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Zak Forsman
10-14-2008, 10:38 AM
I've seen a few posts asking about credits and thought I'd post this guide for how credits are conventionally structured. A great way to put a professional polish on your short is to do as the pros do. And so...

OPENING CREDITS
The order of credits is determined by guild rules -- SAG, the DGA, WGA and other unions. the list that follows is for opening credits.

The order in which credits are billed generally follows their importance to the film, just not linearly. First is usually the motion picture company, followed by the producer, then the 'a film by' credit. Then we see the Title followed by the cast. from there we reverse gears on the whole "order of importance" guideline and work backwards to the director...


PRODUCTION COMPANY presents
a NAME LASTNAME production
a NAME LASTNAME film
"TITLE"
Lead Cast
Supporting Cast
Casting Director
Music Composer
Costume Designer
Associate Producers
Editor(s)
Production Designer
Director of Photography
Executive Producer
Producer
Writer(s)
Director

if the writer and director are the same person, or the director was also a producer, hold his earlier credit and pair it with the more prestigious one (in this case "director"). so you would place "Written and Directed by" or "Produced and Directed by" or "Edited and Directed by" where the Director's credit goes. if your Dp was also your editor, you'd have "Editor and Director of Photography..." falling in the position where the DP credit goes. et cetera.

CLOSING CREDITS
Closing credits do not have any hard and fast rules that dictate how they need to be ordered. But there are conventions that have been established. If you intend to have no opening credits (something George Lucas left the DGA over) you basically put the Director, Writer and Producer credits first, then go down the line for the closing credits:


Director
Writer(s)
Producer
Executive Producer
Lead Cast
Supporting Cast
Director of Photography
Production Designer
Editor(s)
Associate Producers
Costume Designer
Music Composer
Casting Director

***if you credited the above in the opening, closing credits begin here ***

Unit Production Manager
First Assistant Director
Second Assistant Director
Full Cast / Character List
Stunt Dept
Production Departments (Grip, Electric, Camera, Sound, Wardrobe, etc)
Post-Production Departments (Assistant Editors, Visual Effects, Colorist, etc)
Song Credits
Caterer
Title Designer
Special Thanks
Camera, Lenses and Equipment Makers
Location of Final Sound Mix ("Recorded at...")
Copyright
Disclaimer

special consideration is given for "name" actors, often they are credited just before the title comes up. and again, you have a lot of wiggle room with closing credits. some films credit the entire cast first, before the director. you have options here.

THE DISCLAIMER
Here is a standard motion picture disclaimer...

"PERSON'S NAME OR PRODUCTION COMPANY" is the author of this motion picture for the purpose of copyrght and other laws.

This motion picture is protected pursuant to the provisions of the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any unauthorized duplication, distribution and/or exhibition of this motion picture may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

Characters and incidents portrayed and the names herein are fictitious, and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

No animals were harmed in the making of this film.


PRODUCTION LOGO
if you have an Animated Production Company Logo, place that at the very beginning, before your credits. it's the first thing we see. some studios/production companies will tag the logo on at the very end too.

BREVITY
Now, it's important to note that on a short film, many of the roles you see above were handled by one person. I've been to a few film festivals and there is nothing more likely to induce a collective groan, and lose a few fans in the process, than a tedious string of credits on a five minute film... especially if the same names keep popping up. and I'll tell you why. at festivals, shorts are programmed in blocks of 90 to 120 minutes. no one in the audience cares who did what. so waiting thru two minutes of white test scrolling against black is pretty miserable for everyone. it also does a disservice to your fellow filmmaker. shorts blocks thrive on momentum. I've seen people leave the theater over because of long credits. in particular, I sat through a 22 minute film followed by 6 minutes of very detailed credits. HALF the theater left before my film screened. half.

