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The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

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Laura Scott
Sat 21 May 2005Link
Yes, that is the trick. I have just begun to pitch it to "supplier"
producers who have worked with a number of broadcasters. It seems they
are pretty open to being pitched on projects that they think might
appeal to the broadcasters that they have relationships with. So far
two of the three I've pitched were interested enough to request
synopsis, tapes, budgets, etc. so we'll see.
For me the biggest challenge is finding someone who understands and
appreciates where you are going, creatively, with the project and is
on the same page with the marketing plan as well. Finding your
soulmate in the classifieds is easier by far ;-)

Doug Block
Sat 21 May 2005Link
that's why networking at festivals, markets and other industry events
is crucial. everyone looks to make contact with the various
commissioning editors but meeting other producers is just as
important, maybe moreso for international co-productions.

James River Martin
Sun 19 Jun 2005Link
{LINK NOT IMPORTED}: Steve Holmes {LINK NOT IMPORTED}:

"We better take this over to "The Mentoring Room." "

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

I'm now 99% decided to break my initial project into two. The Big Idea
I had in mind was, to be done right, a pretty high budget operation.

I'm thinking of doing a very low to low budget thing, mosly on my own.
It would focus on "the resistance", mostly protests and demonstrations
... and some narration and/or interview material slipped in. The
footage would, theoretically, mostly come from others who were at the
events and happened to be equipped with a video camera. I'd play
writer-director-editor-producer. I'd write a grant proposal and have
it funded as a project of a non-profit org. I have connections there.
Then I'd have a start. A start which will help me to take on the
bigger project. Also, I'd have gotten access to important footage for
the Bit Idea project.

What do you think?

Steve Holmes
Sun 19 Jun 2005Link
Who's your audience? Has anything like this been done before? If so,
how will your project be different? Do you plan to include new
interview footage? I expect you'd want that to provide a frame for
the story.

James River Martin
Mon 20 Jun 2005Link
Who's your audience?

Well, the smaller initial project would have a lot of "the choir" as
an audience. That is, those who are hip with and grooving on the anti-
car culture movement worldwide (mostly English-speaking nations). The
audience would also be their friends and family, and people standing
on the edge looking in from out there: Curious folks.

"Has anything like this been done before?"

Not exactly, to my knowledge. Though other films are sort of similar.

>>> Back in a bit.

James River Martin
Mon 20 Jun 2005Link
"If so, how will your project be different?"

The docs I am aware of, and which are similar are either differently
or more narrowly focussed. There are one or two docs on Critical
Mass, there are docs which are critical of automobile saturarated
suburbia, and so on. I'd tell a similar story from a much different
angle and approach, the story of "the resistance" in the form of many
and diverse demonstrations and protests world-wide. To my knowledge,
it hasn't been done.


more in a moment.

James River Martin
Mon 20 Jun 2005Link
"Do you plan to include new interview footage?"

Probably. Almost certainly. But perhaps not.

"I expect you'd want that to provide a frame for the story."

I think you are most likely right about that. Nevertheless, I *might*
do something closer to a "Baraka" (Fricke) or "Koyaanisqatsi"
(Reggio) --- Not exactly, but closer(?).

One possible alternative way to handle it is to publish a booklet of
the same dimensions as the DVD, and that booklet could tell the story
in words while allowing the imagery and sound to stand independent.

I'm leaving a door like this open until I've lived intimately with
the footage and played with some editing and what not. I am both a
scholar and an artist, and if the artist takes the lead ... well, he
might want to go elsewhere than the direction the scholar might
prefer.

In any case, it is perhaps too soon to lock in a plan ... If I'm
going to be editing and all. I can work intimately with the material
and follow it where it wants to go, this way. The Big Idea requires a
pretty focussed script which is also flexible. But I think I'll do
something small before I try to do a half million dollar blockbuster.

