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4 Steps on How to Create a Freelance Animation Contract

“Until the contract is signed, nothing is real”

Glenn Danzig, an American singer, songwriter, musician, film director, and record producer.

Glenn Danzig speaks from experience as he built his career in a creatively cutthroat environment. This is similar to the animation industry.

It is extremely competitive so you need to have your skills up to date so that you can stay an asset to your animation clients. 

So why do you need to make an animation contract? It is essential to protect yourself and your freelance animation business.

A clear and concise animation contract is the easiest way to do that.

In this blog post, we discuss with you how to create an animation contract for freelance animators. We will have a look at animation contract samples and animation contract templates.

a client signing an animation contract from an animator

By Cytonn Photography via unsplash.com

1. Who Creates the Animation Contract?

Whether you or the client provide the freelance animation contract it is essential to make the terms clear

The contract is meant to provide surety and security for both parties involved. 

A great way to ensure this is for the animation contract to be straightforward when it comes to the payment terms, dates, usage rights, and ownership of any originals. 

If your animation clients do not want to sign a contract it is worth thinking twice about doing business with them. It is a warning sign that they will probably not live up to their end of your verbal agreement.

If You Provide the Animation Contract 

Have a standard animation contract that can be applied to all of your animation clients. This helps to keep you and your animation clients to a certain standard of professionalism. 

In the long run, you will easily be able to tweak your animation contract to suit your client’s needs.

That being said, ensure that all terms are understood and agreed upon by both you and your animation clients. 

There are a few terms to look out for when creating and signing an animation contract.

  • Make sure that you are not signing away any of your rights to ownership. 
  • Working hours must be stipulated. Your project deadlines must be listed and clearly set.
  • The payment method, amount, and date payable must be stipulated on the animation contract.
  • Finally, make sure you obtain a fully signed copy of the contract. It is essential for your client to have a fully signed contract as well. 

If the Animation Client Provides the Contract

Even if the animation client provides a contract you must still provide your own animation contract for your client to sign.

This is the best way that you can protect yourself from any misunderstanding. Having your own animation contract will also help to flesh out any discrepancies within your client’s contract.

It is a good idea for a lawyer to check the language in both your and your client’s animation contracts. 

Ensure that you understand all of the terms and conditions. Always check the rights of ownership.

Make sure there are no conflicts with your professional ethics. 

Once again, ensure that both you and your animation client receive a fully signed copy of each contract.

If Both You and the Client Provide Animation Contracts

Firstly, have a lawyer look over your animation client’s contract. A lawyer can help to look for any conflicting clauses.

Make sure that you agree to all of the terms and conditions of the animation contract. Ensure that the terms and conditions in your client’s animation contract do not conflict with the terms and conditions in your animation contract.

Stipulate the start and end date of the contract. It helps with clarity if you list the kind of work you will be doing. It helps to do list each project separately. 

Then you must always give the amounts payable with the method and pay date. This must be stated for each animation project or item agreed to in the contract. It is a good idea to keep all things concerning payment clear and concise. 

The name and business details of your freelance animation business must be clearly stated. The name and business details of your animation client must also be clearly stated. This will help to avoid any fraudulent activity. It will also help for good business practice and record keeping. 

The user rights, copyrighting and liability must be stipulated. There must be no infringement on the ethics of the professional conduct of both parties. It needs to be clear what the terms agreed upon are. 

Will you be able to use any of the final products? And are you allowed to use it in your portfolio? Both you and your animation client need to know who is entitled to the ownership of the products.

Both you and your animation client must receive a fully signed copy of both contracts.

an online animation contract that can be signed even from your phone

Kelly Skkema via unsplash.com

2. Tips on Where to Find a Freelance Animation Contract

There are a few websites that offer templates of animation contracts. You can use one of these. Or you can work from there to create your own contract. 

Freelance Animation Contracts 

Here are a few websites that will help you to construct your own animation contract. Most of them have templates that you can use as-is.

Pros of Using an Online Animation Contract

  • Ease of Accessibility 

Most of the hard work is done so that you can browse for the freelance animation contract that suits your animation business.

You can find these contracts with ease and with speed. There is no lawyer consultation so that an animation contract can be drawn up.

  • Creates Quick Business

Online contracts can be signed online. This is fantastic for business as it eliminates the need for a courier.

With written or printed animation contracts the documents need to be couriered to the client and then couriered back to the animator.