The best advice I can give here is that if you were the writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editer... just go with the most important titles (in this case... "written and directed by...", dropping any credit for your editing or cinematography. Or maybe "a film by..." is enough. Didn't have a casting director and held scheduled the auditions yourself? skip it. And even if you had a crew of 20-30 people, move through those credits as quickly as possible. When you are watching a short film, a minute worth of credits feels like an eternity. move, baby, move!

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 10:47 AM
Great post!

Yah, I wear many hats so I just sum it up like this... a Film by Michael Anthony Horrigan

That title includes; Writing, Gaffer, DOP, Directing, Editing, etc... I actually just sent off a PM earlier today asking about credits.
I was wondering why we are not allotted 15 seconds solely for the purpose of credits.
I'm under my six minute time limit but could use extra time for credits. Otherwise they will fly by in the six or so seconds I have left over.

Cheers,

Mike

Robbie Comeau
10-14-2008, 10:53 AM
Thanks Zak.

Robbie

ConspiracyPenguin
10-14-2008, 11:41 AM
Great guide, Zak. I actually had a question about credits that I was going to pose, perhaps I should do it here:

Robbie gave me a short opening scene that he had written and asked me if I had any ideas concerning where the plot should go. It could have gone anywhere, but I came up with an idea that he liked and he asked me to write it. I did some polishing up for the one scene he had done and finished the script. Now I have found someone to film it and I want to know how to credit Robbie. We feel he should get something but we can't figure out what. I was going to bill it as "Written By: Nick Lane and Robbie Comeau" but he thinks that is giving him too much credit (which it kind of is) and he wouldn't feel right about that. Any suggestions?

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 11:44 AM
Great guide, Zak. I actually had a question about credits that I was going to pose, perhaps I should do it here:

Robbie gave me a short opening scene that he had written and asked me if I had any ideas concerning where the plot should go. It could have gone anywhere, but I came up with an idea that he liked and he asked me to write it. I did some polishing up for the one scene he had done and finished the script. Now I have found someone to film it and I want to know how to credit Robbie. We feel he should get something but we can't figure out what. I was going to bill it as "Written By: Nick Lane and Robbie Comeau" but he thinks that is giving him too much credit (which it kind of is) and he wouldn't feel right about that. Any suggestions?
How about... Story by Robbie and The Penguin. Written by The Penguin.

Zak Forsman
10-14-2008, 11:56 AM
I can tell you exactly what to do, but first i need to know what percentage of the screenplay is comprised of that scene Robbie wrote. less that 33%?

Luis Caffesse
10-14-2008, 12:06 PM
Good info, Zak.

Here's a question though - in many cases we have entries where one or two people did everything.
What would you do in those scenarios?

I've always felt a bit cheesy listing my own name 10 times over.
Thoug having credits that only credit a few major roles might make it seem as if we're not giving others their due (when in fact there are no 'others).

Just curious how other people approach that situation.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 12:25 PM
Good info, Zak.

Here's a question though - in many cases we have entries where one or two people did everything.
What would you do in those scenarios?

I've always felt a bit cheesy listing my own name 10 times over.
Thoug having credits that only credit a few major roles might make it seem as if we're not giving others their due (when in fact there are no 'others).

Just curious how other people approach that situation.

I think he covered that a bit here...



The best advice I can give here is that if you were the writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editer... just go with the most important titles (in this case... "written and directed by...". Or maybe "a film by..." is enough. Don't have a casting director? skip it. And even if you had a crew of 20-30 people, move through those credits as quickly as possible. When you are watching a short film, a minute worth of credits feels like an eternity. move, baby, move!

I go with "A Film by..."

Cheers,

Mike

Luis Caffesse
10-14-2008, 12:29 PM
Doh!
Thanks, Michael.

stinkpot
10-14-2008, 12:34 PM
Just thinking about this very subject.

Great post.... and yes, "move, baby, move!"
:beer:

AmyO
10-14-2008, 12:40 PM
Thanks for the post, Zach. I, too, believe in the "a film by" philosophy of credits on a small film. Most people will assume that person did everything not specifically attributed to someone else in the credits, particularly writing and editing.

