February 16, 2023
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All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew

Loring Weisenberger
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On a typical shoot, producers and their teams handle a ton of film production paperwork. However, while the avalanche of film forms and other film documents can be overwhelming, it’s also necessary. Each scrap of film paperwork serves its own unique purpose.  

In this post, we’ll break down all the film production paperwork you need to hire a crew. We’ll show you the ropes with basic definitions and give you critical film paperwork resources to jumpstart your next shoot. Below, you’ll find free film production paperwork templates, free film contracts, and much more. 

Let’s get started.

Download Wrapbook’s Essential Forms for Film (film production paperwork starter pack)

Before we get into our breakdown, take a second to download our free film production paperwork starter pack. 

The film paperwork starter pack includes all the essential film production templates, pre-production templates, free film contracts, and other film documents that you’ll need to get your next project up and running. It’s the fastest way to get your arsenal of filmmaking forms ready to go. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Essential Forms
Get all your film production paperwork in order before you begin that next project.

While you’re at it, take a quick look at Wrapbook. Our software solutions transform document management from tedious chore to powerful production tool. 

Features like digital onboarding, automated document storage, and customizable document sharing create a more secure and efficient workflow for production paperwork of all kinds. To maximize utility, Wrapbook integrates all this directly into your payroll interface, streamlining the entire crew management process from start to finish.

Check out the demo.

Core hiring forms

The first set of film production paperwork you’ll need to hire cast and crew are the film forms directly related to onboarding. These film documents will make up your startwork packets and are necessary for setting up payroll. Collecting this pre-production paperwork is a critical component of payroll tax compliance.

With traditional payroll companies, these video production forms must be collected every single time you start a new project. If you work with a crew member three times in a year, you’ll usually need to collect three separate sets of completed startwork. This is a massive waste of time for you, your production team, and every other member of your crew.

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Startwork
Wrapbook ensures that you never handle more paperwork than necessary.

With Wrapbook, however, startwork forms are automatically filed according to each crew member’s unique user profile. That means that each form only needs to be filled out and collected once per year, dramatically reducing your team’s intake of film production paperwork on each individual shoot. 

Crew deal memo

A crew deal memo is a contract between a production and a crew member. Specifically, these film production documents outline the terms of a crew member’s employment. They provide clear expectations and simple protections to both parties. They’re designed to keep everyone on the same page before, during, and after working on a project.

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Crew Deal Memo
Never start a production without a crew deal memo to ensure your entire crew is on the literal same page on project expectations.

Crew deal memos can be customized to meet your production’s unique needs, but they generally cover details like compensation, employment duration, and miscellaneous expense items. 

NDA

An NDA (short for “non-disclosure agreement”) is a contract that prohibits the signee from divulging specified information about a project. These filmmaking forms protect production companies from leaks that could damage the financial wellbeing of their projects. 

If a crew member leaks your script online after signing an NDA, they do so at their own legal peril. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Non-Disclosure Agreement
It'll be much more challenging to get those NDAs signed once you wrap, so have them handy at the outset of your production.

Generally speaking, an NDA covers intellectual property, trade secrets, sensitive data, and any other class of information that an employer deems confidential. The term of an NDA as film production paperwork is determined on a case-by-case basis and can range from a couple of days to all of eternity.

I9

The I9 is a federally-required document that verifies employment authorization. In other words, these are film forms that make sure a crew member can be legally hired to work on your shoot.

The I9 employment eligibility form should be completed, filed, and retained by a production company for each new individual that they hire. I9 Section 3 allows exceptions to be made for rehires under certain circumstances, but that doesn’t change the general principal. For any employee that you hire, you must have an I9 on file, preferably well-organized among your other film production documents. 

You can download an up-to-date I9 directly from the USCIS here.

W-4

Federal form W-4 is also known as an “Employee’s Withholding Certificate”. These video production forms document the amount that an employer or payroll company should withhold from an employee’s paycheck for federal income taxes. 

As with the I9, it is a legal requirement for production companies to maintain a W-4 in their files for each crew member they hire. A new W-4 must be filled out every year, but employees can also elect to file a new one anytime their financial situation changes. 

You can download the current W-4 directly from the IRS here.

W-9

The W-9 is the W-4 for independent contractors. This piece of film production paperwork collects the contractor’s taxpayer identification number (TIN) and other vital information. 

Production companies will then use this information during tax season to report payments to the IRS and to prepare the contractor’s Form 1099

Before you collect a W-9 instead of a W-4, be sure that you understand the worker classification tests in your state. Misclassifying an employee as a contractor is both illegal and all too easy. If you’re not careful, small errors can turn into expensive payroll mistakes

Download the federally approved W-9 here

Easily customize and select your startwork with Wrapbook

With a few clicks, Wrapbook allows you to select, customize, and send exactly the startwork you need.