Steve Holmes
Mon 20 Jun 2005Link
I dunno, James. If I see a bunch of people jumping up and down being
passionate about something, I want to know more about *them.* Their
issue becomes secondary. What drives, er, buses people to get worked
up enough to be part of the "resistance"? Why not sit home and watch
videos, or better yet, take a drive in the country? Programs with no
narration or interviews work only when the subjects can't talk. When
they can, I want them to do so.

As to your Big Idea, half a million is a lot to spend on any doc.
Unless it's one of the well-publicized exceptions, you'll never come
close to making back a tenth of that. With DV and editing on home
computers, shows can be done for far less.

James River Martin
Mon 20 Jun 2005Link
Your paragraph 1.

Well said, and good point.


Your paragraph 2.

I'm very much inspired by two wonderful docs called (a) Manufacturing
Consent, and (b) The Corporation. I've watched both many times,
making a study of them. And I've watched the Additional Features, or
whatever they are called, on the DVDs--The parts not shown in the
theatre. These were huge projects, with lots of people working on 'em
over a long span of time. I never did learn how much they cost to
produce, but I did learn that they were partly funded by grants from
the Canadian government! Those Canadians!

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that "The Corporation" had a half
mil or more budget, especially including promotion.

Of course, I can remain inspired by these films and shoot a little
lower. ;)


James River Martin
Mon 20 Jun 2005Link
What drew you into the world of documentary filmmaking, Steve?

Steve Holmes
Tue 21 Jun 2005Link
I lost a bet.

No, I went to journalism school at Missouri with emphasis on
broadcast journalism, worked in public television for a local
station in Kansas City and started my own company, which is always
on life support.

James River Martin
Fri 24 Jun 2005Link
I tell ya, there are some zippy images in my story!

"http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0617_050617_nakedbike
rs.html
"

Kathryn Burg
Fri 1 Jul 2005Link
Does anyone have information on what sort of guidelines one should
follow when drawing up consent forms? I'm going to be shooting a
choir that's going on tour to England and Italy this summer. I
want to shoot mostly outside and inside the churches where they'll
be singing, although I will also be shooting the choir as they
take hikes and tour around the cities as a group. I know where
they'll be singing and where they'll be staying, but the tourist
spots will be on the fly. My crew consists of me (the recording
crew has requested separate informal permission from the
churches).

I was planning to send forms to the known locations in advance and
bring extras for the tourist spots. I've been told by the
directors of the tour that the churches might shy away from
signing official consent forms prior to filming (they may even bar
me from shooting at all), but they may be more open to it after
seeing the final cut. I'm planning to enter the final product into
film festivals, so I don't want to prevent myself from doing that,
but I don't want to scare anyone off, either. Any thoughts? Any
advice you could give or resources you could point me to would be
much appreciated. I leave in just under a month.

Steve Holmes
Sat 2 Jul 2005Link
Welcome, Kathryn! Not sure about sending the forms. It gives the
more paranoid recipients time to worry and stew. Forms can look
intimidating when people don't know what's going to happen during
the taping. Gut feeling is I'd send them in advance only if someone
requests them.

Why might the churches bar you from taping? Image concerns?
Preserving the sanctity of the concert? I saw a doc of a choral
concert tour which includes the concerts. Your best selling point is
you and your sensitivity to their concerns and the promise of a
credit and festival exposure.

As to the on-the-fly tourist spots, can you find out a few minutes
in advance where the group will be going, then go in and ask
permission first? Be sure to promise a "Thanks to" credit.

Will you have a release form in Italian?

Kathryn Burg
Tue 5 Jul 2005Link
Thanks for your thoughts, Steve! I get your gut feeling to not
send them in advance. Do you then think it's more appropriate to
ask them to sign the forms once I'm there in place or after I have
a cut to show?

