title: The title of your film (be sure to note this as a tentative title, subject to change).
  • Director: The director’s name.
  • Producer: The producer’s name.

In the main text of this release, fill in your film’s working title in any spot that is marked “Picture”.

The rest of the blanks in the main text of the release are for your production company name (or for your name, if you’re producing without a production company).

STEP 2: PRINT OUT A STACK

Once you’ve filled out the common fields of the actor release form template, you can print out a stack.

For your principal cast, bundle the form with any other paperwork and have them sign it all before production begins.

For extras, it’s handy to have a stack of talent release forms available when you’re shooting, as you can often end up with additional unexpected extras at the last minute.

You can also email your actor release form to your actors in advance and have them arrive to set with a printed, signed copy. If you’re going digital, expand your producer’s toolkit to include an e-signing service.

esigning agreements

e-signing service

Executing documents online can streamline the signing experience for both yourself and your production. Services like HelloSign and Docracy are popular, legally-binding cloud solutions.

While going digital can save you time, it’s important to have additional hard copies available on set.

STEP 3: FILL IN THE VARIABLE FIELDS

If you want to be generous to your actors, you may also fill out these fields for them in advance.

Film Actor Release Form Template - Fill in Variable Fields - StudioBinder

Film Actor Release Form

If you already have their name, contact information and character name, you can fill these fields out on the computer or by hand in the production office before arriving to set.

Be sure actors sign their legal name and NOT their performing name. It is often useful to note this on the form and to offer a space for the actor to specify how they would like to be credited, if different from their legal name.

STEP 4: GET SIGNATURES

Have the actor sign and date where indicated.

Film Actor Release Form Template - Talent and Producers Signatures - StudioBinder

Film Actor Release Form - Signatures

Make sure the producer also countersigns the form.

While not required, it’s also good practice to scan the signed document and send a copy to your actor for their records.

6. Keep Actor Release Forms organized

Keep these organized! You'll need them later ...

The actor release forms may seem bureaucratic, but when you’re ready to sell your film, distributors will look closely at your “chain of title,” or the stack of documents that prove your ownership of all the different bits and pieces that make up your film.

And your actor release forms are critical components of your chain of title, so make sure you have copies backed up, preferably digital.

In addition to using cloud-based e-signing solutions to keep copies of executed documents online, you can scan hard copies of actor releases right on set using your smartphone and an app like ScanBot.

On a shoot, you might wind up with stacks of papers blowing all over set. It can be daunting to keep physical files of so many film release forms, contracts, notes, script pages, actor release forms, and other assorted documents.

What if you could keep all your documents, and your talent / crew profiles and contact details, in one place? In the cloud, accessible at any time? That's what production management software does: 

Keep film actor release forms in one place and manage production contacts in the cloud

Beyond the document storing benefits, StudioBinder also provides collaboration tools to create shooting schedules, script breakdowns, and call sheets. It's also free to get started.

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FREE Download: Actor Release Form Template

Free Film Actor Release Form Template - StudioBinder

Download your FREE ​Actor Release Form Template.
Just enter your email address and we'll instantly send it to you!

Up Next

How to Secure Locations (Free Form) 

Now you know why you need actor release forms and how to fill them out. But as any producer knows, it takes more than that. When you shoot on location, there's a lot to consider. Do you need a permit? The owner's permission?  Insurance? 

We guide you through the location process in our next post, and provide a free location release form. Check out the article, and keep your location release forms with your talent release forms. Get all the forms to shoot your film in top form.

Up Next: How to Secure Film Locations (w/Free Location Form) →
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