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Understanding the Business of Entertainment

The Legal and Business Essentials All Filmmakers Should Know

1st Edition

Understanding the Business of Entertainment: The Legal and Business Essentials All Filmmakers Should Know is an indispensable guide to the business aspects of the entertainment industry, providing the information you need to break in and to suc­ceed. Written in a clear and engaging tone, this book covers the essential topics in a thorough but reader-friendly manner and includes plenty of real-world examples that bring business and legal concepts to life. Whether you want to direct, produce, write, edit, photograph, or act in movies, this book covers how to find work in your chosen field and examines the key provisions in employment agreements for creative personnel. If you want to make films independently, you’ll find advice on where to look for financing, what kinds of deals might be made in the course of production, and important information on insurance, releases, and licenses.
Other topics covered include:

  • Hollywood’s growth and the current conglomerates that own most of the media
  • How specific entertainment companies operate, including facts about particular studios and employee tasks
  • How studios develop projects, manage production, seek out independent films, and engage in marketing and distribution
  • The kinds of revenues studios earn and how they account for these revenues
  • How television networks and new media-delivery companies like Netflix oper­ate and where the digital revolution might take those who will one day work in the film and TV business.

As an award-winning screenwriter and entertainment attorney, Gregory Bernstein gives us an inside look at the business of entertainment. He proves that knowing what is behind filmmaking is just as important as the film itself.


Gregory Bernstein has worked in the entertainment business for the past 33 years from both the business and creative sides – as an entertainment attorney, stu­dio business affairs executive, WGA union senior executive, and award-winning screenwriter.

After graduating from the UCLA Law School in 1980, Bernstein practiced entertain­ment law for two years at O’Melveny & Myers, an international law firm where he represented, among others, CBS. He then worked for six years as vice-president of business affairs at Columbia and Tri-Star Pictures, negotiating more than a hundred acting, directing, producing, writing, rights, financing and distribution agreements. Following his studio executive years, Bernstein enrolled in the film directing pro­gram at the American Film Institute where he earned an MFA degree. Since leaving AFI, he has received writing credit on three films: The Conspirator, which was released in 2011 and directed by Robert Redford, and for which he was awarded the Humanitas Prize; Trial and Error, which starred Charlize Theron, Michael Rich­ards and Jeff Daniels; and Call Me Claus, which starred Whoopi Goldberg. He has also sold scripts to Disney and Dreamworks. In 2003, Bernstein took a sabbatical from writing and entered the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he received a master’s degree in public administration. Upon returning to Los Angeles, he served as the assistant executive director of the Writers Guild of America from 2004 until 2006. Since 2012, along with screenwriting, he has also taught film at Arizona State University.