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Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?

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MarciAnn WhiteStudent Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Oct 30, 2014 at 4:10:31 pm

Hello everyone,

I was working on my senior student film. The last day of filming my dp walked off set and said he was leaving prior to wrap. His reasoning was he was tired. Because it was a student film the time was volunteers. I did provide room and board for the cast and crew. He has now contacted me for the footage. When he walked off set, I took that as his quitting.

I am looking for some advice on how to handle this. I have agreed on a meeting to talk about issue.

My stance:
I don't think he should be allow to have any of the footage for the last day. His name and title will appear in its rightful place in the credits, but if there is opening credit he will not appear in them.

Thank you!


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Wayne KeyserRe: Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Oct 30, 2014 at 7:28:48 pm

There are several unanswered questions about the situation, and more unanswered questions about your reason for asking.

Was he, in fact, quitting altogether? Were you supposed to assume that he no longer wished his name to be associated with the project? If so, has he changed his mind? Did his leaving before the end of the last day compromise the project or require someone else to fill in with creative input?

Even if those questions are answered, it's a volunteer project and people (especially volunteers) have their limits. "Unprofessional" as his action may have been, the situation is not covered by union rules or salary considerations.

If I were in your place, I'd be upset with him, I'd be asking myself whether I unwisely pushed the DP or any other volunteers past their limits (you'll find out, I suppose, by the response you get to requests for volunteers in the future), and I'd finally ask THE BIG QUESTION: What can giving him the footage cost, just hand it over and put this whole incident in the past.

=============

There is no "way to peace." Peace is the way.


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Richard HerdRe: Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Oct 30, 2014 at 9:35:26 pm

[Wayne Keyser] "THE BIG QUESTION: What can giving him the footage cost, just hand it over and put this whole incident in the past.
"


Bingo!

(keep a copy for yourself, to state the obvious. ;)


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Andrew RendellRe: Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Oct 31, 2014 at 8:33:46 am

If I were you I'd give him a copy of the footage.

Think about what Wayne has written, on the shoot you were essentially managing a team of creative people, which is like the proverbial herding of cats. We don't know what happened on the day but all sorts of scenarios come to mind (there's no need for you to elaborate unless you wish to).

It's good that you're going to meet to talk about it. Leave your ego at the door and clear up any misunderstandings and you'll probably both learn something.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Oct 31, 2014 at 1:58:34 pm

Giving the DP a copy of the footage isn't even the biggest issue. He/she lit the scenes, they deserve a copy to be able to show what they did.

The biggest issue is who owns the legal rights to SHOW and USE the footage for any kind of public/for profit purpose.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that since this was a student project, nobody thought to write up a contract or even a simple Deal Memo?


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Bill DavisRe: Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Oct 31, 2014 at 7:46:00 pm

I was listening to a production related podcast earlier today where a pretty high end editor from Europe noted that when he was refreshing his website - after he removed some older pieces he didn't thing were as strong - he realized that all the pieces that were left were ones in which there was a lot of stress and strife throughout production and editing.

Creative creation isn't a particularly easy task. Tempers can flare. And the higher profile the the larger the budgets, the more stress there will be. So hurt feelings is something you will have to learn to get over if you want to continue to work in the creative arts.

My 2 cents.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Ned MillerRe: Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Nov 2, 2014 at 4:30:58 pm

I was waiting until Sunday to reply. I've been in your shoes and I've been in his shoes. I remembered all the incidents like these. Having PTSD.

I used to do a lot of what we now call "indies", short narrative films, student films, slasher films, direct-to-video horror, spec jobs. I used to shoot with my Aaton Super 16mm film camera hoping to attach myself to the next up and coming Spike Lee or Quentin Tarrentino but that's easier to do in LA than Chicago. A couple of things:

• Is the DP a fellow student or an older, "real" professional DP? If he is the latter than it is not expected for him to do the blue collar, loading into the truck in the rain parts of the wrap. When principle shooting for the day is complete and he has safely put the camera related parts in their cases, the DP if he is an older pro should shake hands, pass out cards and find out when and where the wrap party is. He is not a grunt crew member. I ask these questions because I have done a couple of dozen of these where I was 10, 20 even 30 years older than the rest of the crew and it was basically running a film school and one does get tired and the young eager beavers should do the heavy wrap chores, not the DP. And you will find this true when you get into the real pro world. So please let us know the facts regarding this.

• Leaving, such as in saying proper good byes, is different than "walking off", as in mad, swearing, steam coming out of their ears. I have only done that a couple of times when I was thoroughly abused on 16 hour days, and it mainly was due to a Lack of Craft Services, which is something they don't teach in Film School. Student and independent productions don't consider the calorie burn off and need for breaks, the producer/director types are running on stress induced adrenaline but we crew types are really burning calories, carbs and protein. One starts to think of how hungry one is rather than how to fix that shadow or kill a reflection. Throwing a Subway sandwich at someone every 5 hours doesn't count, you need a table laid out. Avoid sugar. A big pot of coffee brewing at all time, not take out coffee allowed to get cold. Craft Services is actually an art, indispensable, and the main reason one gets crabby after 10 hours. So, when you say "walked off" we old pros need to know why, such as in disgust from length of day, no meals, etc. and it must be factored in with the above: Student vs Pro.

I feel he is entitled to a final version of the film in a high resolution form for his own samples, I would never give a crew person raw footage unless that was in the original deal memo. There are outtakes, etc. that could find their embarrassing way onto YouTube, etc.

Lastly and very importantly, if it is a fellow student who is the DP, you should really, really, really bury the hatchet. The reason is, when you all graduate and go your separate ways, some of you will get jobs that can help the others. You form an informal alumni association so to speak and social media will help build, maintain or torpedo reputations. Something my age group didn't have to worry about. So if I was you I, if he is a fellow film school student, I would find a way to make amends and have him at the wrap party, smiling.

That's my .02¢

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Neal PetroskyRe: Student Film: If a DP walks off set before wrap do they have a right to the footage for that day?
by on Jan 15, 2015 at 10:15:15 pm

Late to the game on this one but thought I'd put my 2 cents in anyway.
1. It's a student film... give him the footage and just address any issues with your professor. I understand that part of the student film is learning how to work together... but really if it has anything to do with a class, then you talk to the teacher. If a person decided not to write or do any research for a group paper, you'd talk to the teacher and just give them a heads up that although it was completed so and so did nothing... make sure you can provide evidence.

2. If it's a true student film, tough to break it to you but the school owns the footage... ESPECIALLY if you used any of their gear. Go re-read your student handbook. Just like if a student works on a scientific experiment and uses the school's lab to do the research, those results are property of the school.

Don't fret too much about who owns what... the short (and I'm sorry but not sorry) probably sucks... but as long as you can use it to get your foot in the door for a job after graduation (and ya know, don't fail the class due to him walking off), who cares. Chalk it up to a life lesson you've just learned without having to eat costs for a client.


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