Jump to content


Photo

What is your experience getting releases?


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor
  • Sustaining Members
  • 860 posts
  • Other
  • Boston, Massachusetts

Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:54 AM

I know this is not a place to ask for legal advice but I'm curious about people's
different experiences.

For example, has anybody ever worked on "Cops" ? As I understand it, the producers obtain releases but it makes me wonder why anybody arrested for say soliciting prostitution would sign a release to be on national television.

Is there a difference in that certain people on camera become at some point "news" and
different rules apply? Do reality shows get releases from people who are intoxicated? Hasn't "Girls Gone Wild" been said to get a lot of its releases from women who regretted signing once they sobered up?

When they shot the pilot for "The Practice" there was some shooting done in Boston and members of the art department climbed up a ladder to temporarily take down signs for the Boston Marathon because the Boston Athletic Association is pretty strict about the use of its materials, such as the official Boston Marathon banners.

I can see where if you made a movie about a sadistic father who beats his kids while laughing and wearing a BAA jacket, a release might seem necessary. However, if you're out on the street and there's a sign, do you need permission anymore than any film that has a car driving down a road past every kind of trademarked fast food and retail logo?

I heard that the makers of a documentary had to pay $10,000.00 for permission to use the video and audio of a "Simpsons" episode that was playing in the background of a living room in a scene in the film. Maybe they would have won but wanted to avoid a costlier legal road if they didn't want to pay.

It seems that it's okay to take pictures of people in public where it is said that they should have no expectation of privacy. Television news certainly works by this precept. What if you wanted to do a documentary asking them a particular question of people on the sidewalk or street ? What if you felt that the people who seemed too disinterested to answer were a compelling part of your documentary? If you ask them a question on a public street and you clearly have a microphone and camera in plain sight, must you have a release if they say "No thanks" or "That's stupid" or "Go back to Russia." ?

I read that the producers of "Borat" had some people suing them, charging that they were misled about the purpose of the film when they signed releases. If you're on the sidewalk asking questions, do you have to give people the option to decline being in your film?
  • 0

#2 Serge Teulon

Serge Teulon
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 757 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London UK

Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:54 AM

I find it difficult to believe that when "Cops" or "Girls gone wild" is being shot that a producer jumps in at the end and asks politely, an individual that has just been chased by the police, if he/she could sign a release form so their faces can be shown on tv!
As I'm writing I'm thinking that there are some really confused ppl out there who might just say yes.....

As for shooting backgrounds that contain information about someone's products, doesn't that just constitute as surroundings? If so, then it should all be above board. And in any way, its free advertising!!

I would say that in the simpsons case it was because they had audio and video of their product.....making it a sub-conscience familiarization selling point.

In regards to your last point, unless you've pulled a gun on someone on the street to make them answer your questions I can't see why you'd have to give them that option. Surely their verbal acceptance and signing of a release form should do the trick.

but then I'm not a legal eagle! ;)
  • 0

#3 Chance Shirley

Chance Shirley
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 256 posts
  • Director

Posted 07 July 2008 - 04:31 PM

... why anybody arrested for say soliciting prostitution would sign a release to be on national television.

Some people want to be "famous" and don't care if it is for something embarrassing.

However, if you're out on the street and there's a sign...

Legally, copyrighted images appearing incidentally in a movie should be covered by "fair use." Unfortunately, the courts seem more interested in protecting corporations than the law these days, so don't count on fair use to do you much good if you get sued (as in the Simpsons case you mentioned).

...do you need permission anymore than any film that has a car driving down a road past every kind of trademarked fast food and retail logo?

If it is a studio film, you can bet the studio's team of lawyers secured permission to use every one of those trademarked logos.
  • 0

#4 Michele Peterson

Michele Peterson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 148 posts
  • Film Loader
  • Burbank, Ca

Posted 07 July 2008 - 06:44 PM

I believe (but I'm not a legal expert) you're right that you don't need a release for shooting people in public. They don't have a reasonable/legal expectation of privacy. I think thats how paparazzi get away with it. You can't however, go running into their house and video tape them unless you have their permission to use their face or possibly you only need the property owners permission to shoot there. Cops also does have some people's faces blurred, so there is a line somewhere.