Apparently, the churches sometimes take issue with the presence of
"equipment" during a solemn service. They have a legacy of
tradition backing them up (one is the staunchly traditional chapel
at Windsor Castle). I'll suggest tucking me and my camera out of
the way, but not too out of the way, if that's necessary. The
rehearsals are often a bit more interesting anyway, so as long as
I can convince them to let me shoot during those times, and at
services for at least some locations, I will live with it. And is
it true that I can use footage from a location without permission
as long as it's not recognizable?

For most of the tourist spots, I will know a bit in advance, so
I'll be sure to speed myself ahead of the group with form in hand
-- and polished sweet talking skills.

Luckily I speak Italian, so I'll be able to create a form for
those spots. I have a few English examples to work with, but if
you have any suggestions, or any links that might be good
reference, please pass them on. Thanks, again!

Steve Holmes
Tue 5 Jul 2005Link
Kathryn:

I would have them sign the releases at the taping site. If you wait
until you show them a rough cut of the show, some of them might balk
because of how they feel they're being portrayed. It might not have
anything to do with the content or tone, but perhaps as trivial a
concern as someone's Bad Hair Day.

<<And is it true that I can use footage from a location without
permission as long as it's not recognizable?>>

Under American law, you don't need a personal release if a person is
not recognizable. I have no clue about how Britain and Italy view
such things. It's a good idea to have a location release.

Maureen Futtner
Tue 5 Jul 2005Link
Hi, Documentary Mentors:

As always, I am grateful you folks are out here.

I am nearly done with production on my project, and even nearly done
logging, and am embarking on making a sample tape, then it's onto my
first assembly.

I am wondering at what point do I begin inquiring about licensing
rights for photos, music, footage I MIGHT want to use? Does one
simply wait until fine cut, or is it best to start putting feelers
out there now?

I don't plan to use a TON of non-original material, but there are a
few things out there that I definitely would love - including an R&B
song from the 60s, pages from an article which appeared in GQ
magazine, a clip or two from a FoxNews Talk show ... any wisdom as to
where, how and when I might begin inquiring about using this stuff?
I realize I could be way outta my league financially, but I'd like to
know just how far out I am. More specifically -
1. Do I go straight to the artist regarding the pop song? (if I can
find her)
2. Do I go straight to GQ and FoxNews? if so, which dept. do I
contact?
Thanks, in advance, for your help.
Maureen

Steve Holmes
Wed 6 Jul 2005Link
Maureen:

When you start asking about licencing rights depends on how much
material you have and how vital it is. The more important it is, the
earlier I'd ask. For the more marginal stuff, I'd wait until I had a
good idea that I'd be using it. No use spending a lot of time
inquiring about material that won't make the final cut.

Some of the material might be covered under "fair use," but it can
be a grey area. Not sure whom to contact at GQ or Fox. You might
check their websites. I suppose I'd go to the artist about the pop
song, but I'd look into fair use, too.

Christina Frederick
Thu 7 Jul 2005Link
Hi! I'm going to be travelling with a group of about 15 students from
a Caribbean island to NYC. We're shooting video of them (and they'll
be shooting video of each other) for a community-based documentary.
They are talented teen performers who have raised the money to travel
to NY to perform a show on Broadway that they have written and created
with Broadway professionals who are volunteering their time to the
project. We've been shooting their rehearsals and local performances
for months, and the kids will be filming each other's home lives and
families. Eventually we'll assist the kids in editing their own
full-length documentary of the experience and plan to market it to CPB
etc.

My question is about permits. The kids and I will be running around
the city for one week next month, doing touristy things, meeting
showbiz professionals, rehearsing and then performing. I'll be taping
on a Canon GL1 or a palmcorder, and the kids will also be taping each
other using small palmcorder units. I might have a light tripod with
me but that's the extent of the equipment we have. Do we need to apply
for insurance and NYC filming permits? I know we'll need releases from
recognizable people and interviewees, but -- will we need special
permission to film at city landmarks and in the theater where they're
performing?

Thanks so much. I did search the forum and the web but didn't find out
much about this topic as it relates to doc filming. Maybe no news is
good news?

