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Documentary and release forms

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Bryce Moose
Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:12:28 pm

I am making a film documentary about the reconstruction of a State complex. I have permission from the state to film this documentary and everyone on the construction site of the complex knows who I am and lets me film.

Do I need release forms for every single construction worker, interviewee etc? I"m told by the State I don't have to because they gave me a general permission.

Bryce


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john sharaf
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:24:11 pm

Hi Bryce,

The answer is both yes, no and maybe. It really all depends on your intended use and distribution.

The State, as you say, has given you what is broadly known as a "Location Release". I hope that's in writing.

While the people you film are probably aware that their boss the State has given you permission to film them, the possibility still exists that you could accidentally anger any of them to the point of sueing you for liable or slander.

For example you could unknowingly portray a worker doing something in an unsafe or unauthorized way.

You could show some one picking their nose in the background or something else that you don't notice or think matters but does to them.

If you are lucky enough to make a film worthy of TV exhibition or Distribution some other way, you might be required to obtain Errors & Omission Insurance (E&E), and the carrier will undoubtedly require releases from all people depicted. At that point you might not be able to GET the releases and that could
put the kibosh on your distribution deal, or the cost for the insurance without the releases could be prohibitive.

So regardless, the best, smartest and easiest thing to do is GET the releases when you can.

JMHO,

JS



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Bryce Moose
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:28:25 pm

I can't get the releases. The construction workers don't work their every day and they switch in and out randomly. I even asked about this before I filmed and was tole by the state not to worry about it.

Bryce


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Todd Terry
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:32:49 pm

If you don't have releases for "general crowd" people, you are probably ok with the State's release.

However at the very minimum you should get releases for people you interview on camera. Those fortunately are the easy ones, you just get them at the time of their shoot. Usually having them sign before the shoot is easier to remember, as soon as a shoot wraps it tends to be easier to forget.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Bryce Moose
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:35:02 pm

It it considered general crowd people if I'm filming a guy operating a steam roller? Some times I don't even show the guys operating and hardly have closeups.

Bryce


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john sharaf
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:35:37 pm

Bryce,

The State is NOT the arbiter of this matter. If it came to a lawsuit between you an a disgruntled "actor" in your movie, the likelihood of which increases with the success you're able to garner from it, the court will laugh at this testimony.

If the State was your client, and was putting up the money for the production, that's another matter, and you could slough any potential legal issues to them. I'd suggest however if that were the case, their contract with you would require that YOU provide them with the releases.

JS



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Bryce Moose
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:38:52 pm

There was no contract with anyone because I'm in college and was told by the state that because I'm doing it for a portfolio not to worry about it.

Bryce


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Mark Suszko
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 7:24:09 pm

It's a little tricky, being that you're working on a state project, on state land, a state building, and contractors who have signed agreements with the state. While IANAL, and not authorized to speak for my state, it seems to me that your footage ends up as public domain because all the workers on the job are covered under the state government contract, which is taxpayer-funded. State government contracts are quite detailed and byzantine, in order to cover all the possible issues that come up during the course of such a project, and the need to document everything and keep things transparent.

What you shoot for a portfolio, and what you might use on a festival circuit, are very different things. The level of rigor in your documentation is very different between the two. I think the short-cut that might help you is to deal in person with the people that wrote the contract: that would be some equivalent of your state's Capital Development authority, or some such name. if they're in a good mood, they might just look it up for you, if they're too overworked to bother, or under orders to stonewall, You could FOIA them, to ask if there is specific language in their contract that gives a blanket permission to photograph workers while they work on state-funded projects, and if not, why not.


As an example, school districts long ago got tired of chasing around individual permissions paperwork for every school event that might happen in front of a lens, from football games to a school play, so somewhere in all the paperwork you fill out at annual registration is a single universal permission slip or notice saying you have presumed approval to be photographed at any official school event and location at any time. it's probably written ins such a way that you need do nothing, unless you want to be exempted, so it's automatic opt-in for everyone.

Back to your construction project: You should try to see if some clause like this is already in the construction contracts, or otherwise covered by the State. Then if the insurance guys have an issue, the state has the names of the participants in their database of who got paid for what.


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Bryce Moose
Re: Documentary and release forms
on Nov 5, 2015 at 10:47:50 pm

Thanks so much,

I had to take a safety course before I could be allowed on the construction site. I also had to be escorted by a state construction staff member whenever I filmed. So that person was well aware of what I was doing and so did everyone else that I filmed.

Bryce


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