The Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA) has just published its first set of formal industry recommendations for use by financiers, grantors, and filmmakers in a document entitled “Best Practices in Documentary Crediting.”
The best practices are meant to standardize crediting for documentary films across all formats, lengths and budgets and to clarify producer roles and definitions in credit discussions and negotiations.
The move reflects the evolving funding and distribution landscape for documentary projects, which has led to inconsistencies in title and end credits used to reflect such funding. One side effect, says the DPA, has been the diminished meaning and value of certain credits, reducing recognition of labor and essential industry currency.
The new guidelines were developed in collaboration with more than 100 working producers who are members of the DPA, alongside representatives from 30-plus granting and artist organizations, filmmaker alliances, investor consortia, directors and industry leaders. They were drafted at the DPA’s 2018 Getting Real conference, where crediting was the subject of a panel discussion and Q&A, and were vetted by entertainment lawyers experienced in documentary fundraising protocols and applicable tax and investor protection laws, including equity investment and non-recoupable contributions.
The best practices include financing crediting tiers to reflect the contributions of individual financiers and impose consistency across the industry, as well as a glossary of over 20 producing roles and definitions to distinguish between financing partners and day-to-day producers, while establishing a crediting hierarchy, including the newly introduced “contributing producer” credit.
As well as laying out roles, the DPA explicitly does not endorse granting producer, co-producer or associate producer credits to financiers, reserving such titles for day-to-day production duties. Additionally, the guidelines clarify that the producer role is inherent to the creative process and does not endorse the term “creative producer” in documentary credits, as it has resulted in confusion around the producer role and its crediting.
The guidelines are unenforceable and function, as their name suggests, as voluntary best practices meant as a starting place for filmmakers and their partners, who are encouraged to apply exceptions when specifics of a given project dictate a need.
“We believe these crediting guidelines will bring parity and order to an aspect of our industry that, historically, has been pretty random and chaotic,” Josh Penn (pictured), a producer and DPA member who worked on the guidelines, told realscreen. “Due to lack of standardization and common understanding, credits have lost much of their integrity and meaning, to everyone’s detriment. We hope these guidelines can serve as a corrective and provide a baseline for crediting conversations for films big and small across the industry.”