the worldwide community of documentary professionals
You are not signed in.
Log in or Register

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.

Resultset_first 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Resultset_next Resultset_last
Tina Difeliciantonio
Tue 19 Feb 2002Link
Hi,

I'm hoping someone out there could help me find an old version
for Mac of Photoshop 4.0.

Does anyone know where I could acquire this version of the
program?

Thanks!

Doug Block
Wed 20 Feb 2002Link
No need to double post, Tina. Especially when both are in the wrong
topics :-) I've emailed you with instructions.

Rob Green
Thu 21 Feb 2002Link
Hi, Nina.
Reading the construction site discussion, I thought the same
thing, but isn't there some legal allowance for filming public
events? Where, as the lawyers say, people "have no reasonable
expectation of privacy?"
In an operational sense, I agree that it's always best to have a
signed release, but I have the impression that in certain cases it
isn't strictly necessary.
Am I wrong?

Nina Gilden Seavey
Sun 24 Feb 2002Link
Robert - As you say, there are public figures for whom you do not need
release -- individuals who, by virtue of their public standing are, in
fact, a sort of public property. Government figures would fall into
this category, sports stars may or may not, recalcitrant famous but
reclusive authors probably not, and the list goes on. It is a tough
line to draw - and a harder one to defend in court.

In addition, say you are filming a public person in an event and there
are other "non public" people walking around in front of your camera
and you capture them on film - you can't use them without a release -
even if the focal point of the shot is on this "public person."

But I have a good, and legal, solution to this provided to me by my
very excellent entertainment attorney, which I have been using for
years.

When we are filming in a public arena - an event, a stadium, a crowded
room, a construction site, etc - at the entrance - on a large poster
board - we put up a notice that entering into this space implies
release by all who choose to enter. You shoot that sign with people
reading it (as evidence that it was placed in a location where people
can see it) and you are in the clear.

Sometimes I also put flyers in plain site that people can pick up and
read that lets them know what the film is about and who we are. This
helps to keep questions to a minimum so I and my crew can focus on our
work.

Similarly, I have recently shot in concert locations and have had an
announcement come over the public address system reminding attendants
that we are shooting and we film this announcement as evidence of
informed consent as well. You must be able to show due diligence in
letting people know that the material you are shooting can be
considered for public consumption and that, as individuals, they may
be put on the screen.

But you must attend to these legal details or you can have both
problems with distribution and worse, you may end up invading the
legitimate privacy of individuals who do not wa

Robert Goodman
Sun 24 Feb 2002Link
I think there's a bit more room than Nina indicated. People attending
public events have minimal right to sue if they are not the focus of
the film. Merely showing someone in the crowd at an event doesn't
require a release. Everyday, the news media photographs people at
events without prior notice or releases. You do need a release if you
isolate someone in the crowd or in the case of construction example
which is not a public event (demonstrations, sporting events,
political rallies, performances in Central Park). There is also the
rule about identifiability. The person in the crowd must be clearly
recognizable and on screen for long enough for someone to recognize
them. The other issue that comes into play is what you say about the
images or the purpose to which the images are used. No one sues
because you shot them unless they happen to be there with someone
else's spouse or use the material to illustrate something contrary to
why they were there in the first place.

So, photograph someone at a political rally for nuclear disarmanment
and use the footage as crowd support for the KKK and you will have
problems. Of course, you will have the same problem whether you have a
signed release from the person or not.

Rob Green
Tue 26 Feb 2002Link
Nina - I've done the poster thing, too. The flyers are a good tip.
I'll keep it in mind. I think the situations the *other* Robert G.
mentioned are more like what I was thinking of. Where people
are truly in *public*.

In a pinch--with interview subjects who weren't able to read a
release, for example--I've also explained what we're doing and
gotten their agreement on camera.

I'm actually not sure if that would be legal or not. Just wanted to
show due diligence.

Thor Henrikson
Wed 27 Feb 2002Link
Just to chip in on the release discussion, I recently shot at a
large tournament in Stockholm and was lucky enough to be able
to get the organizers to mention in their welcome speech that a
film crew was there and if anyone objected to being filmed they
should talk to us us directly, we filmed this verbal (bilingual)
notice and no-one came to talk to us. Hopefully having that tape
will be enough. I realize that a troublemaker could always say
that they did talk to us and we ignored them, but I feel we are
covered. At a previous international tournament our PC had to
collect over 200 signatures from participants from 10 different
countries (and languages), something we did not want to repeat
having to do.

I did learn something about shooting in airports on this shoot
that I never knew before. Apparently airports are 'public spaces'
and a location release or permission is not required to shoot
there, (although with security being what it is it is best to call
ahead and let them know you are coming and what you'll be
doing there.)

