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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.

Chan Park
Mon 10 Oct 2011Link

Hello,

I have been making a documentary, titled “Tango Your Life,” whose trailer can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0atvWyQ4rrs, if you care to watch it.

Basically I filmed and used in my documentary film many dance scenes, which come with copyrighted music, being played during the filming sessions. As these were dancing scenes, it’s not possible to avoid the music.

When I approached a law firm here in Buenos Aires, their interpretation is that I sync the copyrighted music to the film. That means, I have to pay the copyright loyalty to two groups: one representing composers/authors and the other for record companies. The loyalty is extremely high enough to put me out of the game.

When I asked the firm about “fair use,” their response was:
1) Fair use is provided by our law only for the limited use of a work for educational o scientific purposes. Other uses are not comprised within this exception. If you proceed to sync fractions of music themes with your documentary without having prior authorization from their authors, you could be subject to a lawsuit.

Then I discovered “Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use,” under which I believe the music recorded and used in my documentary falls under the protection of “fair use.”

I admit there are some incidents in the film, where the music was used beyond “fair use.” For example, some scenes start with a dance scene, which later is overlaid with an interview while the music continues to play to the end of the interview. This kind of scenes will be fixed to comply with “fair use.”

So my question is, “If the documentary shows dance scenes that come with copyrighted music, does it fall under “fair use?”

Please provide your advice here or to tangozen@hotmail.com. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.


Marj Safinia
Tue 11 Oct 2011Link

Hey Chan, since you're a professional member, I suggest you copy and paste your whole question in the Legal Corner , where you're more likely to get the kind of reply you're looking for.

Edited Tue 11 Oct 2011 by Marj Safinia

Chan Park
Tue 11 Oct 2011Link

Thank you, Marj. I am new to the forum. I'll do...


Marj Safinia
Tue 11 Oct 2011Link

We normally strongly discourage double posting in more than one topic, but in this case I think it's appropriate.


Benjamin Prawer
Mon 24 Oct 2011Link

Hi mentors,

I'm making a documentary tentatively titled "Life is Good," and am currently looking for a non-profit to fiscally sponsor the project. We have donors who want to give money, but need a non-profit to funnel the money through. Topics in the film include: life optimism, sailing, aerospace, hypothermia, young death, living life to the fullest.

Here is the log line:
In the wake of Tyler Lorenzi’s unexpected death, an adventurous list he made of must-dos in his hometown of San Francisco inspires four of his best friends from different walks of his life to take a trip to the Bay Area in his honor. As two of his college sailing buddies, his best friend from high school and the young woman whose life he saved undertake the difficult task of paying tribute, they try to emulate Ty’s outlook on life as they each struggle to find meaning and transformation in their adventure.

Info packet attached. Any ideas would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!
-Ben


Marj Safinia
Mon 24 Oct 2011Link

Hi Ben. Lots of organizations offer fiscal sponsorship. Try the International Documentary Association for a start: http://www.documentary.org/community/sponsorship

There are many others too...


Benjamin Prawer
Tue 25 Oct 2011Link

In reply to Marj Safinia's post on Mon 24 Oct 2011 :

Thanks Marj, much appreciated!


Lucas Catton
Mon 31 Oct 2011Link

Hi, I joined the D Word earlier in the year when I started some of the research for my first documentary and have found some great information, but I confess that my visitation has been sporadic. I completed "Curing Addiction" in September and have submitted to some film festivals and working some circles to start with. I was wondering if anyone knows of some good educational distributors for colleges and other institutions that I could contact.


Doug Block
Mon 31 Oct 2011Link

Lucas, go to "Search Posts" at the top of the page and plug in "educational distributors". Should turn up some previous suggestions.


Lucas Catton
Mon 31 Oct 2011Link

Thanks,Doug. I did try to do that over the summer but a few of them were no longer in business. I will do that again and look for other ones that I'm sure I missed.


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