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Old May 7th, 2003, 02:18 PM   #1
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Shooting doc at high school...releases!!!

Hey guys--I think I'm about to enter a legal quagmire of sorts. I'm about to start filming a doc in Oregon and part of my shooting will be at the local high school. I have the cooperation of the school district and of course will get signed releases for anyone I interview directly on camera (I assume their parents will need to sign if they are under age?). Will I have to do the same, get releases, for anyone who appears on camera, though? Here I mean just basic b-roll, where kids may be identifiable but will not be interviewed or talking on camera. I think I know the answer to this, yes, but I'm just wondering if there's any smart way I can get around this. I'm familiar with the posting signs method but of course these are minors so I"m not sure it'd work with them. Anyway, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Peter
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Old May 7th, 2003, 02:51 PM   #2
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Some schools I have worked with have blanket exemptions signed at the beginning of each school year. That's probably too much to hope for. I would consult with the school districts attorneys and go with their decision.
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Old May 7th, 2003, 03:34 PM   #3
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Thanks Jeff, great suggestion. Now I will keep my fingers crossed...
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Old May 7th, 2003, 04:01 PM   #4
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Peter,

When dealing with minors, you need to get their parents to sign a release.

No exceptions.
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Old May 7th, 2003, 04:21 PM   #5
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Thanks Richard. Do the students also have to sign, or just the parent/legal guardian?

Peter
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Old May 7th, 2003, 05:00 PM   #6
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Here is my experience. I was shooting for a school. Early on I gave the administrators release forms to be sent home with the students of the classes where I was shooting. (My project was specific to two grades so there was no issue of the school at large.) The releases were never sent out, the project wrapped up and I held my breath. So far no problems. I was being paid by the school. I had provided them with release forms, so I figured it was more their problem than mine. (I know that is wishful thinking, but so be it.)

This year I understand that video and photography release forms are included in the yearly enrollment package along with imunizationand all the other forms to be signed and sent back.

Be sure to check with the school administrators. Many, if not most schools these days include releases like the school I worked for now does. If the school you are shootiing in does not, attempt to get signed releases from the parents, not the students, of everyone who is the focus of the shoot. Students in the background will probably be less of a problem (though anyone can sue anyone for anything.)

As long as you work closely with the school adminstrators, act in good faith and do all you can to get releases, there shouldn't be problems.
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Old May 7th, 2003, 05:24 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice Rick. Checking with the administrators will definitely be my first step. Beyond that I will probably do as you suggest and just send home releases with parents and cross my fingers that they come back.

Here's another idea that I had, just to make this whole thing easier: taking Polaroids of a person when I get their release and stapling it to the release--this will make identifying them in footage a lot easier so I know who I can and cannot use. Anybody else have any tricks like this that they use? Thanks,

Peter
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Old May 7th, 2003, 05:34 PM   #8
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If the project is for the school then you shouldn't need anybodies permission other than the schools. The general release of the students going to school should cover that area. I know that mine did because we always had photographers at the school taking pictures for the school to advertise and use in promotions.

Other than that get permission from all adults responsible. Otherwise they can at anytime sue you/company. Oh. Make sure the student doesn't forge their parents signature.lol I know that will be hard to check but still. Maybe ask for the forms to be handed out during an assembly.

Rob:D
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Old May 7th, 2003, 06:06 PM   #9
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Thanks Robert. The doc will not be for the school, but thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely be wary of forged signatures, though, so thanks for the heads up. What exactly is my recourse here? Am I basically SOL if the sig is forged? I don't imagine this being an issue, but just in case...

Peter
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Old May 7th, 2003, 06:17 PM   #10
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There got to be some sense of fairness here though, if the release is signed, outside of getting the darn thing notorized, why would it be your responsibility to check if the signatures were forged. I don't think there is a jury/judge that will find you liable if some kid forged a signature, unless you forged it...:) I wouldn't lose much sleep over it.
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Old May 7th, 2003, 06:20 PM   #11
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Thats what I was thinking/hoping Garrett. I don't see how I can be expected to verify all these releases. Does anyone know the rules on this?

Peter
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Old May 7th, 2003, 06:39 PM   #12
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Just spoke with an attorney and emphasizing that this is not legal advice to you or anyone else who reads this. The facts we spoke about was of a hypothetical matter not your specific incident. You should always consult an attorney regarding any legal concerns that you may have. I also would like to clear up that I am not an attorney and is not soliciting or offering to give you legal advice in any way. In other words this is for entertainment purposes and for the purpose of an educational debate.

If a waiver is forged then technically there is no release or waiver. With that said you do stand the risk of being sued. Since you will be the own who would benefit the most from infringing on their rights regardless of the innocence of your intentions are. But then again they may not sue, you may not want to lose sleep over it.
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Old May 7th, 2003, 06:42 PM   #13
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Thanks Garrett. That is what I was assuming/fearing. Honestly I'm not too worried about this, but as we all know we live in a very litigous society so I figure it's best to protect myself as best as possible. I will probably just go to the school first and see what they say, and then break out the releases...

Peter
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Old May 7th, 2003, 06:44 PM   #14
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May I also say what a great forum this is! In the course of a few hours I have gotten a lot of really great advice (that of course is not legally binding) from you guys. Thanks for helping me out and I hope to repay the favor in the future.

Peter
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Old May 7th, 2003, 08:47 PM   #15
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Peter,
Do you have a company? Is this company personally tied to you? If so you might want to think about creating a LLC that way you will be treated as a seperate entity. So they cannot come after your personal property if they do wish to sue. Just a though. Other than that I wish you luck. Also you might want to check out a documentary that was done back in the 60's called High School. Well I think that is what it was called. Maybe something else with 60's or so. If anyone knows and has seen it what a great film. Maybe they can give you the title.

Rob:D
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