Nondisclosure Agreements: What They Mean, and How They Impact Actors

Today I want to talk about a little thing in this industry called a nondisclosure agreement and what it means for you, the actor. A nondisclosure agreement, or NDA, is also known as a confidentiality agreement, and secures just that—confidential information regarding a film or television show. It is a legal contract between you and the makers of a project which outlines information pertinent to you about said project while restricting you from revealing any information to a third party. It protects everyone involved.

 You may run into an NDA first at an audition for a role. There are some projects that are so top-secret that they are “Untitled,” and you do not receive sides to prepare until you arrive at the casting office and sign the contract. This is to protect the filmmakers so that any plot lines, characters, titles, etc. aren’t released to the public. This measure is important because plot lines can be stolen and recreated in other projects, other filmmakers may get the jump on making a film or show about the same character, or it could reveal secrets—all of which may hurt sales.

Beyond protecting the project, NDAs protect the higher-ups, as well; they too sign contacts, and if any information is leaked, there are serious repercussions. For example, scripts are watermarked for each individual who receives a copy. If someone posts the script online, they can and will figure out to whom it belongs. If sides are posted, it gets tracked back to the casting director. Casting offices often have to sign NDAs before starting the casting process and are never trusted again if an actor improperly reveals information on their watch.

People often think it is overkill to have a confidentiality agreement for a movie, and that telling a family member or a friend something as little as a title or actor attached will not cause any harm. There is a reason for the contract, however, and revealing a cast member can throw the entire casting process into a tailspin. This is especially true if actors have not yet been signed to the project or if filmmakers decide they no longer want a particular actor. Revealing this information can make other actors uninterested in the project if they believe someone in particular is attached. Or, if they think someone is attached and agree to join the cast too, only to find out the person they looked forward to working with is not officially in the film, they could drop out. Even if you tell your grandma who does not even own a computer, you are still in breach of contract and it goes against ethics. If you do breach a contract, you can and will be terminated as an employee (for other career don’ts, check out our article on Why Actors Get Dropped here). You may also be legally prosecuted, and they can sue you for a lot more money than what is in your bank account. Filmmakers take their films very seriously and therefore the contracts are strictly enforced. After all, this is their job—not just their hobby. The contracts are just as upstanding as in a law firm or hospital.

Do not be discouraged or frightened if you come upon a nondisclosure agreement in your acting journey. Read the parameters, make sure you uphold your end of the bargain, and they will let you into the club.

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lauren began her casting career as an intern for Sarah Finn Casting on films such as Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, TRON: Legacy, and Faster. After her six month internship, she returned for her final semester of college, where she went on to become a casting director in Wilmington, NC on various independent films. She also spent over a year as a casting assistant with an independent casting director and acted in multiple films. She is currently working with Marcia Ross & Erin Toner Casting and also works as an actor and in production.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 13, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

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