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    Stealing locations
    #1
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    I'm having trouble finding a clear answer on this. Would anyone here happen to know? -- If you steal a location, and no one stops you at time of filming, what are the implications down the track? Let's say it's a commercial project.

    If the footage is already in the can, can the property owner bar you from using it? Will potential buyers/distributors refuse to touch the project? Or if the movie is already out there, is there the possibility of being sued?

    I'm thinking of any and all locations -- from private residences to hotels, car parks, filming from inside a car in a car park, theme parks, shopping malls, trains, national parks, roads.

    Frankly, there seem to be many instances even in feature films where where people haven't got full permission. For instance, microbudget indie projects often steal subway, road and forest locations; and there are documentaries where people have filmed dodgy goings-on with hidden cameras. (Or is news/documentary some sort of special case?)


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    If you reach the stage where you engage a distributor there's a chance you'll need to have releases for all of the locations and a Script clearance report. It depends on who and what and dollars involved.


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    #3
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    If you want to distribute your film, you'll need to show you have clearances and rights to various locations - this you will need to show to a distributor, or they won't distribute your film. Remember, you'll need to have a lawyer certify that you are not in breach of any copyright laws with that film, or it won't get shown anywhere - this certification will cost thousands of dollars (either you or the distributor will have to cover that). For locations, many are actually even copyrighted and you may not show them without having to go through the rightsholders and paying hefty fees, like for example for the Hollywood sign in LA.


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    Senior Member keylight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paper_bag View Post
    I'm having trouble finding a clear answer on this. Would anyone here happen to know? -- If you steal a location, and no one stops you at time of filming, what are the implications down the track? Let's say it's a commercial project.

    If the footage is already in the can, can the property owner bar you from using it? Will potential buyers/distributors refuse to touch the project? Or if the movie is already out there, is there the possibility of being sued?

    I'm thinking of any and all locations -- from private residences to hotels, car parks, filming from inside a car in a car park, theme parks, shopping malls, trains, national parks, roads.

    Frankly, there seem to be many instances even in feature films where where people haven't got full permission. For instance, microbudget indie projects often steal subway, road and forest locations; and there are documentaries where people have filmed dodgy goings-on with hidden cameras. (Or is news/documentary some sort of special case?)
    Yes, news is a special case. Documentaries not as much. Feature films, not at all.

    Public locations (subway, roads, forests) you can generally get away with stealing shots in terms of not worrying so much about getting releases after-the-fact.

    Private property is where you'll want to get permission. Honestly, regardless of whether or not your work is destined for distribution. Comes down to acting like a professional in order to be a professional.

    Furthermore, if you're shooting on private property and can actually get the shots you need by "stealing" use of the location, there's really no reason for you NOT to ask for permission. Your footprint is clearly very small and you're very unlikely to disrupt their business with your shooting, and a lot of places will let you shoot. Just be prepared to cover them with your insurance. That along with not shooting anything that might defame or harm their image. These are the things they'll generally want to see addressed.

    EDIT:

    Quote Originally Posted by OldCorpse View Post
    If you want to distribute your film, you'll need to show you have clearances and rights to various locations - this you will need to show to a distributor, or they won't distribute your film. Remember, you'll need to have a lawyer certify that you are not in breach of any copyright laws with that film, or it won't get shown anywhere - this certification will cost thousands of dollars (either you or the distributor will have to cover that). For locations, many are actually even copyrighted and you may not show them without having to go through the rightsholders and paying hefty fees, like for example for the Hollywood sign in LA.
    Old Corpse is right about clearing everything by the way.

    I *think* the Hollywood sign is a trademark issue, not copyright.

    Buildings before December 1, 1990 are not copyright. After that date they are, but you can still generally photograph them without permission providing they are located in or can be seen from a public place. However, like with the Hollywood sign, there could be trademark issues for some buildings.

    Oh, and statues or works of art in public plazas, or in front of private buildings that are visible from public property? Those may be copyrighted and could need clearance.

    Of course, this is all for in the U.S. In Australia I have no idea.
    Last edited by keylight; 07-26-2013 at 11:36 AM.


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    I am finding that nobody wants any filming done on their property around here, but I don't live in a place that has frequent filming like New York or LA. I am attempting to solve the problem with green screening and stealing locations here and there. I am not distributing the film though, just online.