John LaBonney
10-14-2008, 12:44 PM
My credits run a bit long, but I insist on crediting everyone that worked on the film.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 12:47 PM
My credits run a bit long, but I insist on crediting everyone that worked on the film.What's your movie cut at? Just curious. I've got about 6 seconds for credits. Thankfully there are not that many people to thank. :)

ConspiracyPenguin
10-14-2008, 01:08 PM
I can tell you exactly what to do, but first i need to know what percentage of the screenplay is comprised of that scene Robbie wrote. less that 33%?

I can get you a pretty exact percentage if you would like, but it is definitely under 33%. Under 20% even.

John LaBonney
10-14-2008, 01:09 PM
Current cut (including the dvxuser leader) is 6:05, so I still have a few seconds to spare. The end credits run embarrassingly long.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 01:14 PM
Current cut (including the dvxuser leader) is 6:05, so I still have a few seconds to spare. The end credits run embarrassingly long.But we can't go over 6 minutes with the film including credits so they can't run too long. We can ignore the leader time though.





All films must be no longer than six minutes (6:00) total (including credits).



So you currently have about 5 seconds for credits.
6:05 - 10 seconds for the leader = 5:55.

Zak Forsman
10-14-2008, 01:14 PM
Nick and Robbie,

if you want to follow WGA policy, you would do the following. Because Robbie did not write a full screenplay (just a pitch and a scene), then it would follow that if Robbie's scene is less than 33% of the material in the finished screenplay, credit would be...

Story by Robbie Comeau

Screenplay by Nick Lane

if the remnants of his original scene comprises more than 33% of the a screenplay, credit would be...

Story by Robbie Comeau

Screenplay by Nick Lane and Robbie Comeau

some notes: if you guys would say you wrote as a team, you would use an "&" instead of an "and" between your names. But if you wrote separately, you use the "and". and if you guys want to share the "story" and "screenplay" credit, that's where you would only use "Written by Nick Lane & Robbie Comeau", per WGA policy. No story or screenplay credit needed then. because the definition of "written by" is that the writer or writer team wrote an original work that was not rewritten.

It seems to me that the first scenario is what you would do if you want to emulate what the guild would have you do. basically, Robbie wrote a treatment (story by). then he wrote a scene. then nick wrote the rest. if Robbie had written 33% of the script or more, he'd be entitled to a screenplay credit too.

John LaBonney
10-14-2008, 01:18 PM
But we can't go over 6 minutes with the film including credits so they can't run too long. We can ignore the leader time though.



So you currently have about 5 seconds for credits.
6:05 - 10 seconds for the leader = 5:55.

What I mean is my film is running 6:05, including credits and dvxuser leader.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 01:19 PM
What I mean is my film is running 6:05, including credits and dvxuser leader.Ahhh.... got you. So... how long are your credits?

ConspiracyPenguin
10-14-2008, 01:19 PM
Thanks, Zak. One question though: since I came up with most of the story, should my name be under "Story By" as well?

John LaBonney
10-14-2008, 01:25 PM
Ahhh.... got you. So... how long are your credits?

I'm going to invoke my fifth amendment rights on that question..

I know that when viewing starts I'm going to get a lot of flak for the length of the credits, but I don't care. These people all donated their time and their skills to this production, and as long as I have anything to say about it, they're going to get screen credit.

I didn't credit myself over and over as in "Written by John LaBonney," "Directed by John LaBonney," "Edited by John LaBonney," "Storyboards by John LaBonney," etc. etc. etc. But for a six-minute short, the credits do run long.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 01:29 PM
I'm going to invoke my fifth amendment rights on that question..

I know that when viewing starts I'm going to get a lot of flak for the length of the credits, but I don't care. These people all donated their time and their skills to this production, and as long as I have anything to say about it, they're going to get screen credit.

