This survey course examines the entertainment industry from the perspective of laws and practices related to the unions in the creative and production sphere of the audio-visual sector (film, television, DVD, internet, whatever’s next). The audio-visual entertainment industry is probably the most “unionized” in North America. This course focuses on the most high-profile, and perhaps the most powerful, of the many unions in the entertainment industries. These are the so-called “Hollywood Guilds.”
The guilds represent the primary creative elements in the making of audio-visual art and commerce -- the screenwriters, the directing team and actors/performers. The extensive and pervasive impact, reach and influence of these atypical and unique institutions are unavoidable for lawyers and their clients in the audio-visual sectors of the entertainment business. Eventually, “entertainment lawyers” – whether representing clients in the financing, creation, production or distribution of audio-visual works -- will encounter the guilds.
Although especially relevant to students interested in a career in “entertainment law,” this class should be informative, interesting and useful to all law students. In fact, it deals with some of the key legal issues of the day in the US and internationally -- how to facilitate and manage the creation, production, distribution and ownership of intellectual property and the division of the money and other benefits it generates. This course addresses these issues both in general and specifically as to the audio-visual industries.
For purposes of this course, the “Hollywood Guilds” are the Writers Guild of America [the WGA], the Directors Guild of America [the DGA], and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists [SAG-AFTRA].
The intent of the course is to provide students who complete it with information and tools to allow them to join the upper echelons of the initiated. Throughout, we will highlight and stress the practical – the unique practices, the special relationships, the “how to” and the “pitfall avoidance mechanisms.”
Brian Walton has been a member of the California Bar for 40 years. For most of that time, he has been involved with the entertainment industry and the world of the guilds, including as Executive Director of the WGA for 13 years and as Chief Negotiator for SAG, among other things. He has taught and lectured at several law schools in the last decade. This will be the fourth consecutive year Professor Walton will teach this class at UCLA. He is currently writing a text for the class. Any students with questions may email him at BrianWaltonLA@aol.com.