1.7. Legal forms

There are a number of legalities to be aware of when you are filming. Some first time or student film makers skip these an perhaps you can get away with it if you are shooting something for just your family and friends. However , every film makeknows a story about someone who shot a brilliant film and was unable to have it shown anywhere because they didn’t bo with the legal administration. There are several areas you must cover legally:

1. Artistic Copyright
2. Talent Release
3. Branding
4. Location Permissions

Artistic Copyright

Your script is the intellectual property of the writer. Therefore, unless you are the writer, you need a contract which gives y permission to use the script. An example is given in Appendix 1c.

With the internet we now have more choice of music than ever before. It’s easy to find a song or music piece that will fit perfectly with your film. However, in the vast majority of cases you won’t b able to use it. Clearing the rights to use music in film is generally a tedious and complicated business. Firstly there are the publishing rights to be cleared. These are the rights that belong to whomever owns the music. This could be the composer or it could be someone who has bought those rights from the composer – such as a record company. Secondly there are the performance rights. These are the rights that belong to whomever is playing or singing the version of the piece of music or song you want to use. In many cases the owner of these rights will be someone different from the person who owns the publishing rights. Finally you have the recording rights. These are the rights that belong to the person who recorded the performer and, again, this is quite often someone totally different to the owner or owners of the other two rights. Are you getting an idea of how complex and potentially expensive it often proves to be to clear all of those rights? The answer is to find some royalty free music – music where the owner, performer and recordist of the piece have waived their rights and will allow anyone to use their music – or to phone that friend that you know in a band that is not signed to a record label and ask if they want to have their music in film. The benefit of this is that you can ask them to give you versions of songs with and without the lyrics. Unsigned band will usually be glad to give their music for free in exchange for the exposure that their music will receive. Again, you will need to have the band sign a legal form to say that they allow you to use their music. See Appendix 1d.

Talent Release
You don’t need the permission of every passerby to film general people in a public place but when someone Is featured in your film you need to get him or her to sign a talent release form (Appendix 1e). This can often be a bit off-putting to the person signing it because it asks for permission to use the audio or video recording in any manner in any part of the universe. In addition, to make it legally binding, money must change hands – even if it is merely €1. It ’s a good idea, therefore, to get this out of the way before you film anything. It is frustrating to waste time filming someone only to have him or her refuse to sign the talent release form afterwards.

Logos and brands are subject to copyright. Featuring a brand, therefore, without the copyright owner’s permission can get you into all sorts of trouble. In addition, many television stations and festivals will have difficulties showing your film if it features logos and brands. If, for example, one of your characters is drinking branded water, it is best to simply turn the label away from the camera. In my film “Whatever Turns You On” I obtained permissions from Harvey Norman© and Sony©.

Location Permissions
For privately owned property, permission to film is negotiated directly with the owner. Public property, however, often has a degree of red tape to get through. Filming in public places often requires the permission of the local town or city council. They will often ask for such things as proof of public liability insurance and your health and safety policy documents. Public transport authorities may ask for these documents as well as demanding that you pay to have a member of their staff on set. If you are shooting on a small project you have two choices: to approach the authority and be prepared to satisfy their demands or to proceed with your filming with the understanding that you may be asked to stop. Filming is a costly business in money, time or both so, in the latter case, minimize your chances of being interrupted by keeping your equipment and crew to a minimum and cause as little disruption to the public as possible.

Brands and logos are subject to copyright
It is best to treat them in the same way as you treat the subject of talent release - if a brand or logo appears as a natural part of a scene in the background then it is not being featured and you should have no problem. If you are featuring a brand or logo, however, it is safest to seek permission.

Written and Practical Assignment
1. Prepare appropriate legal forms for your production

2. Secure a script contract with the writer of your project