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    Recommendations on a good lawyer to look over your documentary
    #1
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    So long story but we made a documentary when we were 20 years old.

    http://shredamericafilm.com

    We didn't know what we were doing we just filmed stuff and made it into a documentary...we didn't get release forms...luckily about 85% of the film is just us and we can get the MAJORITY of release forms even 5 years later. I'm not sure what is safe in a documentary to film. Our current lawyer is giving us the advice to get all releases or blur otherwise we risk not getting distribution.

    We would like a second opinion. To see if there's any loopholes in documentary and how can we protect ourselves and ensure our first documentary is seen by the public.


    Thanks and feel free to PM me if anything.
    Arthur


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    Member digital_walnut's Avatar
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    If you're located in California, I recommend getting a referral through California Lawyers for the Arts:
    http://www.calawyersforthearts.org/

    They do a pretty good job matching people to lawyers that specialize in whatever kind of help they need (at least they did when I needed some tax law and intellectual property law advice when starting a nonprofit). If you're outside CA, there's a chance your state or country has a similar organization.


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    Senior Member arniepix's Avatar
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    Distributors will insist that you buy E&O insurance as a condition of their buying your film. E&O will require releases for everyone. No release = no insurance = no deal.
    Post production is not an afterthought!
    www.arniepix.com


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    #4
    Senior Member Duke M.'s Avatar
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    I'm afraid what arniepix said is right. It's not news in a public place. People have an expectation of privacy. Once you expect to make money or benefit yourself you can't use their image (face, character, etc) without permission. Get releases. Failing that...

    If people in the background aren't facing you, or they're blurred from DOF and not recognisable you'd be okay. You can also create artificial DOF blur even if you have to do it one frame at a time.


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    #5
    Senior Member adkimery's Avatar
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    Not just releases for people but releases/licenses for music (both music you added in post and possibly even music recorded incidentally on location), art (such as the painting in the back ground of the interview clip in the trailer), logos (potentially), photos, etc.,. Basically you have to account for every frame of audio and video in the doc and have paper work to show that you have secured the propers rights to use all of it.


    -Andrew
    Looking For Lenny - feature doc about comedian Lenny Bruce's timeless impact on stand-up comedy and Free Speech.
    Netflix
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    Cable VOD & streaming info


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    #6
    Coffee Member Jay Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Hey man, congrats on your screening coming yp in 2018, I bet you guys poured a lot into making this happen
    Twitter: jayscorsese


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    I'd say unless you think a distributor is going to pick up the film, just let it go as is, especially if you are going to self-distribute the film.

    Who would sue you and for what?

    It is easy to become paranoid and worry about all the potential legalities, but most low-budget filmmakers wouldn't be able to do much of anything if they had to comply 100% with everything. For instance, can you show someone drinking from a can of Coke? Is Coke going to sue you? My understanding is that as long as a product is being used for its intended purpose, then you don't need the company's permission. Does this mean Coke might come after you? I doubt it, but it is theoretically possible. It all becomes just a little too much, if you know what I mean. But my thinking is if someone wanted to sue me over something like that, I'd turn it into a documentary.

    I do agree with getting releases from anyone with a title credit and for music, but other than that, I wouldn't worry about it.

    When you make the big time and have deep pockets, then you will need attorneys, but until then, I say just get your movie out there.


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    Senior Member cyclone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karma17 View Post
    I say just get your movie out there.
    Right on.
    I did that and my doc got distribution.


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Don't forget location releases too. I made a film about racing in 2004 and went through hell to get releases from the race track owner (race organizer rented our race track) but distributor wouldn't move forward without the release. Smart producers hire a PA and get releases for everything (location, talent, artwork, music, etc.) from everyone at the time they shoot. In my experience, the longer you wait to get releases, the greater the chances are, for various reasons, you may not get one.

    I shot an interview with a doctor the other day for a documentary I am producing and while the doctor signed a talent release, she wasn't authorized to sign a location release. The agreement I have with the building owner is I am going to wait to see if distributor requires location release. If they do, I will go back to them to have them sign it. The room was very generic and non-descript so we'll see if the E&O writer will require that. Talent releases and music, artwork releases are a given but location releases seem spotty when it comes to distribution, some require them, some don't. Kind of ridiculous for a documentary, it makes more sense for a narrative type project where you are scouting/renting/putting a location at risk by shooting in it. One or two person crew with a camera and some LED panels us pretty low risk but nonetheless, some places are sticklers.
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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    Why didn't you use longboards?
    Am a Sound Recordist in New Zealand: http://ironfilm.co.nz/sound/
    Follow my vlog and adventures in sound: https://www.youtube.com/c/SoundSpeeding


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