Copyright & Contracts for Filmmakers Workshop on February 5th

Presented by  Max Hass and Bri Whetstone

Tuesday, February 5th 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Launch Pad, 400 Poydras, Suite 900

We’re excited to launch our new workshop series on Copyright and Contracts. Supported by a grant from the Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans, this series launches by addressing copyright and contract topics relevant to filmmakers and will cover a range of legal and business topics for artists developing their careers. This workshop will be an introduction to copyright issues, including an explanation of what copyrights are, information on registering copyrights, issues related to collaborations and commissions, an overview of work for hire agreements and other contracts commonly encountered by filmmakers and producers, and more!

NOTE: This workshop is an overview of certain areas of law concerning copyright and contract, and is intended for educational purposes only. The workshop will not provide legal advice. The Ella Project will be onsite to sign up qualified clients seeking pro bono assistance. 


Licensing Music to Film & TV Workshop January 23rd

Sync Up Workshop:
Step One: Make Sure Your Copyrights are Registered
Wednesday, Jan. 23
5:30 p.m. at the Jazz & Heritage Center

Free, but Advance registration required.

The Ella Project is excited to  participate in this upcoming workshop,  a collaboration between the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Jazz & Heritage Foundation – which we see as the first step in a multi-phase effort to help more local artists get their music into film and TV productions.

The workshop features an interview with bounce rap star Big Freedia and her manager, Reid Martin of Midcitizen Entertainment, focusing on making a profitable business from a career as a musician – including licensing music to film and TV productions.

There also will be a panel discussion that explains the proper steps for registering copyrights for music, along with an overview of how best to approach film and TV productions for licensing music to them. Panelists include Robin Burgess, manager of Terence Blanchard and Quiana Lynell; film composer Jay Weigel; entertainment attorney Tim Kappel; and Victoria Adams Phipps of the New Orleans Business Alliance.

Those who attend can sign up for free assistance sessions with The Ella Project. In these sessions, attorneys will help musicians and songwriters not only organize their catalogs, but also take the necessary steps to register their copyrights.

In addition, the first 50 artists who register for the Jan. 23 workshop and attend complete an ELLA Project assistance session will earn a grant from the New Orleans Business Alliance to substantially offset the fees for registering copyrights.

Where Are They Now? Ella Project alum Dorian Slater Thomas

Dorian Slater Thomas Frankfurt Kurnit Klein Selz

Dorian Slater Thomas

Since our launch in 2004, The Ella Project has worked with over 400 Tulane law students who have volunteered their time with us. One of our favorite things is to see what our former student volunteers are up to. One of our favorite volunteers is Dorian Slater Thomas. Dorian worked with Ella in 2013. Currently, Dorian is an associate attorney with Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC in New York City, where he is a member of the advertising group. We recently had a chance to catch up with Dorian, and here’s what he had to say about his time at The Ella Project, the importance of Pro Bono, and why these services are so important.

Ella: What are some of the people you helped, issues you worked on that stick out from your time with Ella?

Dorian: I recall reviewing various recording agreements for local artists in New Orleans. I also recall a local artist coming into the ELLA office to drop off his new album, which Ashlye had advised him on. I got the impression that this was a frequent occurrence at ELLA. That is, an artist coming in to genuinely express their gratitude for the assistance they had received. And having an impromptu album listening party.

Ella: What are you doing now?

Dorian: I’m an associate attorney at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, a firm that specializes in serving the entertainment and advertising industries. I’m a member of the advertising group, representing agencies and brands handling their advertising needs. We do everything from reviewing scripts, copy, and spots to drafting master services agreements between advertising agencies and their clients. Among other things, I negotiate talent and influencer agreements for such agencies and brands.

Ella: Are there ways your work with Ella has benefited your current career?

Dorian: ELLA taught me the importance of the personal connection between a client and an attorney. I think this is especially important when servicing clients in the creative field. When servicing clients today, I strive to nurture a genuine personal connection.

Ella: Are you involved with other pro bono organizations right now as an attorney?

Dorian: I am involved with several pro bono organizations, particularly organizations that focus on representing diverse individuals. I also believe in the importance of translating the ethos of pro bono service into my non-professional life. That is, I believe in supporting the causes in which I believe, and the people who inspire me, at the ground level. I encourage other attorneys to do so as well. Go to the premiere of that indie film. Buy the album on the merch table after the concert in the park. Take the train to Bushwick to see that new performance piece. Go to the after party.