My question is, if someone is in an area considered a public
space (ie; an airport) do they have any expectation of privacy? Not
that we were shooting close ups of strangers but as our
character lined up and said his good-byes there were strangers
standing around him who will end up on screen in the
background. What would the situation be there when it is in what
is considered "public space" and there is obviously a film crew
present and working?

Ben Kempas
Wed 27 Feb 2002Link
Thor - Welcome to the D-Word. This is the public forum {LINK NOT IMPORTED},
maybe you want to post your question inside {LINK NOT IMPORTED} as
well.

You can introduce yourself in {LINK NOT IMPORTED} and post
your question in the Legal Corner {LINK NOT IMPORTED}.

Carissa Potenza
Wed 27 Mar 2002Link
I'm a recent addition to the D-Word community as well, but
thought I'd inquire of this forum:

I'm re-directing my career (after 4 years in production at MTV
News & Docs), and am tremendously interested in outreach
campaigning for social impact docs. I'd love any suggestions or
advice about this area of work, as well as any ideas of who are
the best folks to contact to find work in this field. Thanks so
much!

Doug Block
Thu 28 Mar 2002Link
Carissa, you might want to peruse the MediaRights.org website for ideas. And read the Outreach salon we did here recently {LINK NOT IMPORTED}.


Carissa Potenza
Thu 28 Mar 2002Link
Thanks, checked them both out already, & they're great
resources!

Jesse Turner
Mon 6 May 2002Link
Hello

This is Jesse Turner, I'm a film student in Victoria B.C. I am
looking for everyone's personal definition of the "documentary". If
it isn't to much trouble I would really appreciate it if you
contacted me with your full name, an e-mail adress, and your personal
definition (please don't be afraid to be unique and poetic, though
you don't have to.) This is a study I am doing, your work will NOT be
exploited, I am just a very curious individual looking for a
proffesional opinion on the subject. Thank you for your time and
considerations, I am eager to recieve this information and look
forward to becoming closer to this community of brilliant individuals.
(I also think that this topic would make for a good conversation).

thank you.

please send name, doc-definition, and e-mail to james_pare@shaw.ca

Ben Kempas
Mon 6 May 2002Link
Please don't double-post. Most of us do read all topics. Thanks :-)

Doug Block
Mon 6 May 2002Link
My definition of documentary is pretty loose, since I love docs that
stretch the form and blur the line between fiction and non-fiction.

I guess I'd define it as, hmmm... I think I better think some more
before I answer ;-)

Doug Block
Mon 6 May 2002Link
Actually, post your answers here instead of emailing Jesse. He can
always come back, and it would be valuable to have the answers
archived.

Jesse Turner
Mon 6 May 2002Link
Thanks people. This will be a great help.

John Burgan
Mon 6 May 2002Link
"A documentary is a film without women. If there is a woman, it's a
semi-documentary." said Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures: quoted
by Fred Zinneman in his autobiography.

I don't necessarily concur with this opinion, but there you go.

Doug Block
Tue 7 May 2002Link
How's this...? "A work, such as a film or television program,
presenting political, social, or historical subject matter in a
factual and informative manner and often consisting of actual news
films or interviews accompanied by narration."

Actually, got this at www.dictionary.com. And it's about 20 years
out of date!

Today, it's more like... a story with a sweeping dramatic arc,
featuring fascinating characters in a highly unusal situation of great
conflict, where the filmmakers had complete access at all times.

Sound like fiction films? Well, check out the HBO schedule sometime.

Jesse Turner
Tue 7 May 2002Link
Thanks these are all fantastic. I look foreward to any others you
may have. Many thanks again, you guys are great.

Ben Kempas
Tue 7 May 2002Link
Documentaries are made out of curiosity and manage to keep the
viewers' curiosity alive.

Documentaries are made out of responsibility and manage to make the
viewers aware of their responsibility.

How's that?

Paul Robinson
Sat 11 May 2002Link
I have a pretty simple question. I am in the middle of shooting a
documentary on a local heavyweight bower and have had several
inquires already about it. My question is regarding license fees and
broadcasting rights, how much ? One partcular inquiry came from a tv
station in Indonesia ! I would like to have some idea of the price
range before I blunder in and blow the whole deal! Any information
would be greatly appreciated

Doug Block
Mon 13 May 2002Link
Don't know for sure, Paul, but I doubt it's much. You should read
the Jan Rofekamp conference we just held, and especially the link to
his report on the state of the international marketplace.

Rachelle Cournoyer
Mon 13 May 2002Link
Look in the international TV trade magaziness, MIP TV issue. They
give dollar values for television sales in various countries that are
fairly reliable in giving a ballpark.

