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Swing Your Parter Round and Round…maybe not!

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The National Center for Media Engagement published this template for partnership.  I’m using it to guide a partnership agreement discussion with Jae Rhim Lee for a film we are proposing to do together about death denial and the funeral industry.  I think you filmmakers out there might find it useful, too.

A Pre-Nuptial Contract

Just like personal relationships, production partnerships can be filled with satisfaction, strategy, and struggle.

The Proposal: I Think I’m In Love
Are the participants/decision-makers compatible? Will they be able to achieve resolution when potential conflicts arise? Are their editorial standards in-synch?

’Til Death Do Us Part
How long should the partnership last? Is this a monogamous relationship? How many partners will there be? What does each partner add to the project? Caveat: Each additional partner adds exponentially to meeting time and decision-making time and effort.

The Vows (Write Your Own)
What are the goals for each partner? Publicity? Name value? Clout? Added resources? Extension of project visibility and public service?

What is the project?
Are there broadcast, print, web, event components? What are the roles and responsibilities for each organization? (Be precise.) What are the editorial standards and policies? What is the process for finding consensus on issues and resolving conflicts? Who are the decision-makers for each organization? Is there a need for regular meetings?

Having the Marriage Blessed
Does the partnership need formal/informal buy-in or sanction from senior management, the GM, or the Board?

Will There Be Progeny?
Will there be secondary or limited partners? What are their roles, privileges, and obligations?

For Richer or Poorer
What are the financial obligations of each partner? What will each contribute in cash or in-kind? What are the roles in fundraising? For commercial/noncommercial partnerships, how will underwriters and advertisers be acknowledged?

Renewing the Vows
What are the check-in points to ensure that the partners are satisfied and that goals are being met? How will we determine whether to extend the term of the partnership? What are the criteria to critique project success?

Mr./Mrs./Ms.?
Does the partnership have a name? How will each partner be acknowledged on air, in print, on the web, in signage? How will organizational logos be incorporated?  Basically, credits.

I Want a Divorce!
What is the process for ending the partnership on amiable terms?