Ella: Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

Dorian: I do (thanks Louis Armstrong). Thankfully, New Orleans is a city of ghosts; ghosts who are there waiting to welcome you back.

Dorian continues to Support The Ella Project through his membership in Attorneys For Ella. If you similarly value your time at The Ella Project, believe in Pro Bono, or just want to support our efforts, please join today. 




Fall legal clinics in full swing

Ella offers all day free legal clinics by appointment every Friday overseen by Co-Founder Ashlye Keaton with support from Tulane Law School. We’re thrilled to have twelve new interns joining us this term. Through this clinic, Ella serves 175 pro bono clients a year from across Louisiana. Do you need pro bono legal assistance? Fill out our online  application here. 

Ella Project curating Music Policy Forum Summit in Washington DC

mpfWe’re excited to be in the nation’s capitol October 26-27th for the Music Policy Forum Summit. This event brings together several hundred musicians, researchers, policymakers, industry and nonprofit leaders, and other stakeholders into a wide-ranging exploration of some of the most promising and exciting thought leadership in the music and policy space.This year’s theme is “The Future is…” and The Ella Project is curating the agenda, presenting on local engagement and cultural heritage, and along with the New Orleans Jazz Museum, co-hosting a discussion on Cultural Tourism and Institutions. Hope those in the DC area can join us!

Visual Artist Boot Camp returns in November

The Visual Artist Business Boot Camps are back! We’ll be in Ruston, LA on November 3rd and 4th, hosted by the North Central Louisiana  Arts Council. This two day program is for advancing visual artists and addresses topics including:

  • Pricing and how art is sold.
  • Marketing materials for the visual artist.
  • Creating artist statements, bios, and resumes.
  • Working with galleries, festivals, and public art.
  • Copyright and Trademark.
  • Effective use of social media.
  • Developing a career plan for success.

This workshop uses a combination of presentation and small group work to cover a broad array of topics in a short time. With support from the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development and the National Endowment for the Arts, The Ella Project has toured this program to nine regions of Louisiana in 2018, and the Ruston event will bring this year’s tour to a close. Interested in bringing the boot camp to your community in 2019? Email us at 

TO RSVP for the November 3-4 session in Ruston, please click here. 

Ella Project working with South Arts on jazz touring program.

The Ella Project has bsoutharts.pngeen hired by South Arts, a regional organization based in Atlanta that builds on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts, to facilitate six upcoming, invitation-only national focus group meetings to assess the current jazz touring environment,  and how to build careers for lesser-known artists located throughout the country’s more rural and underserved areas.  These sessions will be instrumental in designing the launch of Jazz Road, a forthcoming initiative funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Jazz Road will be led by South Arts in partnership with the five other U.S. Regional Arts Organizations (Arts Midwest, Mid America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Western Arts Alliance/WESTAF). Follow us on Instagram as we document these conversations taking place across the U.S. in next two months.

Reviews are in for our Visual Artist Business Boot Camp

The Ella Project presented our Visual Artist Business Boot Camp to 125 artists across Louisiana in 2018. Here are some of their reviews of the boot camp:

“Y’all left no question unanswered”-Houma artist.

“I found the speakers conveyed their information very well, allowing the artists to ask questions and getting answers. Knowing that legal representation is available at no cost to artists is invaluable as was all the information presented.I had no idea you would cover so much and the information would be so encompassing.“-Covington artist

“I only wish I had had this class presented to me in art school or 20 years ago. It was outstanding.”-Covington artist

“Super informative for all levels of accomplishment!”-Monroe artist

“The depth of information given was great. Each presenter was easy to talk to and answered all questions thrown at them with ease.”-New Orleans artist

Visual Artist Business Boot Camps wrap up for the season

We’ve traversed the state in 2018 presenting our Visual Artist Business Boot Camp in eight regions to 125 Louisiana visual artists. This weekend intensive workshop got rave reviews and our Covington boot camp was recently profiled by We’re currently reviewing opportunities for presenting this program in 2019. If you’re interested in bringing the Boot Camp to your community, please email us and let’s talk!

Thank you to the State of Louisiana’s Office of Cultural Development, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ella West Freeman Foundation, and all our local partners for helping make this program a success!