Doug Block
Fri 8 Jul 2005Link
my feeling is... for the city streets, just go ahead and shoot. if
you're stopped, just say you're a film teacher and this is a class
exercise. worst that will happen is they tell you to move on.

landmarks and the theater are a different matter. if you want your
film broadcast, you'll need a release.

Christina Frederick
Fri 8 Jul 2005Link
Doug,

Thanks. The research I've done indicates that any recognizable
storefront or business would need a release. As for being a film
teacher, I guess I could stop in Chinatown and get a fake ID! ;-)

I'll check with the mayor's office about landmarks. Maybe they'll have
some leads on who to contact for things like the Empire State Building
, Rockefeller or Lincoln Center... or department stores etc...

Another related question - I wonder in general if it is advisable - or
more disarming - to have the teens ask business owners for releases,
or if it's a better idea to have an adult (me) make the request. And
when asking a business owner, is it a good idea to describe where the
film will be shown? In general, are people more apt to sign releases
when they get the impression the film is going to be shown once at 3am
on cable access in a foreign country, or when they think they might
appear in the next Farenheit 911?

Doug, enjoyed your weddings website by the way. I liked those clips of
the photo session in central park, where you're following the couple
from a distance but hear family members chatting in the foreground.
Did you mix that audio in or was that ambient sound from the shot?
Really nice, really feels like being there, adds a lot of depth and
character to the scene. Inspiring, as I have raw footage of my own
wedding that I'll someday look at and edit...

Mandeep Sandhu
Fri 8 Jul 2005Link
Hi,
I am an aspiring documentary maker. I have the idea and a rough plan
about the structure of the documentary itself. This documentary will
involve interviewing subjects as well as footage of locations
relevant to the subject. I have a sony trv33 digital camcorder.
1. Should I go start shooting footage and interviewing people with it
or do I need a professional quality digital video camera.

2 For sound I have a wireless mike that I can attach to camcorder
and a lapel mike clipped on the subject. I think the make is
lavalier. Will this suffice.

3. DO I need to register a non profit company for this project.
I plan to use footage to apply for funding later on. Also are there
any advantages froma tax point of view.

4. I could use some help with this. Ideally I would like a film
student, or someone in similar capacity, to work with me on this
project. Where can I scout for people like that.

I did try to read previous posts for answers to my questions but
could not find any. If answers to these questions have been posted
elsewhere please post a link and my apologies to repeat the question.

Mandeep

Doug Block
Sat 9 Jul 2005Link
Christina, I think it depends on the owner, you try to feel it out
when you talk to them, but I generally low key it. Try to make it
seem like it's no big deal, and the release is just for in case it
happens to ever get on tv. And I'd ask myself, not have the teens do
it.

Thanks for your compliments about my wedding clips (for those who
don't know, I shoot about a dozen weddings a year to support my doc
work). The audio in my wedding shoots is all done via a Sennheiser ME
63 mike mounted on top of my camera. I actually edit in the camera as
I shoot, and do it all as a one-man crew. For examples:
<www.dougblockweddings.com/video_clips.htm

Mandeep, in brief:

1. Don't know that camera well but you might want to start on it and
use your initial interviews to make a work sample to help you raise
money (to afford a better camera). In general, if it's not considered
broadcast quality, I'd wait, unless circumstances require you to shoot
an interview sooner than later.

2. lavaliers are ok for interviews but not for the audio for verite
footage. Look into a better directional mike.

3. No.

4. Put up an ad on Craig's List or Shooting People or some other list
serve.

Good luck!

Christina Frederick
Sun 10 Jul 2005Link
Thanks Doug.

