Perpetuity, Acting. What is it?

This is a joke, right? It’s not. I’ve won and lost many roles, both unpaid and paid that have come with contracts for review. When I get my contract the first thing I look for is the usage time and hope I don’t see the word “perpetuity” or what I’m seeing a lot of recently is the term “buyout”. Basically what that means is that you’re giving whoever you’re working for the rights to use the footage of you that has been filmed whenever they want without having to ask or PAY you for your likeness ever again.

Creative people work in such a strange industry, we work for companies and brands (namely advertising) where they have competition with other businesses. While competition can be healthy for them it can be bad for us (at times). Hear me out, say you go for an audition for a big restaurant chain lets call them MacMonald’s and you get the job. That means you usually won’t be seen in any other role for a competing company lets call them Burger Queen until the term of the contract is finished, that is why they pay you a decent amount of money and set a time period in your contract letting you know when your talent will no longer be used, because not only will you be usually locked in for 12 months with MacMonald’s for your likeness but Burger Queen won’t want to be associated you while you work with their competitor limiting your job opportunities.

Now let’s say you signed a contract with MacMonald’s and it was with a perpetuity/buyout, that means everything I said about Burger Queen not wanting you for the duration of the contract will stand FOREVER. Sure you can lie and say that your contract is up but if it came out and the commercials were airing at the same time there is a high risk of you not being seen by casting directors again or worst case scenario being sued as you have broken your contact resulting in a companies brand damage.

Regardless of all that, lets say this was a stepping stone. While on set you just happen to meet the right people that will allow you to get bigger and better roles for your career which lead to you making it to the big time. This also means they will be able to show that old content of you using ‘perpetuity’ as an excuse and make money off the back of your hard work and fame without you even being able to renegotiate the contract or get paid again.

Take away from this blog post: Be mindful of what goes into your contract, most of the time they’re fine and there’s nothing to worry about, but it is always good to read through it and know what you’re getting yourself into even if you have an agent.

If you have any crazy stories leave them in the comments below, I would love to hear about them.

As always, thanks for reading, catch you in the next one.

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