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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old December 7th, 2003, 05:09 PM   #1
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shooting event docu-style - need tips?


i am looking to possible make a short documentary at an event in february.

it would be strictly for the group having the convention and hopeful submission to film-fests.

the core of the event is a couple of evening musical performances and i need both technical and some legal tips...

first off, there are going to be up to 500 people at the event.

it will take place at a hotel in a wedding function type room(s)

do i need to get every person who appears in the background to sound a release? i assume i have to get a release from anyone featured/interviewed?

i may have the opportunity to get the person putting on the event to get something inserted in the admission materials a disclaimer that it will be taped for a documentary.

does anyone have any experience with that? any sample language?

i may have a little bit of help available but i'm going under the premise that it will be me wandering around with the camera and wireless lavalier, but so much of it will be most like a wedding where you are just trying to capture what happens spontaneously without much warning ahead of time.

i thought about perhaps picking one or two people and following them throughout the event, but i thought it might be better to just take it as it goes.

audio might be a big problem because of the size of the crowd.

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Old December 7th, 2003, 08:56 PM   #2
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I hope this is a paid job because it sounds like you'll be putting in a lot of hours on this.

I would suggest that you do this:

Hire (or somehow acuire) a second camera operator. One of you shoot the event just as an event videographer would. The entire concert, every speech, and so forth. Then, the other person shoots it in a more b-roll type style just going around and getting the 5 and 10 sec. shots that detail the day. Get some good cutaways because you'll need them and get some good nat sound.

And both of you should work together to do the interviews. It will make them good smoother and help the people being interviewed.

As for the legal advice, you need to talk with the people who are paying you to do the production work. If the video is going to be broadcast or presented (which it will be) then you'll need a waiver signed by every person interviewed and a general release to cover the wide shots and general people shots. The general release will need to be worked out with the people doing the event. They also need to get you written permission to use the music and footage that the bands play during the event.

Ben Lynn
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Old December 8th, 2003, 02:43 AM   #3
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Freedom of the press

Ben's tips on how to shoot this are good but I have to question the legal advice... and I do mean question it, not dismiss it.

I started out as a newspaper reporter, then moved into photography then PR and finally video documentary production. Every now and again, people I interview will say to me something like: "You can't print/publish that without my permission."

Well the answer is: "Oh yes I can." We have a professional code of conduct which says journalists must make people that they are journalists before conducting quoteable interviews. Provided I've done that, anything anyone says to me can be used in news story provided it doesn't defame someone.

The bit about disclosing your professional status isn't even a legal thing; it's just a code of practice but almost all journalists stick to it.

When it comes to pictures, the situation is slightly different. I can go down town right now and take a picture with, say, 100 faces in it and none of those people can stop me from publishing that picture anywhere I like.

I know UK and US laws on libel and freedom of the press are slightly different but I'm fairly sure the same basic principals apply. The point about release forms is just to make ABSOLUTELY sure that your talent knows what they are doing and has ABSOLUTELY no come back.

It's seems to me Ben that doing things your way would make all newsgathering completely impractical. Comments please.
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Old December 8th, 2003, 10:22 AM   #4
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I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV BUT it's my experience that if the event is being broadcast as a private event you do not need their permission, if it is being broadcast as news you do not need their permission, if it is being broadcast as a paid for production,i.e.; a movie where profit will be generated to someone you MIGHT need their permission. Look at documentaries made over the last 50 years, I doubt there were many waivers or releases signed.
I did a job over the summer, there were 400 people attending this seminar, I videod just about everything and everybody, edited to a 30 minute highlight, produced hundreds of tapes for them and haven't been sued by anyone and won't be either.
Just make sure the event planners give you some kind of credential (it will help eliminate some questions from the attendees) and have someone standing by to be your go between in case someone questions the legalities of your being there and doing your job.
Have fun,
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Old December 8th, 2003, 10:51 AM   #5
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ok, to clarify, it is NOT a professional job, it is a group that i am loosely invovled with, they didn't ask for it to be taped, i just thought it might make a good documentary project and a great chance of getting experience with a tough job where there won't be much pressure because i'm doing it just because i want to!

if it comes out well i'll give a copy to the group and they can sell it to attendees as a fundraiser (it is a non-profit)

but other than that its just for fun.

i have to get my head around what i want to do and then i'm going to talk to the friend who is in charge of the event

i'm pretty sure they'd be thrilled to get it on tape.

i do have a friend who might be able to help out, i just wanted to see what i could do on my own with one really good camera and wireless audio.

if i get my act together it is early enough to get something into the registration literature where they sign a disclaimer/release.

i'm trying to figure out the angle i'm going for, more a general event where i wander around and try and get the highlights, or should i try and tell the story by following 1 or 2 select attendees?

