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Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Bling’s Cool, Sure, But They All Got That Zing

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm

                A few years back I was quoted in a local paper as professing that entertainment law is just “contract law with a zing.” And it seemed true enough at the time.

                Spending the last few days with my Film Florida friends and colleagues and buffing my many rough edges in anticipation of the glitz and red carpet bling of tonight’s Legends Awards in Boca Raton, I can say that, yes, the zing is still there. Heck, we’ll be celebrating the career of Burt Reynolds, hero of mine since he saved those city slickers on the Cahulawassee River in Deliverance way back in 1972 (although I was a bit perturbed when he hooked up with my high school dream crush Sally Field in those Smokey and the Bandit movies). That’s zing, for sure.

                Watching a young creative visionary wrangle his or her independent film project or television pilot from concept to release and distribution is about as professionally fulfilling as it gets. Chasing, and catching, music business con-men who prey on the dreams of child performers and their families provide particularly gratifying satisfaction. Creatives are passionate folks, fun to advise and counsel. I appreciate their willingness to put up with the stodgy gray-haired lawyer in the room.

                But, you know what? The entertainment stuff is only part of what I do. As I sat listening to a retired couple replay for the horrors of a recent flood of sewage in their beach getaway condo and the incredible failures of those who could have prevented the damage with reasonable diligence, I realized these folks are just as passionate as any musician or television producer I have ever represented. And the lady who borrowed money from her employer to care for her sick husband only to be sued when the company was sold to a new and less compassionate owner? Her story of sacrifices and setbacks in the face of overwhelming odds itself seems worthy of a Hollywood script. Or the dashing young Army private I told you about last week, the one who has a dream of building his own clothing company. His story has drama, anticipated conflict, tough odds. Yes, it has zing.

                Time and perspective have finally impressed upon me that the bling is cool and all, I’ll take it, but the “zing” is personal to each and every client.  And that makes this job very very cool. So to all my clients, the writers and the plumbers, the producers and the convenience store owners, the landscapers and the film directors, I say thanks for sharing your zing and trusting it with me.

               All the best.

               Bill Yanger

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Before The Dam Breaks…

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

               I spent some time on the phone today with an old client, let’s call him Mike, who is considering going into business with his son. Mike is one of the smartest guys I know. He told me so. He can ask more questions in 20 minutes than anyone I know. Insightful questions with complex answers. Elementary questions with obvious answers. Doesn’t matter, he asks because he wants to know. No problem here, I say, ask away.

              Now, Mike has run a successful business of his own for 25 years. He’s been through the wars – regulation, litigation, sky-high sales numbers in good times and scary low revenues in bad times. He’s savvy, flexible and, significantly, he understands that he does not have all the answers, in spite of his experience. He plans ahead, expecting sunshine while planning for thunder storms, so to speak. Mike runs his business prophylactically, that is to say, he takes affirmative steps to prevent problems before they become problems.

               Oh, how I wish more clients were like Mike. Don’t get me wrong. If a client has a problem, say a lawsuit or a bad contract or a souring relationship with a business partner, I’m happy to discuss necessary action, available alternatives and possible avenues for resolution. That’s my job essentially. But I’d much rather be spending that time and energy and, frankly, his money creating protections and shields from potential problems ahead of time.

               I suppose what I am trying to convey is this: we are just as good at structuring plans and processes designed to prevent a crisis as we are at steering you through one after it happens. Sit down with us before the wall cracks or the dam breaks. You may find you’ll sleep better at night. I know Mike does. He told me so.

              All the best.

              Bill Yanger