  • Increases Contract Accuracy

If the animation client has missed a signature. Or if you have missed a signature it becomes no big deal. Sending the document to each party is simple and easy.

The online animation contract will also come with prompts. If an initial, signature or any needed information is overlooked the document will prompt action.

  • Saves Time and Money

The animation contract can be shared directly with your animation clients. 

The contracts are also kept in a repository for your future reference. 

But the biggest money and time saver is that no hard copy needs to be handled. This eliminates the cost and time spent waiting for your animation contracts to be couriered. 

  • Improves Animation Customer Service

Using online contracts helps you to connect digitally with your animation client. Your animation business will be seen as keeping up with the times. 

Cons of Using an Online Animation Contract

  • Storage Restrictions

The downside is that online contract services have limited storage facilities. This means that they might not be able to keep all of your online animation contracts saved.

You might need to save your online animation contracts with another source. The safety of your client’s information is always a concern. 

When working with an online animation contract service make sure to enquire about the online capacity. As well as their ability to work according to the Defence standards. The Defence standards are rules put in place by the Federal Government. 

These are set out to protect personal information and safeguard personal information on the internet.

  • Unassured Security

The security issue revolves around the electronic signature. You need to work with an online service that does its utmost to protect the integrity of online signatures. 

That being said, most of the online animation contract services will have security measures in place. There might be a pin or password needed for the animation client. Even you will need a pin or password to access the online animation contract.

  • Proprietary Software Dependence 

This can be a problem if you do not want your freelance animation business to be dependent on any third party. 

Ensure that the online service you use works according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for signature standards

3. Requirements of a Contract for Animators

Three Types of Animation Contracts

  • Full-time employment - usually the animator works on the premises of the animation client
  • Freelance animator - when you create your own product. You might work externally or come into the office occasionally
  • Contracted animator - when you are contracted by an animation client for a specific project. This will become their property.

What is the Difference Between an Animation Contract and a Standard Contract?

The main difference between an animation contract and a standard contract is that an animation contract is project-based. 

This means that you as a freelance animator will only be employed for the duration of a particular project.

You might be re-hired for more projects with the same company.

Where a standard contract offers fixed-term employment. Usually about a year, with an opportunity for renewal. This sometimes comes after a performance review.

An Animation Contract is Often Referred to as a Contract for Services.

  • Parties involved

A freelance contract is set up by a company and a freelance animator for services. These services include 2D animation, illustration, video work, and other animation services.

You as an animator are referred to as a third-party because you are not an official employee of the company.

As a freelance animator, you do not qualify for company benefits during your contractual agreement.

  • Control

The hiring company or your animation client does not have any control over you. As a freelance animator, you generally work to deadlines. And you are able to work flexy hours.

  • Intellectual Property - Purpose and Ownership

Companies will hire a freelance animator for a specific project with the intention of owning the work created. 

They buy the ownership of your work when they pay you for your animation services. 

Some examples of this are

  • A company will hire an animator to develop a website. Particularly artwork or graphics for the site.
  • A company might hire a photographer to showcase its new range of products.
  • A film producer can hire an animation artist for a movie or series.

Standard Contract or Contract of Services

  • Parties Involved

When a company hires someone as an employee for their services. 

This person is an employee and is allowed to enjoy the benefits the company offers. These can include health care and a car allowance.

  • Control

The company is entitled to all of the work created by the employee. The employee must follow the rules and requirements of the company.

  • Intellectual Property - Ownership

The company is entitled to all of the work created by its employees. 

That being said, if the employee creates an invention then the ownership lies with the employee. For the company to obtain ownership of any employee invention additional clauses will need to be added to their contract.

It will also need to be agreed upon by both parties. 

With all of that said, the main question still remains. How do you create an animation contract? 

Steps for the Animation Contract Layout

Here are the basic items that need to be mentioned in an animation contract.