That's impressive that you edit your wedding shoots on the spot. (22
years of experience can't hurt!) Maybe the structured nature of a
wedding day helps, but I find that with most things I've worked on, I
really have to shoot and shoot and shoot to get the few moments that I
need and then really have to review everything at least once or twice
to make edit decisions. I should probably try to shoot a few short
stories in cam like that, what a great way to train yourself to see
the key points plus scene details of the story happening. Do you have
some kind of mental checklist of elements to capture, or discuss it
with your client beforehand? I imagine it's your talent plus
experience that gives you the confidence to make decisions so quickly,
and feel confident that you're capturing the moment even when you're
getting a "b-roll" shot away from the key players...

Also, how do you avoid having people react to the camera on a scene? I
often get people "jokingly" putting their palm up to the lens, or
mugging, or making an "oops" face and running to get out of the way...
do you ask people to ignore the camera?

I'm going to be helping my mother move out of her house where she's
lived for 35 years - was thinking of making that a personal project
this summer, to get her to look at her personal artifacts before she
packs them up, and describe their meaning to her, her history, her
life. Maybe that will be a good opportunity to try this in-cam editing
out!

How exactly do you edit in the camera? Do you take a few moments to
review tape after you shoot a sequence, and cue up to your next cut?
Or do you just edit your trigger finger, collecting all video
snapshots of the action as you go? What kind of cam do you shoot these
with?

I'm really awestruck that you can edit such a long piece on the fly.
Humbly prostrating at your feet! ;-) Thanks for sharing your time and
knowledge with us less experienced folks. This forum is really a godsend.

Doug Block
Mon 11 Jul 2005Link
hey christina, just got back from yet another wedding, so i'm kind of
tired, but if i don't answer now, probably won't get to it once
editing resumes tomorrow on my film (about my father moving from the
house i grew up in after my mother's death a few years ago, so a bit
similar to your idea, but i'm a little further along).

it's hard to advise people how to edit in camera. mainly, you have
to listen real hard, have a sense of editing, and a LOT of camera
experience. but it's also a lot of fun. don't think i could shoot
weddings as a side gig if it weren't for the challenge involved.

i do use my trigger finger as the chopping block. the on/off button
makes the edits as i go. i move around a lot, change angles a lot, do
a lot of combination pans and zooms. it's very zen-like, very
instinctive.

as to how to get people not to wave to the camera, i don't use a
light on my camera if i can possibly avoid it. my camera is a canon
gl-1, so it looks like a camcorder and lots of people bring camcorders
to weddings, so people usually think i'm just a guest. i try to act
really low key, never try to call attention to myself. and if they do
start to notice the camera and wave, i turn and walk away.

hope that helps. practice helps, too ;-)

John Philp
Thu 14 Jul 2005Link
Hi All,
Quick question. I'm making a yoga doc. One of my main characters is a
controversial yogi. I've shot stuff of him hosting a yoga
'championship', giving a lecture, and doing a five-minute interview
with us, all at public events where we were a credited film crew.

Problem; He has not signed a release. And while trying to get a sit-
down interview with him, his people suddenly said he's 'under
contract' to another doc and can't be in mine. Where does this leave
the earlier footage I shot, in your estimation?

John Philp

Doug Block
Fri 15 Jul 2005Link
probably leaves it sitting on your shelf, john. certainly don't know
any broadcasters that would air it without the signed release.

Garry Carter
Wed 3 Aug 2005Link
Anyone know how to get the technical requirements for the Discovery
Channel(s)? There is a login area at
http://producers.discovery.com/pmd/PMDHandbook.nsf/ but this is
for "contract" producers only. The information I seek is benign but
doesn’t appear to be published anywhere. Thanks.

Robert Goodman
Thu 4 Aug 2005Link
you could call them and ask for a copy. Though I would suggest you
really only need the details when you have a deal and a show to deliver.

Randolfe Wicker
Sat 6 Aug 2005Link
I have a question about filming on the street. I've seen
announcements by an MTV crew at a Staten Island Gay Pride Fair in a
public park notifying people that they might be filmed.

I put up such notices while filming at a similar event in Brooklyn.