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Old December 8th, 2003, 12:15 PM   #6
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From what you describe you should be absolutley fine with the shoot as far as legalities, sounds sorta similar to the job I did last summer.
As for how to shoot it well that of course is up to you but just to tell you what I did; I set up on a tripod and used my wireless and plugged into the mixer board for the seminars and speakers. When I wanted to move around the room a bit I just unplugged from the mixer and used the wireless. For the outside stuff (I was in Maui for this job so there was stuff going on out doors as well) I basically just used my ME66 on the 150 and off I went. Since my edit was a highlite package a lot of the audio was covered.
I guess it depends on the story you want to tell.
Good Luck,
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Old December 8th, 2003, 01:33 PM   #7
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Speaking strictly as a potential viewer: I don't find following an audience member particularly interesting unless there's a special reason to focus on that person's story, in which case the event itself would become secondary. I would much rather see "backstage" and preparatory stuff, if that is possible. If it is, and rehearsals of any kind are involved, it probably also gives you a better opportunity to find out what key issues are for the producers and performers and to set up shots and get footage and audio that can be cut in with excerpts from the performance itself later? (You seem to be saying that your primary audience for your documentary will be the performers. They will probably love seeing themselves at all stages of production.)
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Old December 8th, 2003, 02:32 PM   #8
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actually let me describe it a little bit better, i'm doing it for the attendees and for folks who couldn't go but might go if they saw what it was like.

the best example i can give is sort of like burning man, not quite as crazy or nowhere near as big, but definitely people in somewha odd attire and the music is the excuse for it but definitely not the focus.

the focus is the people, not any one person but just the assemblage of people for common sillyness with an underlying excuse of raising money from the event for a worthy cause.

i emailed the director of the event and he is thrilled with the idea and he will arrange everything as far as attendees being told that it is going on, that it is sanctioned and hopefully putting something in their sign-in stuff where they agree to possibly being in it.

i need to get more feedback on how i should shoot it as far as style, not necessarily technically.

it will often be loud and dark-ish so some tech tips might be good too! but at the heart of it i'm worried more about style.

i want to come away with enough footage that when i goto edit it down i come across with a great story, but i don't want to write the story ahead of time, because then it wouldn't be a documentary!

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Old December 8th, 2003, 03:36 PM   #9
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I shoot several exhibitions every year where there are probably 1,000 or more people that appear in the video at one time or another.

It is totally impractical to get written permission from everyone. Or even some of them.

I've yet to even have a single person ask me to not tape them. If they did, I wouldn't. Most of them fall all over themselves to get their models into the video. I only hear about it if I miss a model and the owner bought the tape.

These tapes are sold around the world within the 100,000 or so people out there that practice Model Engineering. Never been a peep.

As a practical matter, it isn't, TO ME, much of a risk.

Of course I could be sued. But I'm not worried about it in that specific context.
Mike Rehmus
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Old December 8th, 2003, 04:32 PM   #10
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well i'm feeling pretty safe for this project, the organizer is very excited at the concept and is going to do a lot to let people know it is being taped and i think he'll be putting something in the disclaimer for the attendance form they have to sign that covers me just in case.

i'm just doing it for fun, it would be neat to get it into a film-fest, but mostly i want to make a documentary and i want to have no restraints (i.e. anyone else telling me what to put in it or not in it etc) so unless someone specifically asks me not to film something i'm going to shoot at will and try and see what story is there to be told.

i have a stack of books on documentaries and one or two of them are actually good!

i'm going to keep searching for more ideas and examples.

sundance is having documentary mondays every monday and its interesting to see some of the CRAP that is good enough to show!

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