Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Specialty Topics › Legal Issues › Releases after the fact? › Hi amberemckenzie,
I'm no lawyer, but I have always felt that recorded verbal releases are usually adequate enough to keep out of legal trouble for both talent and location releases. That's of course depending on what you had them agree to. It's always best to ask the person for the right to use their image, likeness, name, audio, voice, appearance, and performance as well as the right for you to distribute, edit, sell, and mix the footage in a way of your choosing. If you haven't said something close to that, you may want to go back and get signed releases with that wording in place. That being said, written releases are always far better since they often state the legal ramifications of signing the document more precisely and can give the talent time to understand what they're agreeing to before giving consent.
As for the locations you passed by, I have always felt (and again, I'm no lawyer) that as long as you aren't saying something defaming about the location or using the location's notoriety to gain higher profits for your film that a passing shot shouldn't be an issue. In addition, if you don't have deep pockets, most locations or people will sue you for infringement. However, you're the only one that can really determine how likely it is that the location will sue you for either of those purposes. Again, the best course of action is to send a letter with a release explaining the situation and asking them to sign a written release. If that's going to be incredibly time consuming to the point where it's nearly impossible, then you can decide whether or not their likely to sue you and possibly go ahead with distribution.
All together speaking, it seems like you've done a lot of the legwork already by asking the managers of the locations to give releases verbally on camera at most of your locations. It sounds like it wouldn't take a serious amount of effort to send releases to the other locations you may have missed and see what results before distributing the film. Of course, it can never hurt to consult a lawyer even for just a few hours before distributing your film as well. A lawyer can look at each potential issue on a case-by-case basis which will really help you in the long run.
For some additional information, I found these articles on Videomaker's website. They've been doing articles about the legality of filming for years so they seemed like they could help; http://www.videomaker.com/article/15398-why-do-you-need-release-forms
Hopefully that helps!