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March 14, 2009 at 3:07 AM #40269AnonymousInactive
Without getting into any legal entanglements…what does a person have to do in order to make a feature film projectbased on something that actually happened…like say something that made headlines in the news and you’re wanting to make a film based off thematerial.
If you do a direct take on it but change the people’s names…are you in the clear??? Or are you going to have to ask permission or get some kind of documentation specifying it’s okay to do so from the families and theirlawyers to who it concerns.
Would a producer be better off just taking the events and put their own spin on it in order to avoid a big legal mess. Just looking for advice or if someone can navigate me to some website they know that can point me in the right direction. Any help is appreciated.
March 16, 2009 at 7:09 PM #173032EarlCMember
“Without getting into any legal entanglements…” – hnprod
Actually, that’s where it all is, the “legal entanglements.”
Virtually EVERY question, or point, in your post goes back to your very real need to obtain legal, licensed legal advice from an attorney who specializes in this area of law. Certainly nothing I say, or others who might later respond, unless they are licensed legal attorneys, should be taken as legal advise, accurate or otherwise, and any information gathered here that you base your decisions on will be YOURS alone, without liability to myself. That being said…
Few individuals totally give up their rights to privacy, the use of what they say, where they are or whathaveyou just because they are “celebrities” “elected officials” or are in a public venue, function, etc. These rights are specific and only an attorney would be able to guide a video or film producer through the potential legal entanglements – AND there are plenty. Even producers, writers and others who HAVE taken all the right steps still run into litigation, be it successful or not – still potentially expensive to defend.
If you take your chances, and you certainly can do that – it’s a free???? country, right? – (but “chances” are that if what you say, write, produce, distribute or otherwise make public for fun or profit, with few real exceptions), and depending on the success of your efforts someone somewhere will take an interest in you for purposes of litigation.
If you shoot and produce something for yourself, something that nobody is likely to ever see (what’s the point in that, right?) then you are reasonably safe 🙂
Otherwise, you need to obtain some serious legal advice, or simply armed with general concepts/precepts of guerrilla and/or ENG approach to “public good” and other related gray areas of such productions (think, Saturday Night Live episodes and those unauthorized biographies) you can certainly go for it.
I am of the opinion that you will not receive much useful (legally correct, or knowledgeably accurate) information (opinions) here. I would, if I had a subject that intrigued or challenged me, and were so interested in I simply COULD NOT sit on it and do nothing, jump on it and “damn the torpedoes.”
Regarding YOUR project, and concerns, that is a decision left entirely up to you. Nobody here can, or should, give you a clear path to how you approach your production efforts, or what to do with the results.
I STRONGLY suggest that you do, at the minimum, get signed releases from ANY recognizable and identifiable person (by face, voice or dress), watch out for logos and trademarks (those areas that even some news channels blur out on screen), and get signed permission from persons owning the private property, if any, where you shoot footage that will wind up being viewed. That’s a start…
Again, there are exceptions, but you will need to obtain good, solid and “defendable” legal advice before making any conclusions that will help you in the long run.
Surely a search on Google should come up with something more, say searching under “producing documentary films” or somesuch.
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