Somehow, (probably because of my small camera) I managed to shoot some
film (getting verbal and signed releases) at an S&M street fair in
Manhattan.

However, the most fascinating thing I captured was a "public" humorous
"live" mummification. One fellow wrapped a 25-year-old "twinkie" in
saran wrap and shaving cream, then invited onlookers to hug him, cane
him, whatever--for which they would have to make a donation to a group
defending sexual freedom.

Various men and women caned him, hugged him, whipped him--and one even
spit a stream of water into his open mouth. Some of the males were
dressed in leather.

I learned later that MTV and some other video units had "pleaded" to
be allowed to come and film but were refused. The street fair was
technically "public". However, they had an entrance where a
"suggested donation of $5" was collected.

What risk would I take in editing this footage into a freely
distributed vlog?

Doug Block
Sun 7 Aug 2005Link
I'm no lawyer and you should really run that by an entertainment
lawyer specializing in new media. My guess is it's fine, especially
if you're not getting a lot of hits on your vlog. But the more
popular it gets, the more it could become a potential issue.

Randolfe Wicker
Sun 7 Aug 2005Link
Then becoming involved in this new venue of vlogging just might put
you on the "ground floor" mapping out the new legal and social issues
involved.

I can only wonder what those who "work" at making documentaries and
struggle to ear a living doing it think of people who essentially give
their work away through vlogging?

Actually, I see vlogging as a truly democratic playing field when it
comes to video competition. You don't need a lot of financing or
intermediaries to vet your work.

You don't have to package your work to fit certain standard formats.
All you have to do is produce something that attracts an audience
and/or provokes controversy.

For that matter, once you have succeeded in attracting a following and
establishing a name, you should be able to grow from there into
commercial venues if you so wish.

Doug,thanks for the comment. The key words were "entertainment lawyer
specializing in new media".

Doug Block
Sun 7 Aug 2005Link
i think vlogging is pretty exciting, actually. if i had the time and
energy, i definitely do it - don't see the downside at all. but i
think for one to be successful you not only need talent as a filmmaker
but a really keen marketing sense. or agressive linkmaking, at least.

good luck, randolfe.

Jasmine Adams
Mon 8 Aug 2005Link
Legal Issues.

I'm considering a documentary on teenagers who are acting out and
engaging in behaviour that is generally deemed socially unacceptable.
Where so I stand on this leagally? As they children are minors I
assume that the parents will have to sign the release forms...however
I am caught on how, exactly, to represent myself to their parents.
The whole point of the doco is the actions and behaviour of these
children that the parents don't know about.

I know doco makers have been caught on this in the past, so hopefully
someone here may be able to give me a heads up on exactly how to
approach this.

Erica Ginsberg
Mon 8 Aug 2005Link
Would recommend you take Doug's advice given to the vlogging question
above and consult an entertainment lawyer. You might also contact
the filmmakers of several films which have dealt with "minors
behaving badly" to see how they dealt with this slippery slope.

Doug Block
Mon 8 Aug 2005Link
ditto what erica said. you do NOT want to proceed too far without
good legal advice. be very careful with minors (and their possibly
outraged parents)!

Randolfe Wicker
Mon 8 Aug 2005Link
Doug, you suggest "aggressive linking". Are there some good resources
for learning about that.

I have heard that one should link to "anything" or "anyone" who links
back to you. In the past, I was very judicious about whom I linked
to. I felt a link on my site was almost an endorsement.

Is there a particular book or series of articles which lays all of
this out? I have two websites but am unable to do anything with them
since the fellow who used to work with me on the computer left.

Doug Block
Mon 8 Aug 2005Link
just google on "vlogging"...

Randolfe Wicker
Tue 9 Aug 2005Link
I've done that some time ago. I've found helpful tutorials at
freeblog. There seem to be groups of vlogger who link to each other
to build traffic.

I was wondering if there are any specific resources as to "linking
stragedy"--whether selective links are better than unselective ones, etc.