I didn't credit myself over and over as in "Written by John LaBonney," "Directed by John LaBonney," "Edited by John LaBonney," "Storyboards by John LaBonney," etc. etc. etc. But for a six-minute short, the credits do run long.Understood. Maybe just throw some of them in before the movie starts... a Film by John LaBonney. That might help.

Cheers,

Mike

Zak Forsman
10-14-2008, 01:39 PM
Thanks, Zak. One question though: since I came up with most of the story, should my name be under "Story By" as well?

i see, so he didn't have the full story yet. But he did provide the source material for your script. If he only wrote a scene and you did everything else, it would be...

Based on a XXXXXXX by Robbie Comeau (where XXXXX is "novel", "screenplay", "scene", "play", "notion", "article", etc.[/b]

Written by Nick Lane

you're not supposed to use "Written by" when there is source material of a "story" nature. but because there was only a scene, you can use "Written by".

ZazaCast
10-14-2008, 02:02 PM
Zak...Thank you! I've always wondered if there was any rhyme or reason involved. This is a keeper. Thank you again!

Drew Ott
10-14-2008, 02:06 PM
Thanks Zak.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 02:12 PM
i see, so he didn't have the full story yet. But he did provide the source material for your script. If he only wrote a scene and you did everything else, it would be...

based on a XXXXXXX by Robbie Comeau (where XXXXX is "novel", "screenplay", "scene", "play", "notion", "article", etc.[/b]

Written by Nick Lane


If Robbie only came up with <20% of the story is it correct to give him full story rights?
Or should it be...

Based on a XXXXXXXXX by Robbie Comeau and Nick Lane.

Written by Nick Lane.

Just curious. Thanks again for this, great insight.

Mike

Zak Forsman
10-14-2008, 03:00 PM
well, he's not getting story credit in that scenario. "based on" credits his scene as source material. they can stick any word they want in place of XXXXXX -- be it "Scene", or "Material" or "Notion". and "Written by" covers Nick for story by and screenplay by. if Nick didn't use "Written by" is would go as follows...

Based on a scene by Robbie Comeau

Screen Story by Nick Lane

Screenplay by Nick Lane

What this tells us is that Robbie's scene is the source material. Nick developed a new story based off it. which makes it a "Screen Story by" credit rather than a "Story by" credit. but Nick can collapse that credit into his "Screenplay by" credit by using the all encompassing "Written by" because his story differs significantly from Robbie's source material.

from WGA --
SCREEN STORY BY: Credit for story authorship in the form "Screen Story by" is appropriate when the screenplay is based upon source material and a story, as those terms are defined above, and the story is substantially new or different from the source material.

Zak Forsman
10-14-2008, 03:05 PM
added at standard "disclaimer " to the first post.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
10-14-2008, 03:06 PM
well, he's not getting story credit in that scenario. "based on" credits his scene as source material. they can stick any word they want in place of XXXXXX -- be it "Scene", or "Material" or "Notion". and "Written by" covers Nick for story by and screenplay by. if Nick didn't use "Written by" is would go as follows...

Based on a scene by Robbie Comeau

Screen Story by Nick Lane

Screenplay by Nick Lane

Perfect! That makes sense.

Thanks again. Very useful information.

Mike

ConspiracyPenguin
10-14-2008, 03:09 PM
Thanks for all your help, Zak. I will pass this on to the director. I really appreciate it! :)

HKB
04-12-2017, 07:55 AM
In a documentary film what would you call someone that made contact with people to be interviewed? He was the go to guy to get people interested
in the project and being a part of the interview process, but rarely scheduled anyone. Any ideas?

Zak Forsman
04-12-2017, 11:06 AM
on the docs I've worked on, that role fell to one or more of the producers.

HKB
04-12-2017, 11:42 AM
Okay, he is a co-producer, thought I could give him another credit. Thanks!