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Onboarding
Wrapbook allows you to easily select only the documents you need.

Our intuitive interface enables you to quickly craft custom startwork packets by choosing from a selection of industry standard forms as well as your own custom documents. With Wrapbook, you can onboard crew faster, easier, and with fewer mistakes.

Union forms (including SAG-AFTRA)

If your production company is signatory to any union contracts, you’ll have forms specific to each union that will need to be collected. The best practice is to check in directly with your union representative. They’ll tell you exactly which video production documents you’ll need to collect. 

Have union crew? Then you'll need the appropriate union forms.

The most common union film production paperwork comes from SAG-AFTRA. To help you better understand the ins and outs of SAG’s video production documents, here are a few breakdowns from the Wrapbook blog:

If you’re working with one of the other major production unions, here are a few general guides and resources you might find useful:

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Cost Code
Know exactly what each crew member's wages and fees are for each project.

Wrapbook’s software solutions are constantly updated to meet the latest union regulations. With features like automatic calculation for certain LA IATSE and Teamster timecards, Wrapbook makes it easier than ever to pay your union crew. 

Talent release form

The talent release form is a contract that authorizes you to use a cast member’s image, voice, or any other specified features in your project. It’s a staple of film production paperwork that offers productions ‌essential legal protection. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Talent Release
Cover your bases with Wrapbook’s free talent release template.

Without an appropriate talent release form, a cast member could technically sue your production company for using their performance “without permission.”  

Fortunately, all it takes to prevent such catastrophes is a simple contract. You can see how simple it is firsthand by downloading Wrapbook’s free talent release form here.

Film forms to help you budget before production

The next set of film production paperwork templates and tools are designed to help you budget better, faster, and more efficiently. We’ll show you a pre-production template that can help you strategize your spending and a digital tool that can help you quickly identify the correct costs of union talent.

Film budget template

The financial core of any production is its budget. With Wrapbook’s free budget template, you can create your next budget with more ease and efficiency. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Film Budget Template
Download the free film budget template here.

It includes all the essential sections of a working production budget, with line-by-line examples of what to include in each one. This pre-production template will help you to both avoid and mitigate surprise expenses from pre-production to wrap. 

SAG-AFTRA agreement finder

Wrapbook’s SAG-AFTRA Agreement Finder isn’t technically film production paperwork, but it is an incredibly useful tool for streamlining your next production. It takes the complexity of the many possible SAG contracts and boils them down to a simple step-by-step process for finding the right one for your next shoot. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - SAG Agreement Finder
Identify the right SAG contract for your next shoot with Wrapbook’s Agreement Finder.

After providing a little information, the Agreement Finder can help you quickly identify the right SAG contract for your project, enabling you to hone in on the right rates for your talent. It’s a simple tool that empowers you to budget as early as possible with more efficiency and accuracy.

Pre-production templates and tools to help you manage the hiring process

When you need to crew up fast, having the right film production paperwork and tools offers a major advantage. The following film production documents streamline the crew hiring process, ensuring that you can hire the best people possible on even the tightest timeline. 

Film crew list template

A crew list is simply a list of your individual crew members. It’s one of several film production documents designed to help you stay organized in managing your project’s personnel. A typical crew list will cover each crew member’s name, title, and basic contact information. It may also list any notes about scheduling or other pertinent details. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Film Crew List
Have handy all crew information for your production with our film crew list.

You can download a free crew list template by clicking the image above, but why not take this tool to the next level? Wrapbook’s digital crew list turns a bit of simple film production paperwork into an all-in-one crew management tool. 

Wrapbook’s digital crew list

With Wrapbook, there’s no need for film production templates for your crew list. Instead, Wrapbook generates a crew list for each project automatically, creating a searchable database that revolutionizes the document’s function as a tool. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Crew Database
Wrapbook turns your crew list into a high-powered digital rolodex.

Wrapbook integrates your crew list into its payroll system, directly connecting crew info to critical tasks like running and wrapping payroll. It’s more detailed, more comprehensive, and easier-to-use than any standard crew list template you’ll find online. 

With Wrapbook’s digital crew list, your team can work faster and better without working harder. 

Film forms for peace of mind

Some video production documents are designed to reduce stress and boost confidence. These film forms include checklists to track critical tasks, contracts to provide maximum security, and much more. 

Whatever your worries, the following pre-production templates and filmmaking forms can help ensure you’ve done your due diligence and amplify your peace of mind. 