There was a "counter" on a very excellent vlog, "vlog of a faux
journalist", and I was surprised at how little traffic her site received.

You can get a sampling of hilarious comedy with "the message" at
http://www.jonnygoldstein.com/2005/08/06/yanni_goldthtein_holithtic_healer_holithtic_videoblogging.php

Steve Holmes
Tue 9 Aug 2005Link
Randolfe:

Are the people in the footage identifiable? Some folks might not
want the world to know they went to an S&M fair. I'd be very leery
of using footage that features identifiable people unless releases
were signed or faces are obscured just enough to cover you legally.

As to running this by an entertainment lawyer, do a Google search
for "Lawyers for the Creative Arts" to see if it has someone working
in your area.

Randolfe Wicker
Tue 9 Aug 2005Link
I was aware of this while filming. I shot footage of a long line of
people (from the neck down) waiting in line to be admitted to a
"drinking area". They had to show I.D. to get in.

However, in the public mummification tape, many people were
identifiable. It is impossible to get releases from people when
shooting a street scene.

If someone is filmed dressed in shorts and a leather vest, smacking
his hand with a small whip and then paying (tipping) to swat the
volunteer mummifee on a public street in front of hundreds of people,
what could he claim?

The crowd was very mixed so far as orientation went--straight and
gay--but nearly all were into S&M. If you are into that scene, attend
a public event and are filmed walking around, what could your
objections be?

I'll certainly keep these concerns in mind during editing. I'm not
sure how difficult or expensive "blurring" faces would be.

Steve Holmes
Tue 9 Aug 2005Link
Some people lead dual lives. They might be comfortable at the fair
among people who believe as they do -- and nobody's going to condemn
them -- but might be horrified at the notion that their visit to the
fair, complete with vests and whips, was now on the World Wide Web,
where it could be seen by parents, bosses, co-workers or even wives
who have no idea what their husbands are into.

Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn't you be leery about your
participation being uploaded for all to see?

Randolfe Wicker
Tue 9 Aug 2005Link
Well, I understand your point. However, as the first homosexual to go
on television and radio (1964 and 1962 respectively) and as the first
gay journalist to cover the emergence of an S&M community (1971), I
think you have to balance such concerns against the many people there
who willingly allowed themselves to be interviewed and videotaped.

I find it hard to square a mentality that is afraid of exposure with
someone who dressed "obviously" in a leather-daddy mode and publicly
induldged his desires in broad daylight, on a public street, before
dozens (possibly as many as a few hundred) onlookers.

Indeed, many of those participating seemed to enjoy being part of the
show. This public mummification was a humorous parody of the real
thing which would have been done privately, involved more restriction
and no shaving cream. The Saran Wrap and shaving cream buffered the
blows and made them painless. The whole thing was really a public
celebration of S&M sex.

I'd argue one shouldn't "dance in the streets" if one doesn't want to
be seen (and video-taped). I was obviously filming for a full 57
minutes. Everyone could see me. True, they might have thought I was
making home movies. That's all vlogs are--home movies uploaded to the
Internet.

Doug Block
Tue 9 Aug 2005Link
my guess is vlogs are pretty new ground concerning privacy issues.
you could always push the limits and possibly become a test case. test
cases get lots of publicity ;-)

Melissa Dopp
Wed 10 Aug 2005Link
Randolfe, I thought BDSM scenes involved "safe, sane, and consensual"
negotiations (public or private). By not seeking permission from your
subjects, are you not transgressing a basic tenet of BDSM? There is a
site for queer podcasting that will probably branch out to include
queer vlogging; I think it's called qPodder. Maybe you can push them
toward the inclusion of vlogging? I guess I'm curious about your
target audience - would folks within the BDSM scene really be
interested in your footage for archival purposes or are you hoping to
exploit sexual identities for a larger, more generalized cyber
audience?