Craig Highberger
Wed 22 May 2002Link
I am working on a biographical documentary of a person who was a now
little-known performer (now deceased). I have many photos from the
subjects personal collection, performance stills and studio shots
(for PR). Several dozen I want to use are unattributed... and most
are decades old and none of the surviving friends or relatives have
any idea of who the photogs were. I remember seeing a documentary
several years ago that had something in the end credits along the
lines of acknowledging these unattributed photos... anyone have any
thoughts on this?

Doug Block
Wed 22 May 2002Link
Welcome, Craig. How can you acknowledge an unattributed work? Or,
to put it a different way, what's the point?

Craig Highberger
Wed 22 May 2002Link
HA! You are correct Doug... but what I saw was something atune
to: "The producers have made every effort to attribute
photographs used in this film from the private collections... yada
yada..." which is to ward off lawsuits. In my case this is the
situation... I have made every effort but still want to use these
unattributed photos. Just wondered if anyone else has been in
this position. It is maddening. Thank goodness, just today I got
in touch with a retired big name photog who has many shots that
I need in his files... but I would love to hear from anyone who has
used unattributed photos as cutaways. Thanks!

Erica Ginsberg
Thu 23 May 2002Link
I think I saw this done recently in Alan Berliner's "The Sweetest
Sound" (http://www.pbs.org/pov/sweetestsound/). He used a lot of
archival family film shots at the beginning (the kind of strange
stuff you find at garage sales) and then ended the film with
something along the lines of "If you know any of the folks in these
films, contact me."

As for your question, I think that if the photos are from the
performer's personal collection, he (or his family) owns the rights.
When you say "studio shots," I assume you mean like a Sears studio
rather than Warner Bros. If the latter, you might need rights from
the movie studio.

Craig Highberger
Thu 23 May 2002Link
Thanks, Erica, that is just what I was thinking of - thanks for the
link too! Craig

Olympia Stone
Thu 30 May 2002Link
Hi, my name is Olympia Stone and I have worked in the tv
production world for a long time and am making my first
documentary. I am just beginning the film festival application
process. Does anyone know anything about how to write a good
synopsis of your documentary for these applications? Is there a
book I can buy? Any advice, tips, information would be greatly
appreciated--thanks!!!

Craig Highberger
Thu 30 May 2002Link
Olympia, I am in the same situtation and found wonderful examples on the PBS POV documentary website:

There are lots of examples of the materials prepared for PR including synopsis, fact sheets, etc.

Good luck! Craig


Doug Block
Thu 30 May 2002Link
The IFP website has a sample application for attending the IFP
Market's No Borders section. Go to: www.ifp.org. You could also go
to IFP's office in NYC and look at back copies of their market
catalogues. AIVF's office in NY has an extensive library which could
also help.

There's also the Sundance website, where they have the past few
year's catalogues archived. For your purposes, that might be best of
all. I think it's www.sundance.org.

Good luck, Olympia!

Olympia Stone
Thu 30 May 2002Link
Perfect and just what I was looking for --thanks so much!!!

Virginia Williams
Fri 31 May 2002Link
I've got a question about digital transfers. I want to do a 'clone'
of a large format dv tape going to a mini-dv. I don't want a composite
transfer bc I don't want to lose a generation. Does anyone know where
to get this done? Thank

Doug Block
Mon 3 Jun 2002Link
It's a large world out there, Virginia. Where do you live?

Erin Nesbit
Wed 12 Jun 2002Link
This is probably going to be an incredibly basic question for most of
you, but maybe you can woo me with your expertise?
I'm interested in any info on setting up a Final Cut Pro system that
I'm not likely to get from the Apple people, or any opinions from
people who've used the system in different forms. Specifically, what
types of decks, drives, other accessories are best or preferable? It
might be helpful to know that the project for which I'm inquiring is
being shot on PAL/16x9/DVCAM.
Thank you all!

David Herman
Thu 13 Jun 2002Link
http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/fcp_homepage_index.html#tutorial
for everything auhoritative you NEED to know about fcp
cheers

Steven Austin
Tue 30 Jul 2002Link
I'm not so saavy about this forum yet, please forgive me if this was
posted elsewhere. (it contains a new question)

I'm a filmmaker (12 years in the industry) and I'm about to embark
on my first documentary feature.

My topic is rather unique, so I can't reveal it online. Due to the
timely nature of my piece and my relative inexperience in the field,
I'd like to ask some seasoned pros a few key questions regarding:

1. co-productions, ie. finding the right partner(s) to help finance
and/or distribute my feature doc.
2. acquiring film clips and still photos, fair usage laws and public
domain.
3. the discovery of copyrights for films already made, plus
discovery of underlying literary rights of such films.

Any help would be appreciated! I can be reached at
philnoir@earthlink.net

Thank you.

Doug Block
Wed 31 Jul 2002Link
It would help if you could ask more specific questions, Steven. And
maybe one at a time?