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    Senior Member Allan Black's Avatar
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    I can say that today any commercial film project in Sydney (at least) has to have all clearances from the owners of any property that appears on screen
    or proprietry names mentioned in the dialogue or subtitles. On big films there are staff who do this.

    Most won't be trouble but I've seen an officious council ranger stop a student film down by the harbour here. Apparently he wanted to see approvals from the owners of all the houses in shot and a receipt for the Nth Sydney council fee. $A90 I think it was.

    Most applications will go though but be prepared for any objections that might arise, eg: religious, military police or security etc.

    Get them all signed and sealed well before the shoot, carry them all with you and alert any security when you arrive to set up.

    What you include in your written clearance is another matter, but try and keep it plain and simple. The more you detail the more some ppl will get suspicious, some will want money!

    If it's already in the can or out there, you didn't do your homework and it could come back to bite you years later.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Allan Black; 07-26-2013 at 07:05 PM.
    35yrs with our own a/v production company and studios.


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    Quote Originally Posted by mtan View Post
    I am finding that nobody wants any filming done on their property around here, but I don't live in a place that has frequent filming like New York or LA. I am attempting to solve the problem with green screening and stealing locations here and there. I am not distributing the film though, just online.
    Posting online IS public distribution. You might not be dealing with a distributor but you're engaging in distribution and all of the legalities surrounding distribution that someone in the business of film distribution has to deal with now apply equally to you. Your best bet is to visit a lawyer and get definitive answers that will apply in your jurisdiction - what someone tells you is the case in the USA, for example, may be completely irrelevant to you or the OP who is in Oz.

    It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who seem to think that because they're not Sony Pictures the laws surrounding copyright, trademarks, photo releases, music rights, property rights, etc, etc, don't really apply to them. Not true. As soon as you make a film with the intention of showing it to an audience beyond your immediate circle of friends and family you've moved into the Big Boys ball-park and all the rules they have to play by apply equally to you.
    Last edited by Steve House; 07-27-2013 at 07:07 AM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by keylight View Post


    I *think* the Hollywood sign is a trademark issue, not copyright.


    Sounds about right!

    Buildings before December 1, 1990 are not copyright. After that date they are, but you can still generally photograph them without permission providing they are located in or can be seen from a public place. However, like with the Hollywood sign, there could be trademark issues for some buildings.
    It's true that in the states they have muddied the water by bringing buildings in the scope of copyright law recently but it's still okay to take photographs as the law only relates to making physical copies of the building itself. Personally I think it's daft and is going to lead to messy stuff down the line, but thats up to the USA I guess.

    Freya




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    #9
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    Now that you have already shot your footage go to those owners and ask them very nicely to use the shot...you might have to show it to them... "I was doing some shooting and your buildng happened to be in the background. I do not use or show your building in a negative manner, would I be able to use my footage with your building in the shot.....etc, etc, etc. I will give you screen credit if you like..."

    I've done this in the past and it worked fo rme. Get them to sign a release.

    Go for it!


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    #10
    Steak Knife Member David G. Smith's Avatar
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    We do live in a very litigious world, but this issue still has to be a matter of degree and within reason. If you want to shoot in front of a person's home or place of business, and prominently show the building, then yeah, you had better get permission, in writing. But, let's say that you are shooting car interiors where you can see see the street and buildings outside of the windows. It would hardly be reasonable that you would need written permission from the owner of every building that shows up in the back ground out the windows. Let's say that you are shooting a, for example, music video on the roof top of a building, and see your city's skyline in the background. Now, you had better get permission from the owner of the building you are shooting from and get it before hand to work out liability issues. However, it is absolutely unreasonable to be expected to get the permission of the owner of every building that is seen in the skyline background of your shots from the roof. Now there might be issues with the municipalities that you are shooting in and their permit requirements. I would see if there is a local film office that can help you navigate those kind of questions.

    If you are shooting from a roof top and one of the talent points to a building, you cut to a shot of the building and the talent comments on it... then you need permission. It is a matter of degrees and reason. As a practical consideration, when shooting in situations like this, give your self good coverage of alternative angles and such, so that if you do run into problems latter, you have editing options to work around them.
    "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations"
    -Orson Wells.

    "To me the great hope is... people that normally wouldn't be making movies will make them and suddenly some little fat girl in Ohio will be the new Mozart and will make a beautiful film using her father's camera-corder and the "Professionalism" of movie making will be destroyed forever and it will finally become an art form."
    -Francis Ford Coppola.


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