It is extremely important that you have correct clearances and permissions in your film. If you don't, then you might not have the right to show it in public, much less, sell it to a broadcaster. Just as it would be unwise to your your favourite White Stripes song and hope you could clear it later when they see how brilliant your film is, so too it would be silly to not get the people in your doc to sign a release when you make the film. Save yourself much hassle later and start organising it from the start.
Appearance Release Form
You need a Release From for anyone who either gives you an interview or who speaks on camera. You do not need a Release Form for people on the street as long as your camera isn't concealed.
You will need Release Forms for people who are identifiable in sensitive places even if they are not speaking, for example, hospital waiting rooms, gay clubs, law court corridors.
You should warn your interviewee that you will need a Release Form signed after the interview and get it signed straight away. Try not to leave it until the next week by which time they may have changed their mind.
Anyone under the age of 16 needs to have their Release Form signed by one or both of their parents.
It is crucial that the Release Form is not signed under any misapprehension or false pretenses. Whilst you do not need to share all your plans or thoughts for the film with the contributors, what you say must not be misleading and it is helpful if this is also in writing so that you have prood that you were clear about the nature of the film.
You need permissions to shoot anywhere that isn’t either a) the street or b) a property you own yourself. If you want to shoot on the tube, in a hospital, in a club or bar etc remember to leave enough time for your filming request to be processed. These sorts of locations will ask that you put up signs to say that you are filming and that you get release forms for people who appear in shot. You should keep a signed letter of agreement from any location you film in.
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It isn't only people and places- music, texts, websites, shots of advertising billboards, film clips, news footage, news paper-clippings and even your mates photographs can't be used in films without permission. That doesn't mean you'll always have to pay for rights but it does mean checking who owns them, and getting a formal permission from them.