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Filming crowds?


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#1 Samuel Berger

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 10:21 PM

I've read that for filming the opening shots of NYC for DOG DAY AFTERNOON, Sydney Lumet just drove around with an Arri IIc in a station wagon and grabbed footage of non-actors going about their lives.

 

Is this something that can still be done, considering all those shots were filmed in a public place? I watch IMPRACTICAL JOKERS a lot and they always get releases from people they film, and when they don't, they blur their faces.


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#2 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 02:47 AM

This is a legal issue, and an important one. From a professional standpoint, you have to get signed releases from anyone who appears in your film in any recognizable forms - from image to voice. Failure to get this written permission might not only lead to a lawsuit down the road, but will also prove hard when it comes to getting E&O insurance - proper clearances are a major proportion of getting such a policy.

 

Do yourself a favor - get permission from them. Alternatively, you can post a large sign warning that filming is in progress and that they might be photographed, but I'm not sure if even this would stand up in a court of law.

 

News and documentaries can usually get by with getting crowd shots, due to the nature of the material. 


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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 03:14 AM

this varies from country to country and I believe there's even different laws in different US states about this, but...

 

here in Finland it kinda varies and generally the absolute requirement is that the subjects are presented in completely neutral context when publishing the material. a warning sign does not help; it is legal to photograph/shoot footage in public places but publishing that footage is completely separate issue and may be complicated or forbidden without clearances especially if it is used for commercial purposes (where the context almost never is neutral anyway. and using a person's face for marketing purposes without permission is not legal here if the person is identifiable).

 

for non-commercial uses and documentary+news journalistic content it is easier to film in public places than for fiction/drama production. city's shooting permissions help a little bit but generally for commercial fiction/drama one still needs the clearances for most uses.

 

Completely different country with different laws (we don't have the "fair use" laws for content for example and here it is technically not legal for example to photograph public art although it is otherwise legal to photograph in public places without permission) but the neutral context requirement is a good starting point in any country. in the US it would still be needed to get the clearances to ensure that you can publish the material in the end and will avoid legal problems . 

(If you absolutely have to use guerilla material without clearances then you could try to fake dof in post so that only your actor would be recognizable and everyone else is very blurred and unidentifiable. this should not cause you that much legal problems I believe..)


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 05:48 AM

Hard to do this these days (although there seems to be a difference between Hoffman and the producer as to the circumstances re the "I'm walking here" line) 

 

 

On dramas etc you need to clear the people, although I've shot in such a way that faces aren't featured.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 09:12 AM

I shot in NYC in Times Square and places like the Grand Central Terminal for NBC's "Smash" with real crowds of people passing the camera, in these cases we had a permit and put up signs everywhere saying that filming was in progress, etc.  There's no way to get signatures for thousands of people walking past a camera.

 

Now I've been shooting another series in NYC but since it is set in the late 1950's, we can't just shoot modern crowds on the streets.


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#6 AJ Young

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 11:11 PM

Now I've been shooting another series in NYC but since it is set in the late 1950's, we can't just shoot modern crowds on the streets.

 

You're shooting in the wrong neighborhood, David.  :P


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#7 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 06:10 PM

This is a legal issue, and an important one. From a professional standpoint, you have to get signed releases from anyone who appears in your film in any recognizable forms - from image to voice. Failure to get this written permission might not only lead to a lawsuit down the road, but will also prove hard when it comes to getting E&O insurance - proper clearances are a major proportion of getting such a policy.
 
Do yourself a favor - get permission from them. Alternatively, you can post a large sign warning that filming is in progress and that they might be photographed, but I'm not sure if even this would stand up in a court of law.
 
News and documentaries can usually get by with getting crowd shots, due to the nature of the material.


Landon, why is it different with still photos?

If people are in public, no release is required unless it is for commercial advertising.
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#8 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 07:24 PM

 From a professional standpoint, you have to get signed releases from anyone who appears in your film in any recognizable forms

This is not true. I've shot out on city streets many times, and never once have we even attempted to get releases. It's not necessary. As long as you don't heavily feature anyone (in a close-up, for instance), and they are not the main focus of the shot, it is fair use. Production might put up a sign to inform passersby that they might be filmed, but that's the limit of any attempt to gain consent.


