keep it legal

Keep it Legal.  Legalities are both important and unavoidable.  Many has been the producer who tried to cut corners only to have it come back and bite him- HARD!   Don't get caught in an easily avoided trap.    If you are making a movie get signed releases from anyone and for anything that gets in front of your camera. Releases are legal documents granting you the permmison to use something in your prduction.  If  you are doing other kind of work it may not be necessary but still not a bad idea.  As long as you have  a signed release, signed by the right person,  saying you can put something on screen you're in pretty good shape legal wise.  (I'm not a lawyer and don't pretend to have any definitive legal answers.  If you have questions ask a lawyer.)  If you don't have a release and someone wants to ruin your day you're toast.  Releases are cheap and easy  C.Y.A.   Insurance. 
For more detailed information on when, why and where to use releases read further or to cut to the chase  by clicking the link below.
legal release forms click here

Have you ever seen a video that includes public shots and some of the faces are blurred out?  No, that's not a glitch in the tape or bad post production.  It's because the producers did not secure releases from those people, and if they use their images, they are laying themselves open for lots of legal problems.   That also goes for something as seemingly neutral as license plates.  They can be traced back to individuals and there you have it.

How do you know if what you are doing requires releases?  Remember that it's better to be safe than sorry.  Getting releases from everybody you use as a subject is better than facing a problem down the road.  There is a downside to securing them however, the impression you create in the mind of your customer. 

If you primarily do portraits, weddings or other events where the intent of your work is to sell the the final product to the people being photographed, there is little need for releases.  (Asking  them may even upset some clients of this type as they may wonder what you plan on using their image for.) So long as you don't ever use any of that footage in a sale that will profit you in any other than the original way, then you should be fine.  If you still would like a release then word it such that the client knows exactly what their image will be used for (portfolio,  ads for your studio, etc.)

It is when you step over into that realm of
video and photography in which you will be working with actors and models to provide products for TV, advertising, magazines, newspapers, or your own or anybody else's movies or any other purpose in which you are selling the images profit is when a release is essential.  Professional actors and models do this for a living and they understandably want to be compensated for their efforts and their image. This area of professional photography is tremendously lucrative because you are working at a higher tier of professionalism than photographing the public to provide them with portrait level pictures.   Because it is such a profitable arena of professional photography, the competition to make those sales is stiff to be sure.

When you are working with professional talent securing talent releases is pretty much accepted procedure and never a problem.  They are working for you and they know the final product is for sale and their agents and lawyers do all the legwork so the releases are routine and understood.  Don’t let this detail go unattended to.  Your customers, those TV  stations, magazines or ad agencies who look to you for professional work, are assuming you have this covered and that they can count on you to deliver not only quality work, but work that has been legally released.  If you get them sued you're out of  business.  If you get sued you're likely ruined.

The difficulties come if you shoot in a public place such as a park, a mall or anywhere that there may be traffic that becomes part of the shot.  If you complete the shoot and discover that the perfect shot that fits you or your customers needs just happens to have miscellaneous members of the public in the background, you have to have releases from them or you cannot use the shot. (General Release)  If your shot has any minor children in it (anyone under 18) you must get a minor release signed by thier parent or legal gaurdian.  A minor's cannot  by law give thier consent to anything.  Remember to get location releases or you still can't use the shot, especially if there are any signs or other things that would identify the location as a specific place.  It doesn't matter if that place is Disney World or Joe's Corner Mart.

You could try to secure those releases on the spot, but if the people you are trying to convince to sign releases know you are going to use their images for profit, you get into another whole level of negotiation.  You don’t want to blur their faces out on the shot as that looks unprofessional and is totally out of the question in a movie where you what to create a virtual world.  You could Photo shop them out in a still shoot but that may lose the spontaneity of the shot.

It’s best to stage the shot from start to finish.  If you want traffic to be occurring around your actor, bring in extras who can do the job for you.  You will have to pay them or at least feed them, but you know that the shot is clean.  Remember when you sell the shot, you are going to get questions about whether those actors were paid and if you have releases on them.  
Finally make sure you get  a material release for anything you use in your production that is the intellectual property of someone else.  This includes the script that your best buddy wrote, the song your brother wrote and played, as well as the song you downloaded.   These are someone elses intellectual property and can get you in big trouble if you don't have the proper releases. This is especially true if your production has any commercial success.  More than one friendship  has ended over a little money and don't forget Cain and Abel.   Be safe and be smart - get releases.
You can find  standard release forms on this  page or your lawyer can help you develop one that covers the legalities you need handled but also reflects how you want to handle this issue.   Don’t let this issue slide through the cracks.  By protecting yourself you can do good business and profitable business, but above all a legal business in perusing your professional career.

Release Forms for Film and Video 
Obtaining Proper WRITTEN PERMISSIONS (Releases) is the responsibility of the producer. 
Below are five common releases:
Sorry, I am not a lawyer and therefore I am unable to give you legal opinions on these matters. Use at your own risk.  Neither I nor PrimalCine assume any responsibility nor liability for their use. That said, save any of these release forms that you need or want, use them freely,  proofread and rewrite as the need arises and if you have any questions ask a lawyer.

Downloading releases will open a new page/tab outside of PrimalCine.

1) General Release Form which should be used for non-actors (extras and the like)
General Release Form in RTF

General Release Form in TXT

2) Talent Release Form to be used for actors and models (people you have to pay)
Talent Release Form in RTF

Talent Release Form in TXT

3) Minor Release Form which MUST be signed by a parent or guardian
Minor Release Form in RTF

Minor Release Form Form in TXT

4) Materials Release Form is used for obtaining permission to use photographs, video, or other media which may be copyrighted or owned by others.
Materials Release Form in RTF

Materials Release Form in TXT

5) Location Release Form when you wish to photograph, videotape or record real property which you do not own.
Location Release Form in RFT

Location Release Form in  TXT
Caveat - Use at your own risk. Neither I nor PrimalCine assume any responsibility nor liability for their use.

Sorry, I am unable to give you legal opinions on these matters.   Save any of these release forms that you need or want, use them freely,  proofread and rewrite as the need arises,  and if you have any questions ask a lawyer.