With the WGA strike underway and SAG-AFTRA passing the authorization to follow suit, we sat down with entertainment lawyer, entrepreneur and legal expert Joshua Lastine of Lastine Law to discuss the current opportunities and trends facing the industry.
Grit Daily: What have been some of the biggest challenges as an entrepreneur in the legal landscape? In terms of starting your own law firm and growing its presence?
Joshua Lastine: Probably the biggest challenge for me has been balancing the “entrepreneur” aspect of running a law firm while trying to maintain the highest quality of legal standards. Although I studied business in college, I never started/run my own business before. It was great to flex those business skills while learning what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Growing the business and its presence has also been an exciting challenge—coming up with new and exciting ways to promote the law firm while thinking outside the box.
Grit Daily: You specialize in entertainment law specifically, what does that encompass and what are some of your most common client needs?
Joshua Lastine: No two clients are ever the same. We represent actors, models, influencers, writers, directors, producers, studios, news pundits, musicians, etc. All of whom have their own unique type of deals that need to be negotiated but all of whom need some type of contract drafting and negotiation and legal guidance on industry-specific regulations and contracts.
Grit Daily: Currently, Hollywood is facing a strike by the WGA over contracts, specifically with streaming platforms. What are the legal ramifications if the strike continues?
Joshua Lastine: The most significant impact on the industry overall is the cost. To everybody. Productions are being and will continue to be halted or delayed, impacting revenue streams and having a ripple effect across all workers. A lot of contracts are being canceled, and the burden is falling on the talent to hold the studios and streaming platforms accountable for breached contracts or disagreements about compensation. The reality is that nobody wants a strike; and everyone loses.
Grit Daily: There is a lot of news currently about AI and how it will be used in entertainment. What legal pitfalls do you see that could come up from this? What advantages?
Joshua Lastine: AI in entertainment will really help “democratize” the industry. The costs/barriers to entry for creatives for animation and digital creations are cheaper than it has ever been. It can also lead to understanding the audience and certain demographics better, and help with content recommendations. But it could also see the rise of rampant IP theft, privacy concerns, a creative drought, and maybe the replacement of mankind…
Grit Daily: As an entrepreneur, what advantages does someone have coming to a boutique firm like yours over a larger firm that’s been around the industry?
Joshua Lastine: The biggest advantage of a boutique firm is more personalized attention and dedicated service to our clients. We can also be more agile in adapting to industry changes and can offer competitive fee structures compared to larger firms.
Grit Daily: What are the biggest trends you see facing the entertainment industry over the next few years?
Joshua Lastine: Lack of opportunities for new talent in the tv/film space vs the digital space. Changes in storytelling such as advancements in virtual and augmented reality, interactive experiences, and immersive storytelling. Moreover, the impact of data-driven decision-making, influencer marketing, and global collaborations is expected to shape the industry landscape.
Grit Daily: If you can give one piece of legal advice to other entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Joshua Lastine: One important piece of legal advice for entrepreneurs is to prioritize building their brand identity. Learn the basic tenants of “good business” and apply them to a law firm.
Grit Daily: Where can our readers contact you?