Payroll compliance checklist

Knowing exactly how to maintain payroll compliance isn’t always easy. Wrapbook’s payroll compliance checklist is a slice of film production paperwork that covers all the basics of payroll compliance 101

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Payroll Compliance Checklist
Never be in the dark about payroll compliance with Wrapbook's comprehensive checklist.

It’ll help keep you on track when classifying workers, maintaining adequate records, correctly calculating fringes, and more.

Pre-production checklist

A pre-production checklist outlines the big picture tasks of pre-production.

Pre-Production Checklist - Wrapbook - Inline Ad
Our pre-production checklist keeps you on track before your first day of filming.

It’s an easy tool for better organizing your pre-production workflow and ensuring that you aren’t forgetting any critical responsibilities. From building your first script breakdown to securing your last permit, a pre-production checklist will help you stay on track.

Risk assessment template

A risk assessment template surveys the potential hazards a production faces. It’s a tool for analyzing where a shoot’s foreseeable risks lie, in the hopes that identifying risks will make them easier to mitigate.

A risk assessment template is a simple piece of film production paperwork, but its use can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping your production company safe and secure.

Production services agreement

A production services agreement is a contract between a financier and a producer that outlines an agreed-upon plan for executing a project.

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Production Services Agreement
Get a head start on your legal needs with our film production agreement template.

The exact language of the agreement is customizable, but there are a few common items. A typical production services agreement will include a budgetary breakdown, preliminary production schedule, cash flow schedule, and a preliminary list of project deliverables. 

COI (certificate of insurance)

Certificates of insurance (COIs, for short) are vital to starting any project. COIs function as proof that you have adequate production insurance. Without them, your production won’t be able to perform basic tasks like renting equipment or booking locations.

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - COI
With Wrapbook, you can issue COIs for a project with just a few clicks.

Because COIs are issued by entertainment insurance companies, there is no pre-production template you can download. However, Wrapbook makes getting a COI even easier than a template by directly pairing production insurance with its payroll features. 

Wrapbook integrates the full services of an insurance provider into its payroll infrastructure, deploying a team of licensed and experienced brokers to support Wrapbook’s digital tools. The result is an ability to issue an COI with minimal effort through Wrapbook’s intuitive interface. 

For more information on certificates of insurance, check out our producer’s guide to COIs in film or our in-depth production insurance handbook

Other smart film paperwork to have on hand

Our final set of film production documents brings together the miscellaneous video production forms and releases that can keep your production running smoothly in a pinch. These filmmaking forms are helpful tools for efficiently handling a variety of situations that pop up from time to time. 

Media license & release

A media release form authorizes a production to use or reproduce an item of intellectual property. This is a critical piece of film production paperwork if you’re planning to use a song, a copyrighted photo, a clip from a television show, or any other licensable material within your project. 

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Media Release Form
Though each form should be modified for every licensing agreement, this media license & release form can provide a useful template.

A media license form should be modified for each act of licensing. However, there are a few details that you’ll want to be sure to cover. A media release form should outline the specific terms of the licensed material with as much detail as possible, detail the extent to which any licensing rights are granted, and define the compensation for the licensed material to the licensor.

Equipment rental release

Also known as vendor contract forms, equipment rental agreements construct a legal relationship between equipment renters and vendors. They’re contracts that mutually protect both parties against fraud, theft, and any other acts of malicious intent from the opposite party.

All the Film Production Paperwork You Need to Hire Crew - Wrapbook - Vendor Agreement Form
Make sure each piece of rented equipment has a vendor agreement form signed for your protection.

Equipment rental releases are a standard part of the gear rental process, and they’re usually provided by the rental house. However, it’s a good idea to have your own equipment rental release on hand in case you need to rent any equipment directly from a crew member. Like certificates of insurance, equipment rental releases exist to protect both the production company and the crew member.

Wrapping up

Rather than be intimidated by the beige avalanche that is film production paperwork, producers and their teams can think of these film documents as tools in a toolbox. From pre-production templates to stock contracts, each piece of film production paperwork helps you handle a distinct challenge or situation. 

And don’t forget you can use Wrapbook to optimize your workflows for filmmaking forms. Wrapbook’s automatic document storage and digital onboarding features take the pain out of film paperwork. Wrapbook makes hiring crew faster, easier, and more efficient. 

See for yourself. Check out the demo here.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Loring Weisenberger

Loring is a Los Angeles-based writer, director, and creative producer. His work has been commissioned by a diverse range of clients- from Havas Worldwide to Wisecrack, inc.- and has been screened around the world. Through a background that blends project development with physical production across multiple formats, Loring has developed a uniquely eclectic skillset as a visual storyteller.

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