When do you need–or not need–A prenup?

In a perfect world, everyone would feel comfortable initiating a friendly, down-to-earth, get-to-know-you conversation with potential colleagues.

But filmmakers and faith-rooted partners approach their work, and each other, from deeply personal perspectives. That is true whether they’re secular or religious or something else; whether they have a strong point of view on a social issue or still are on a truth-seeking journey; whether they’ve devoted a lifetime to this work or are parachuting in (as some filmmakers do).

The deeper or longer your relationship is likely to be, the more helpful a Prenup will be. Taking the time to build some understanding and trust is a great way to start. Browse through the Prenups and decide which themes will make the most sense for your situation. The Prenups are a personal process, not a digital dashboard.

You may also realize that your interactions will be so simple—say, if a congregation is just interested in screening a film once, with a minimum amount of fanfare—that you don’t need anything more than a simple distribution agreement.

Whatever the case, exploring some of these questions up front will go a long way to having a fruitful relationship.

When do you need—or not need—a Prenup?

A prenup will be HELPFUL when...

People from different cultures, industries, or work styles come together. It’s vital to sort out each party’s commitments and needs.

A lot of planning is involved. Like most activities that help us connect meaningfully, using film effectively takes planning, ideally toward some kind of shared vision. Articulating expectations along the way can be invaluable.

Filmmakers and faith leaders have questions to ask and decisions to make around money, time, and power. These can be touchy topics, and a Prenup can help people navigate them successfully.

You may not need a prenup if...

The faith-rooted group is working directly with the film’s distributor and all the terms are contractual.

The filmmaker or their impact producer is not involved in the event, framing, or outcomes.

The focus is around exhibition of the film, and the only mutual concern is the licensing agreement.

“A prenup in a Christian marriage can prevent injustice and protect the vulnerable (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Among progressive Jews, a signed Ketubah states the responsibilities of partners, one to one another, on an egalitarian footing. The Nikah details the conditions among a Muslim couple that will govern their relationship, even if the union breaks down. All of those documents have witnesses…because they are not alone. They are in community. A Prenup for Partners can help us be in right relationship from the start.”

—JUDITH HELFAND, FILMMAKER

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