Animation Production Services

  1. Description of services
  2. Standard of services
  3. Deliverables
  4. Other terms
  5. Script, storyboard, and illustration delivery
  6. Video revision acceptance
  7. Deadlines
  8. Satisfaction guarantee with unlimited revisions
  9. Revision conditions

Warranty, Disclaimer, and Limitation of Liability

  1. Warranty disclaimer
  2. Damages limitation
  3. Limitation of liability
  4. Risk allocation

Payment Terms and Taxes

  1. Compensation
  2. Additional payment terms
  3. Taxes
  4. Deposits 

Ownership Provisions

  1. Animation companies intellectual property
  2. Deliverables
  3. Customer data

Confidential Information

  1. Protection of confidential information
  2. Definition of confidential information

Indemnification 

  1. Indemnity
  2. Indemnification procedures

Term and Termination

  1. Term of agreement
  2. Termination for breach
  3. Obligations upon termination
  4. Remedies for breach of agreement
  5. Survival provisions 

General

  1. Relationship between parties
  2. Governing law
  3. Venue and jurisdiction provisions
  4. Binding arbitration
  5. Notices
  6. Severability 
  7. Force majeure 
  8. Entire agreement
  9. Modifications
  10. Headings
  11. Assignment
  12. Waiver
  13. Benefit
  14. Lawyer’s fees
  15. No presumption
  16. Counterparts

For contracts to be legally binding you need to have all parties be in agreement. Usually made by one party and accepted by the other. 

There must be something of value exchanged which is the animation service that you offer to your animation clients.  

Services provided by freelance animators can include things like illustration, 2D animation, videos, and more.

Both parties need to agree to all terms stated in the contract. There needs to be an offer made and accepted. 

You need to decide if any of your terms are negotiable. 

How long does the offer stay open? So when does the contract need to be signed before the offer expires? 

An Animation Contract will be Void in the Following Circumstances 

In a few cases, the animation contract can be seen as void or invalid

If there were threats or coercion of parties to signing the animation contract - threats can be made to disrupt or destroy a freelancer’s reputation.

Either the animation client or you were under undue influence. This is when one party is more dominant - This can be when a major company bullies a freelance animator into doing something they are not comfortable with.

Mistakes in the contract are found that will prevent you as the freelance animator or the animation client from fulfilling their duties - impossible expectations like deadlines that do not make sense. 

Either party breaches the agreements in the animation contract - if either you as the freelance animator or the animation client do not live up to terms agreed upon in the animation contract.

If the contractual agreement is illegal - if there is any illegal activity expected.

If the terms of the animation contract are hard to understand. Or if the agreement is unrealistic - if any terms are ambiguous and hard to understand. Things can be taken the wrong way. 

There is a lack of consideration for either party - if the animation contract is pro one party and does not work in the favor of the other party. 

Fraud is committed through any false information - if the animation client gives any false information about the business details. Or if you as a freelance animator give any false information.

an animator who is signing their own animation contract

Romain Dancre via unsplash.com

4. How to Know if Your Animation Contract is Valid

You do not necessarily need a lawyer to create a legally binding freelance animation contract. 

That being said, there are certain requirements that every contract needs to meet. A lawyer knows all of the jargon and how a contract needs to be presented

It is a good idea to have a lawyer look over the animation contract that you put together. A lawyer will help ensure that your animation contract is laid out correctly. 

There is some wording and certain phrases that are essential for making your contract binding

A lawyer will make sure that your contract can stand up in court if need be.

They will also be able to pick up if there are any hidden clauses in an animation client’s contracts and ensure that you understand all of the rems correctly.

You can use a lawyer to check that your contracts are sound. And that the client contracts you sign are sound.

Here are a few things that contribute to an animation contract.

Consideration

Having the best interests of each party at heart when setting up the animation contract.

Offer and Acceptance 

There needs to be a clear stipulation of what is being offered. And a clear acceptance or denial of the animation service.

Legal Purpose

The intention of the agreement is not to break the law. An unlawful agreement will not be found legally binding in court.

Capable Parties

The concerned parties must be of age and understanding of the animation contract.

Mutual Assent

Both animation parties must be in agreement.

two parties in signing an animation contract in agreement

By Sebastian Herrmann via unsplash.com

How to Make an Animation Contract for Your Clients

“A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”

Samuel Goldwyn, American Flim Producer

It is essential to have a freelance animation contract for each of your animation clients. 

You need to make your professional intentions clear and understood. When setting up an animation contract you need to set your terms for the animation project. 

As a freelance animator, you must make sure that you protect your best interests for each job that you take on.

Remember to only sign a contract that you fully agree to. Understand what points you are negotiable on what which ones you are not. 

If you want extra tips on creating a freelance animation contract. Or to help you develop your business skills as an animator have a look at our free masterclass and free marketing handbook.

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