Randolfe Wicker
Wed 10 Aug 2005Link
Well, I am not personally involved in BDSM so I don't feel I've
entered into any public or private "safe, sane and consensual"
contracts of an especially restrictive nature.

I donated to the cause of sexual freedom, showed my appreciation to
the performers by kissing the mummifee's hand and sending the two
performers copies of their performance.

I've asked them to sign releases, even offered to share any commercial
gains. However, I'm not sure either is necessary. I guess I'd have
to check case law about street performers or consult an entertainment
lawyer.

Lawyers cost a lot of money. If I'm simply sharing videotapes I've
made (for free) with others via vlogging, why is that so different
from showing it to a large party filled with friends? In both cases,
people have come to your apartment (or vlog)to see your videos.

There is a blog at http://www.tonyhayden.com where this fellow posts
weekly coverage of his most personal life. Last week, he included
footage of professional shows at a private gay resort in Orlando.

Thanks for the suggestions regarding qPodder. There is a "make your
own vlogroll" at http://videoblogging-universe.com/ which includes
about sixty vloggers including at least one transexual.

My target audience is AMAP--that is, As Many As Possible! I want to
explore the world with the whole world watching. A small ambition?

Melissa Dopp
Wed 10 Aug 2005Link
Well, the erosion of the supposed public/private split that folks
used to hang ethical considerations upon is interesting. One could
argue that your apartment space represents a "private space" while the
Internet vlogging space represents a "public space" so, there is a
difference. One could also argue that re-representing a sexual
community, in your case (as an outsider), will do absolutely nothing
to promote "sexual freedom" (if indeed such an ideal can be defined,
let alone achieved from a hetero-legal p.o.v.). Why not push the
envelope and see what legal walls you bump up against using newer
technologies to promote "sexual freedom"?

Steve Holmes
Wed 10 Aug 2005Link
Randolfe:

It's possible that the people who attended see the "contract" in a
different way. Heard the phrase, "What happens in Vegas stays in
Vegas"? My guess is that it's the same way here. Sure, people saw
you taping, but probably assumed you were doing it for your own
amusement rather than to share wtih as many as possible all over the
world.

I have a friend who is a swinger and goes to swinger parties.
Everyone there is comfortable because everyone there participates in
the hobby. Nobody's judging anyone else. Yet these same folks would
be horrified to see themselves in a video of the party that popped
up on a swingers' website.

In each case, we're talking about a subculture that is frequently
ridiculed and condemned. Those who are part of it are happy to let
it all hang out among their friends in the lifestyle, but don't want
to be "outed" on the Internet. This kind of thing ruins careers and
lives. I don't know how to obscure faces. Some more techie types may
have an answer. But it seems that would get your point across
without outing people who weren't expecting it. Otherwise, it would
be wrong to use the unaltered footage.

What everyone is saying is tread very carefully -- both to keep
yourself out of potential legal trouble and to protect the rights of
those who were videotaped.

Randolfe Wicker
Wed 10 Aug 2005Link
I think the authentic spirit of the event, the genuine laughter and
the way people were "playing" in a public fethistic way is the best
defense and explanation for their lifestyle.

The thing that has made vlogging so attractive to me is how it
demolishes all the B.S. about "releases", "permissions", "licenses",
"backers", "distributors", etc. etc. etc.

I gave up professional writing years ago and cancelled a book contract
I'd been given by Random House. I didn't write for four years. When
I took pen-in-hand on a dare by Al Goldstein and wrote an article for
Screw, my article got Screw busted. It was the apex of my writing career.

Now, vlogging opens the gate of visual freedom to all those who dare
to pass through it. Vloggers are like libertarians who have finally
found a really "free" environment.

An artist or entertainer or expose artist only needs to produce
material that attracts a following on the level world-wide playing
field of the Internet.

You might note that the http://www.tonyhayden.com site has an "adult
material" disclaimer on it. Little precautions like that should be
all the parameters we need.

No red lights! No stop signs! Lights, camera, action--full speed ahead!

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