Donna Barker
Mon 12 Aug 2002Link
I'm researching a possible film topic and have spent hours trying to
find comprehensive doc film libraries so I can check out what other
films have been made on this topic. I don't feel like I'm hitting
gold yet. Any sites you would recommend? Thanks.

Doug Block
Tue 13 Aug 2002Link
Donna, have you tried doing a Google search? First, by your subject
+ "documentary film". Then under "documentary film, distributor".
Then you might contact the more prolific doc distributors (ie.
Filmmakers Library, California Newsreel, First Run Features) and
collectives for self-distributed docs like New Day Films.

Donna Barker
Tue 13 Aug 2002Link
Thank you Doug, both for your honest welcome to the list (although I
notice by your bio that you are a thriving working doc
filmmaker...afraid of the competition, perhaps!? ;> ) and for the
quick reply to my querry.

My approach was exactly as you described, using Google. I'll check
out the distributors. Aside from the Canadian National Film Board
that approach hadn't occurred to me. Gotta dust off my research
skills I guess. And maybe there just haven't been many films made on
the topic I'm working on.

Doug Block
Tue 13 Aug 2002Link
I always try to scare away the newbies, Donna ;-) Way too many of
them out there. Those damn cheapie dv camcorders are to blame!

But clearly there's no scaring you off, so God bless.... And, yep,
ya gotta do your homework.

By the way, I wouldn't be scared off even if there have been other
films done on the subject. There's always room for diff. approaches
and p.o.v.'s.

And yours will be better, of course.

Donna Barker
Tue 13 Aug 2002Link
So, Doug, maybe we could carry on this therapeutic exchange off-
list. How much do you charge to provide witty words of encouragement
to newbies in need?

James LaVeck
Mon 19 Aug 2002Link
Hello all,

I have a 43 minute English language doc for which I am looking to create a
Spanish language version. I have a good translation, which will be read by
the subject of the doc, who is a native speaker. My question is this: can
anyone recommend some good NYC firms that would be good to work with
on creating the new soundtrack, from recording the Spanish dialogue,
matching to picture, etc. I am looking for people with lots of experience in
this specialty area.

TIA

James LaVeck

Rebecca Romani
Thu 5 Sep 2002Link
Olympia~ hope your festival circuit is going well. I had the same
problem as well as asking myself is this realy as interesting as I
would like to think it is (answer:well, that depends...)Anyway, I
looked at past program descriptions of festivals I was interested in
to dtermine what kind of work they show, but more importantly how do
the programming people describe the material. That was really helpful.

Byrd Mcdonald
Thu 19 Sep 2002Link
Hey D-Word, thanks for your continued existence.

I have visited these forums sporadically over the last year, but rarely posted.
I'm posting now because I'm having a major melt down and I want other
opinions or some perspective.

i'm in the painful final stages of completing a documentary I've worked on for 3
years about people in the haunted attraction industry. The film profiles
various men and women who have been building and directing "haunted
houses" for years. It's a portrait of a strange, unusual industry, but more
importantly a portrait of the creators, and what makes them do what they do,
and what makes patrons pay money to be scared.

In researching haunted houses, I of course read about "hell houses" and even
went to one in Denver for a week, where I shot some of the best footage I
have. (For those not familiar, hell houses are church ran haunted houses that
intend to scare morality into patrons through skits involving abortion, drugs,
homosexuality). However, the hell houses always stuck out as not belonging
in my movie, which is very much a valentine to Halloween and people who
draw some creative energy from this time of year.

Then, George Radcliff's HELL HOUSE emerged and begain getting raves at
different festivals.

My issue is that i fear people are going to compare my film to HELL HOUSE in
some way. HELL HOUSE is a wonderful movie (I've seen it), but very different
from my film. however, they are both about haunted houses, just opposite
ends of the spectrum.

I know this happens every day, that people get "scooped" before their film is
done. But, I am looking for advice on how to position my movie so that it
doesnt' get compared to HELL HOUSE and doesn't get perceived as a small
subject which another movie has already covered.

Doug Block
Thu 19 Sep 2002Link
I think there was one year where three different docs about women
boxers came out. All were very good and quite successful.

Moral is, I think you position your film as if Hell House never
existed. There's always room for different p.o.v.'s about the same
(or similar) subjects.

Byrd Mcdonald
Thu 19 Sep 2002Link
Thanks Doug.

I'm in the trenches of finishing the film, and sometimes it's hard to put
everything in perspective.

Back to the trenches, Sundance deadline on the horizon.

Byrd

Robert Goodman
Fri 20 Sep 2002Link
Wish you the best of luck with Sundance.

Byrd Mcdonald
Fri 20 Sep 2002Link
Thanks Robert.

I know the chances are slim. You gotta keep hoping.

I'm done rendering. See ya later.

Byrd

Join this discussion now. You need to log in or register if you want to post.