I think you're also right about certain productions that can afford it, just pay to avoid dealing with the lawsuit. It's cheaper to settle. Plenty of people sue even when they know they don't have ground to stand on.

I have shot at outdoor events on private property, like in stadiums, large parking lots, and in convention centers. In those situations, we had a location release from the company hosting the event, and the company put up signs (to help all the media there) that anyone entering the premises where agreeing to be photographed by entering. We just got a shot of the sign for our own records.
  • 0

#5 George Ebersole

George Ebersole
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1570 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 08 July 2008 - 10:15 AM

I believe (but I'm not a legal expert) you're right that you don't need a release for shooting people in public. They don't have a reasonable/legal expectation of privacy. I think thats how paparazzi get away with it. You can't however, go running into their house and video tape them unless you have their permission to use their face or possibly you only need the property owners permission to shoot there. Cops also does have some people's faces blurred, so there is a line somewhere.

I think you're also right about certain productions that can afford it, just pay to avoid dealing with the lawsuit. It's cheaper to settle. Plenty of people sue even when they know they don't have ground to stand on.

I have shot at outdoor events on private property, like in stadiums, large parking lots, and in convention centers. In those situations, we had a location release from the company hosting the event, and the company put up signs (to help all the media there) that anyone entering the premises where agreeing to be photographed by entering. We just got a shot of the sign for our own records.

Last I heard faces could not be shot as of a few years ago, but bodies can. Which is why in news reports all you ever see are torsos.

I've never seen a producer have a problem getting a release. I was at the Conservatory in Golden Gate park shooting girls in bikinis some years back, and when the cops came to put a stop to it the producer (a woman) was just very business like in producing releases and handing them to the officers. We also shot a lot of foreign tourists, but didn't get releases from them. They wound up in the final cut too, which goes to show you that it depends on the producer and circumstances. My experience was that most people sign them as a matter of business. They don't really stop to think about what they're signing, so they just do it.

I was down at Intel one time shooting an in house industrial about employees commuting. We shot all kinds of faces and Intel employees, and didn't get any releases from anybody. Ditto from all the other industrials I've worked that have been shot on company locations (private property). VMX, Del Monte, Apple, Hewlet Packard and scores of others. But in all those instances the final product was meant for employee viewership, and not meant to be aired on television.

Edited by George Ebersole, 08 July 2008 - 10:16 AM.

  • 0

#6 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 08 July 2008 - 01:44 PM

Here are some portions of an E&O application you may find useful. This is from one of the major E&O insurers in the USA:

4. If the production is a documentary and there is no script, the producer should provide its counsel with a detailed synopsis of the
project in advance of production. (If it is a documentary series, the lawyer should receive a detailed synopsis of each episode.) If
the production will involve negative statements about people or businesses, the producer should provide counsel with full details
about the allegations and their merit. Problem statements can then be identified and thus avoided while filming. During filming, the
producer should be careful to avoid (or consult with counsel about) possible problem areas. (Examples include: filming identifiable
copyrighted items or performances, trademarks, persons who have not specifically consented to be filmed or minors.) Relevant
laws differ from place to place; some jurisdictions have very restrictive rules about filming persons, signs, buildings, public art, etc.
Also, be careful to avoid narration or editing that accidentally implies negative things about pictured people, products and
businesses

8. Whether the production is fictional or factual, the names, faces and likenesses of any recognizable living persons should not be
used unless written releases have been obtained. A release is unnecessary if the person is part of a crowd scene or shown in a
fleeting background. Releases can only be dispensed with if the applicant provides the Company with specific reasons, in writing,
as to why such releases are unnecessary and such reasons are accepted by the Company. The term ?living persons? includes
thinly disguised versions of living persons or living persons who are readily identifiable because of identity of other characters or
because of the factual, historical or geographic setting.

9. All releases must give the applicant the rights to edit, modify, add to and/or delete material, juxtapose any part of the film with
any other film, change the sequence of events or of any questions posed and/or answers given, fictionalize persons or events, and
make any other changes in the film that the applicant deems appropriate. If a minor, consent has to be legally binding.
  • 0


FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Opal

Tai Audio

The Slider

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

The Slider

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

CineLab

CineTape

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

FJS International, LLC