BBC Films

Further Reading: Glossary

filmmaking guide

Further Reading: Glossary

These are just a few of the terms used in this guide.

Ancillary Rights: Subsidiary rights i.e. merchandising rights, books, sequels.

Assignment: To transfer a right or interest to another.

Broadcast Standards: A set of guidelines which outline operating protocols for which a broadcaster presents their programming.

Buyout: i.e. acquiring rights through a one-off payment. Buyout Music is a type of production music that can be purchased through a one-off payment for use in a TV show, film or video production etc. After this payment is made, there are no ongoing fees or royalties which have to be paid to the seller of the music. Buyout music is a type of royalty-free music.

Commission: A payment made to a director, writer, production company etc. for the performance of a task or completion of a section of work.

Copyright: Copyright in a work (script, film, music, artwork, etc.) resides with the author or creator. It is a right of ownership which can be transferred or licensed to another, e.g. a Producer. Usually you cannot copyright an idea, only how an idea has been expressed.

Deal Memo: Outlining what two parties want from the deal. Often done in the form of a one-two page letter and as a precursor to a full contract, but can also stand alone as an agreement.

Defamation: Statements or incidents which make false claims against an individual, company, organisation, etc. which may professionally or personally affect their reputation or credibility.

Distribution: Getting your film seen by more than your family. Distribution refers to the marketing and circulation of a film. For instance in cinemas, on Television, DVD, Video-On-Demand services & the Internet.

Exclusivity: Used in terms of rights and gives the buyer of the rights the exclusive use on the work.

Feature Music: Includes musical scores and soundtracks.

Finder: A person who predominantly assists producers with acquiring shortfalls in production budgets.

Formats: Differing technical standards relating to size and shape of a photographic film. Examples include imax, super-8, and HD.

Found Footage: a method of compiling films partly or entirely of footage that was shot by someone other than the filmmaker (e.g. archive footage). It can also mean footage that has been 'found' e.g. homevideos or old footage found in bins, charity shops etc.

Grading: A grader will go through your film and correct each scene to achieve the exact colour and tonal qualities that you want.

Incidental: i.e. unintentionally included in the background. Incidental Music is music that plays in the background of a scene to build atmosphere, tension or drama.

Indemnity: Insurance against possible loss or damage.

Infringement: In terms of copyright this means any unpermitted or unauthorised use of a work that has been copyrighted.

In Perpetuity: Used in terms of rights and licensing, meaning forever.

Intellectual Property (IP): A product that is the result of creativity (especially one with commercial worth) such as patents, trademarks and copyright. For example it could mean copyright of literary or artistic works. IP can be quite contentious and specifies different legal rights and activities which the author or creator may exercise in their work.

Justification: In the legal sense, this means when a defendant proves that his/her statement was true.

Liability: The state of being liable - that is, legally responsible for an act or omission.

Licensee: A person or party to whom a licence is granted or issued.

Licensor: A person who gives another a licence.

MCPS: The former abbreviation for the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, which has now changed its name to PRS For Music (the group was also formerly known as the MCPS-PRS Alliance). It is an organisation which collects royalties for the copying of copyrighted music into different formats. PRS also distributes these royalties to the music copyright holders.

Moral Rights: These are the following rights that belong to an author of a copyright work: to be identified as the author, for the work not to be treated in a derogatory way and the right to object to false attribution. Typically with artists’ works, moral rights in the work will prevent others from manipulating, changing or altering the work without the artist’s permission.

Music Supervision: is the integration of music to a film scene, using published music or specially commissioned works. A music supervisor (or musical director) is an individual who combines music with film, TV etc.

Net Profit: This is the amount payable to the producer from all income derived from the exploitation of the film after fees and expenses incurred by the distributor have been deducted.

Optioning: A Producer buys an option to a script or story which gives them a specified time period in order to finance the production of the film. An option does not give the producer the right to use the screenplay.

Outline: The plot structure to your story, avoiding unnecessary embellishments.

Post-production: Everything that takes place once the film has been shot. Including editing, grading, music, visual effects.

Post-synchronisation: The process of adding sound to shots after they have been filmed - including dubbing and sound effects.

PRS For Music: The abbreviation for the Performing Rights Society, which now also encompasses what was the MCPS (see above). It is an organisation which collects royalties for the copying of copyrighted music into different formats. PRS also distributes these royalties to the music copyright holders.

Public Domain: This term refers to works/information etc. which have no identified proprietary owners and which can be used by anyone.

Remuneration: Wage or payment for services.

Royalties: These are ongoing payments that are made to a creator of (or participant in) an artistic work (e.g. composer, author, performer) based upon sales of that work.

Royalty-Free: Royalty-free can be used to describe media (such as graphics, photos, music etc.) that is bought for a one-off fee allowing it to be used for profit, without payment of royalties (ongoing payments to the creator).

Sample Music: Or Sampling is taking a part, or sample, from one sound recording and re-using it in another composition or enhancing it with other sounds or instruments to be used on its own.

Synopsis: A brief description of the overall story.

Tort: A wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to legal liability. It can be intentional or from carelessness (called 'negligence').

Treatment: Describes what happens in the story, following the plot structure and looks in detail at what happens. Normally does not have dialogue.

Related Guides

For more recommended reading, including where to read about filmmaking on the web and in print, see our Related Links: Recommended Reading as well as our Filmmaking Books

For useful film glossaries and definitions of other filmmaking terms, see our Related Links: Glossaries

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