using copyrighted footage for showreel
I'm not entirely sure if this is the place to ask this, so apologies if it is not. I'm currently working on a showreel (DVD) which will consist mainly of copyrighted source footage. The reel is all about editing, so I wanted to use professional footage.
I know that I am not allowed to use this footage for anything but private use, but the question is, can I send out the DVDs as part of a job application? The origin of the footage along with names of the copyright holders will be added of course, but still, would I be seriously violating copyrights? Does anyone have experience with this?
Thanks for your help.
What does your conscience tell you?
Or, that question aside, what do you think a prospective employer
will think of a guy who "borrows" copyrighted materials? Might they wonder if once they hire you, you will "borrow" their own work product for your own purposes? I think I would.
I can understand an editor who doesn't shoot anything himself, but is yet a good editor and needs material to work with.
If this was my situation, I think I would opt for buying cleared clips from a stock house like Artbeats or similar.
The other issue that can come up with clips from familiar sources is they bring a lot of baggage with them. Clips from movies or Tv shows come with their own context already, and with associations that may or may work as you intended when you borrowed the clip. You start with a handicap in having first to break the previous contextual linkages before you even start composing a new story with the clips. Now I have seen this done brilliantly with the re-cut versions of trailers for West Side Story and The Shining (see youtube for these) but I think those work precisely because the audience knows the original material and enjoys the dichotomy of expectations. If you are trying to do a serious example of your own editing style, using these clips just makes people watching expect you to ape the style of the original, and they are likely to feel disappointed if you don't. Why paint yourself into such a creative corner?
Be yourself, obtain original material and put your definitive spin on it, show your talent without having to pick Cowart's work out from Spielberg's.
P.S. to the previous post that I accidentally dropped:
I have seen many demos played at trade shows that used stock house clips with large lower thirds showing the source of the clips. I don't know what the stock house policy is about using the watermarked footage for "free", but it may behoove you to go to their sites and see if they offer any such "freebie" use and under what terms. Could save you money and solve your demo problem.
*Plus, it shows prospective clients that you really CAN make a story out of almost anything, including their own repurposed footage, at a big savings. That's marketing that works for YOU.
Thanks for your opinion and suggestions on this topic - really appreciated.
I should explain in greater detail what I am planning to do: I want to create trailers based on released movies (DVD/mpeg2 footage). Using stock footage in that regard is not really an option for me. I know the technical and artistical implications and difficulties, but I want to show my ability to build up a story, tension and participation within a certain time frame (trailer length), and I absolutely lack professional footage. I could start shooting everything myself, but that would not enhance my editing skills and take a lot of time and money which I don't have at the moment - and it's the editing part that I want to present. I want the employer/client to show that I can make a trailer based on footage that is not my own, hence where I did not have any influence on the shooting etc.
This is more like using a 3D rig from someone else to start a 3d animation showreel that just focuses on animation, not rigging.
Thanks for your help.
[Mark Suszko] "show your talent without having to pick Cowart's work out from Spielberg's"
re: Spielberg. I've heard that when he was a teen-ager he bought old movies of WW2 and intercut aerial combat scenes into his backyard-and-basement epics. Worked for him.
Putting the ethics and the copyright laws aside, the suggestion to get footage that you can legally use is a good one. Perhaps you could find a shooter who has a good reel, and offer to edit his/her footage into a great reel, in exchange for use of the footage.
Practically speaking, you'll be better off using footage that is not famous, because that would distract people from you to... Spielberg. And he doesn't need your help to get work.
-- Bob C.
[Cowart] "The reel is all about editing, so I wanted to use professional footage."
Here's the thing, if you're applying for a "professional" editing possition, and you are so unconfident with the footage that you've worked with in the past, what questions will that leave the employer with? Dependent upon where and for whom you wish to work, there are vastly different considerations that you need to grasp prior to cutting up other peoples' footage, especially that footage with not only limited personal creative perspective, but also with legal foresight as well. As a person who has hired (and dismissed) a lot of people over the years, I can confidently say that unless the editing is so tremendous that I either cry or feel moved to dance, I'd find issue with any application/reel that utilized footage that was not a part of the applicant's own body of work.
[Cowart] "I know that I am not allowed to use this footage for anything but private use"
This might be a misunderstanding on your part, but if you're thinking that recutting footage as part of a license to VIEW a production at home has been extended to you simply based upon your purchase of said material, you'd be absolutely mistaken. Bluntly, that silly screen at the beginning of every DVD and recorded-for-resale video is pretty explicit in the fact that you MAY NOT use the video for ANYTHING except viewing in the privacy of yur own home, which almost certainly negates the liklihood of your question with respect to legallity.
[Cowart] "The origin of the footage along with names of the copyright holders will be added of course"
I'm sure that this would help with your conscience, but the reality is that the rule is the rule is the rule. Your violation would create a very sticky situation that would be best left to other potential employees.
[Cowart] "would I be seriously violating copyrights?"
Good luck with the application, but I sincerely think that your due consideration of this should be further scrutinized before your make a mistake that gets you removed from the potential hire stack.
Gainesville, Florida USA
Thanks everyone for your help. I guess I should rather refrain from doing what I wanted to do, and just use it for training purposes :)
I would talk to a shooter about using your talents to cut a demo reel for him/her. If you want, I don't have time to cut a reel together but you can come to my place and get started tomorrow morning.
It's a dry heat!
If I was sent a demo reel which uses movie footage, my first thought would be "Wow, did this guy cut that trailer?" I think using recognizable materials is distracting.
Don't you have some existing work to showcase? I thought the point of a demo reel is to showcase your own work.
If you are trying to get new work based upon an example of your talents, I would do what the others have said, find a shooter with some footage you could use.
Or if you want to make a demo with say, a 30 sec spot, some talking heads/b-roll sequences and maybe some dialog, you could hire a shooter for a day and get some friends to be your actors. For maybe $1000 you can get some footage which is tailored to your needs - which is of course what happens when you get your editing jobs!
If you are just looking for material to demonstrate your cutting skills, try using some of the public domain work you can download on the web. Best part about it is it's free.
The Internet Movie Achive
The Library of Congress
NASA (government produced material is copyright free)