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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 07:58 PM

My experience is same as above..  US companies will sometimes have an PA holding signs and I have to get a close up and wide of the said sign.. but thats not that usual.. it depends on the over paid lawyers they have at base, who use these scare tactics to justify their wage..   if you can ,its more important to have a couple of security bruisers around as sometimes there will a nut job who wants some attention or money to go away..   you cant be sued filming people in public area,s.. if you have permission to shoot in that area ..


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#10 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 11:34 PM

My understanding of the situation is that anytime anyone appears in your project, and they are in any way recognizable (voice, image, etc.), you need to obtain their permission. There is often thought to be an exception for the news media to this rule (see editorial use of likenesses), since gathering the news often times requires filming in public spaces in unpredictable circumstances, and involves provided current news and events. However, my understanding is that a motion picture set is presumed to be a control environment, and also a strictly commercial environment. This precise idea is why model release forms even exist. If you could simply film anyone in public any time you wanted, and use their likeness without permission, there would no need for such items.

 

I stand by my stance that anytime ANYONE is recorded in a means that they are identifiable, and you intend to use that footage for commercial, income-generating purposes - you need either a model release, or to provide reasonable notice that filming is taking place and that they are releasing their rights by being in that area. Just because a lot of people don't follow that rule, does not mean it doesn't exist - they just haven't been on the receiving end of a lawsuit related to it yet. 

 

As explained in this article (https://www.rocketla...ease-form-cb.rl):

 

Commercial Use

 
If you're shooting a video that will be used for commercial purposes, you need to have written permission from everyone featured in the footage. This includes shooting a commercial for your business, testimonials from customers, a Web series that generates income or an entry into a contest. Customize a standard release form to explain how you plan to use the footage, and state any rights the subject may have in regard to payment -- for example, is the subject signing away all claims, or will she receive a flat fee or percentage if the video makes a profit?

 

 

In this article (https://artlawjourna...-model-release/), it goes further to explain:

 

 

One caveat though; in street photos, the subject must be clearly identifiable, but defining “clearly identifiable” can be a gray area.  It may be hard to recognize a person at a distance but if the photos is in front of the subjects home then he or she may be identifiable.

 

That leads me right back to my original statement: If your subjects are recognizable as individuals in your commercial project, you need to either get a written waiver (preferable) or at the very least limit your liability with a conspicuously placed sign. If you capture images of people from behind or in some means in which they cannot be easily identified, then you don't need the release of likeness. 

 

Ultimately though, even in cases where it might not be strictly required: you need to at least post a notice. It might well save you a headache (and some money) down the road if someone decides to sue you for a payday because they where walking down the street. Having proof they where warned that such might happen could very well be the thing that saves you.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 08 September 2017 - 11:42 PM.

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#11 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 02:55 AM

Try to get everyone who's faces goes through your frame on a long lens in Tokyo or HK.. or any big city.. it would be totally impossible.. no one is getting sued for those shots.. if they, and you are in a public area, and you have permission to shoot.. and you put up some signs.. 

 

The only thing is, some one does also have to right to stand right in front of your camera.. or dance a drunken gig.. and sometimes there do.. money or muscle soon moves them on.. 

 

Ofcourse if you interview someone you will need their release .. although on corps this very rarely happens in my experience ..

 

I dont mean to be argumentative .. but its one of my pet peeves .. lawyers putting out totally false scare tactics to validity their wages... its becoming really Kafka like some of the total crap that has come through from some office in London or LA.. they are just making it up.. there are plenty of big feature films with shots of the public.. where faces are discernible passing through frame..or shot from a moving vehicle ..  and there are not 200 PA,s running after them all.. Once in the middle of rural China an important message came through from the "lawyers" .. we were not to shoot an Ox in a field.. "unless the OX was trained and had been filmed before".. I kid you not!!!   so we took the huge risk and filmed it anyway..and told the lawyer to get a proper job.. 


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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 03:44 AM

Normally we put up signs. Anyone featured gets a release form, aside from that, nothing needed.

Hell I've filmed Hollywood Blvd and we didn't even HAVE signs, never an issue in the slightest.


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#13 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 11:18 AM

Both of those articles refer to people who are featured in a photograph: specifically, a model or the subject of a 'street photograph'. A person who appears incidentally in the background of a shot is not featured, therefore needs no release.


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#14 Samuel Berger

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 02:06 PM

Thanks all who replied. I'm going with the "put a sign up and film" thing, and not feature anyone.


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