Accord animation
Sébastien Lachaussée & Elisa Martin-Winkel

Sébastien Lachaussée & Elisa Martin-Winkel

A major agreement for French animation

During the 2023 edition of the Annecy Animation Film Festival, the unions of producers and authors announced an agreement on contractual practices in animation, which came into force on 1 September 2023.

The latter follows on from the agreement for audio-visual fictions and reflects the same desire to establish a framework for author-producer collaborations, to provide minimum remuneration and to set up binding definitions of the stages of development.  

It should be noted that the scope of the agreement covers all French assignment of rights agreement in the field of audiovisual animation, but that cinematographic animated films are excluded.

The agreement is very dense, and we propose below a summary of the main provisions.

1 – General principles 

The agreement details several principles, framing the relationship between authors and producers, including the following. 

The order of the “argument” or « Pitch » is subject of a paid order to the scriptwriter in compliance with a template annexed to the agreement – the Pitch is at most half a page. The remuneration is acquired by the scriptwriter even if the broadcaster refused the project. If the broadcaster accepts the project, such remuneration is deducted from the first payment of the corresponding episode.

Following the Pitch, an order and assignment of rights, or an option contract must be concluded, with both the literary and graphic authors before any presentation of the project to a broadcaster,

To trace all the stages of writing/graphic creation, producers must include genealogical sheets of the literary bible and the graphic bible in the agreements – templates are annexed to the agreement.

The deadlines for the submission of works are framed: the deadlines must be contractually established according to a principle of proportionality consistent with the production schedule. The delay of the author may lead to the addition of co-author or the replacement of the author.

In the event of a dispute about the audiovisual production contract, the screenwriters and producers will have to resort to a mediation before AMAPA prior any judicial litigations.

2 – New lexicon 

The agreement incorporates a comprehensive, binding and strictly enforceable lexicon. Thus, the addition to a definition of adjectives (such as « developed », « synthetic » etc. « ) cannot circumvent or change the scope of the given definitions.

This lexicon details the writing steps, but also the format of the texts and the number of maximum versions that can be ordered by the producer.

For example:

   – The “synopsis” refers to a text that develops the story as a whole, from beginning to end: the themes, the structure of the story with the main twists and the trajectories of the characters

   – “Treatment” refers to the text developing the story in a linear and detailed manner, prior it is divided in sequences.

   – The “sequencer” refers to a text presenting an ordered list of numbered sequences which forms the dramatic construction of the narrative and contains all the dialogues (except for silent work) and didascalies intended to be transposed into animated images.

The volumes of documents are established according to whether it is the writing of an episode or an individual work – the agreement provides for a minimum and maximum volume for each stage.

As an example for a synopsis it will be:

    – At least 0.3 pages and at most 1 page for a 3’ episode.

    – At least 1 page and at most 2 pages for a 7’ episode

    – At least 2 pages and at most 5 pages for a 26’ episode

    – At least 3 pages and at most 10 pages for a 90’ episode

A « page » corresponds to 3000 characters – with a margin of 10%.

It is agreed that the assignment of right must provide for the number of possible versions of each document within the limit of 6 versions for a synopsis, 5 versions for a treatment, a sequence or a dialogued screenplay.

In addition to the definitions of the different stages of writing, the agreement defines the terms « literary bible » and « graphic bible » by listing the objective of these documents: to define the permanent elements that are essential to the development of a series and the components of such bibles.

The agreement also considers the specificities of graphic authors and author-directors.

It is thus provided that the order of graphic tests upstream of the graphic bible must be established by a contract, without conferring the quality of author of the graphic bible to the graphic artist, a producer must inform the graphic artist prior presenting his references and previous work to a broadcaster and the competition of graphic artists on a project must be detailed to them prior any negotiation.

The agreement also highlights the importance of developing a directing bible as part of animated series to detail staging choices and animation style and direction. This bible is created by the author-director in a staggered manner, but its final constitution is validated at the term of the realization of the first episode.

3 – Remuneration 

The agreement :

    – Establishes that the remuneration of an author provided for in assignment includes at least 30% of bonus for unpublished original works.

    – Defines and makes mandatory an additional remuneration after amortization of the cost of the work in as an increase in the proportional rate of remuneration. This additional remuneration is negotiated by mutual agreement between author and producer. If the author receives another form of additional remuneration, this increase becomes optional.

    – To facilitate the monitoring of remuneration, a summary sheet of the elements necessary for the calculation of the author’s remuneration must be included in each contract and a template is available.

The producer must pay the remuneration of the screenwriters according to the payment steps included in the agreement depending on type of order. As an example, for of a 2-step order (synopsis or sequence then dialogued screenplay) the payment schedule is as follows:

    – 10% including the amount allocated to the pitch at the signing of the order agreement.

    – 40% to be divided between the delivery of the first version and the acceptance of the synopsis or sequencer.

    –  50% to be divided between the delivery of the first version and the acceptance of the dialogued screenplay.

Finally, the agreement provides for minimum remuneration for screenwriters of animated series with a gradual increase between 2023 and 2026.

For example, for the year 2023 the minimum remuneration is 2160 € for an episode of 7 ‘, 3024 € for an episode of 13 ‘and 5940 € for an episode of 26 ‘.

Considering the wide scope of the agreement and its many specificities, to establish, negotiate or control the legality of the organization of the writing of an audiovisual work and the contractualization with the screenwriters, it is judicious to take advice from a specialized lawyer so that the contractualization of author-producer relations is in accordance with this new agreement.









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