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Old March 29th, 2013, 12:18 PM   #1
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Documentary legal planning

Anyone know a good reference for learning the legal side of documentary making? For example, besides the using copyrighted music and release forms for interviewees, what about general people and minors in my "B" roll shots? My planned doc is about a yearly festival/carnival and certainly seems impossible to get permission from every person and/or parent if I shoot someone riding the ferris wheel and kids eating cotton candy, etc. I know I am going in with grand illusions, but if it works out, I will pitch the video to the local public access channel and perhaps our local PBS. I am even considering selling as a DVD direct from a website that I will create for the doc. Any and all help is greatly appreciated, as always!
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Old March 29th, 2013, 12:46 PM   #2
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Re: Documentary legal planning

Get permission from the event planners to put a big sign at the entrance stating that by entering the festival, they agree to be on camera.

Also, if the festival is held in a public place, people have no expectation of privacy, so technically you're allowed to do videotape them. Having a sign is still a good idea though.
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Old March 29th, 2013, 12:52 PM   #3
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Re: Documentary legal planning

+1 for what Edward said. Especially if it's an outdoor festival. Around here they run a lot of them and every news station is out there shooting as well as other people. But a sign couldn't hurt and shoot a few seconds of it in place and in context to the event so you've got it archived just in case! CYA!
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Old March 29th, 2013, 04:11 PM   #4
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Re: Documentary legal planning

Find out from the event folk if you CAN make a documentary and put up a sign. They may already have given or sold the rights to another company
and plan to sell a DVD or b/cast their own doco .. with a sponsor.

Apart from weekend shooters, if you turn up unannounced with a tripod and your gear, their security might have something to say.
If they say go ahead, I'd ask for written permission you can show to any security or police. At airshows we always have laminated passes,
hanging around our necks. (Never leave gear unattended, last year a couple of clowns turned up with fake passes and tried to walk off with our cases)

Then the festival folk might expect to see your video and as programs of this kind for tv usually run minimum 20-25mins, that's a lot to fill at a festival.

You should aim to shoot at least a 2:1 ratio, that's twice as much as you'll need so you'll have a selection when you edit.
This shoot could well take a couple of days with festival set up scenes, interviews with the organisers and staff and a good narration track.
Good luck with it.

Cheers.
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Last edited by Allan Black; March 29th, 2013 at 05:01 PM. Reason: I'm an optimist
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Old March 29th, 2013, 07:40 PM   #5
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Re: Documentary legal planning

Thanks Allen, Yes, I have their permission/approval and am meeting with their committee next week. They have been talking about this idea for years and I came along to be the right guy at the right time. I wish to do this for the experience and portfolio, and if its "good quality", make a DVD for sale. If I were creating this solely for the web, I would probably "just do it" as Nike says, but since I anticipate selling a DVD I better have all my bases covered. We will be discussing programs so we both get a piece of the pie, no matter how small or large that pie is! I have the time and the story, now I just need to get the business end covered so I can move on to the fun stuff...
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Old March 29th, 2013, 08:25 PM   #6
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Re: Documentary legal planning

Darryn, no offence but reply posters spelling my name Allen, when right above you it's spelt Allan, shows a distinct lack of attention to detail .. so watch out. That's exactly the trait that'll bring you undone with your venture, so shape up baby you're in the big time :)

Also the organisers should supply permissions from their stall owners, traders and their staff, so you don't get stopped by any of them.
By the time you get there, they should have alerted all of them, but you can bet they won't. That'll be up to you, always ask before you shoot
and show your official pass. But if anyone objects, just leave the area and always .. stay cool.

Cheers.
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