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Old October 15th, 2002, 08:16 AM   #1
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paying documentary participants

Has anyone found it necessary to compensate people for appearing in a documentary? What about the person the documentary is about? Is it customary for them to be payed at all?
(I personally think the honor of the whole thing would be reward enough)

Thanks.
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Old October 15th, 2002, 08:44 AM   #2
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:Has anyone found it necessary to compensate people for
:appearing in a documentary?
- Not in my experience. Just make sure you have them sign a release form.

:What about the person the documentary is about?
- No, however, you should get their written permission to cover yourself. Also, get them to sign a release form.

:Is it customary for them to be payed at all?
- Well, you should cover their expenses if you require them to travel to you. Feeding them is pretty standard too, at least offer to take them out to dinner after the shoot to thank them.

:(I personally think the honor of the whole thing would be reward
:enough)
- Depends upon how good the documentary is ;-)
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Old October 17th, 2002, 10:50 AM   #3
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I think that paying documentary participants would raise questions about the integrity of the documentary, if by that one means trying to document "reality." One pays for a performance and a documentary isn't a performance or at least should not be in my view. It would depend a lot on the subject matter and the tone of the piece. If you are aiming for a journalistic product, paying would be out.

An exception might be actors paid to act in obvious dramizations of events for the sake of telling a story visually that would not be possible otherwise.

You might take a look at the chapter on ethics and documentary film making in Barry Hampe's Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos published by Owl Books (Henry Holt, New York). 1997.
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Old October 17th, 2002, 12:14 PM   #4
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No. This is journalism. If you paid them it's contamination.

However...

You should pay reasonable expenses and obviously credit them.
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Old October 21st, 2002, 12:26 PM   #5
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I recently did a documentary about a breeder of fighting bulls and we had to shoot a lot with bulls running back and forth, so we kept the farmhands (cowboys?) away from their normal jobs. We paid say 1000 $ to compensate for 3 days shooting.
Documentaries can take many forms, and not everybody feels flattered enough appearing on TV to spend a lot of his/her time on your project. Some "documentaries" are also shot more like fiction, with 6 takes per scene and "I know you normally use the Landrover, but could you use your horse instead?" The subject becomes an actor really.
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