The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

Mentoring Room

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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.

Sam Rabeeh

And I thought it was NC lingo for Canada.

Is an on-camera approval (or recorded voice for audio only interview) the equivalent of a release?

Jo-Anne Velin

in news it is. I don't know about audio only, but definitely in video. You might have to have it on each cassette if you are recording to tape.

Monica Williams

Does anyone know where I can find a DVCPro HD codec that will allow me to view/edit footage shot on a Panasonic HVX200 (720 @ 24 native) on a Windows computer?

I want to be able to use either Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas Pro.


Mark Barroso

You need to be realistic about where this film is to going to be seen and conform to the laws of that country. It's folly to ask someone in the States or Germany about releases. If you want a lock-tight, international release because you're making the next $100 million dollar grossing documentary, then yes, get the most airtight release. Otherwise, you're just going to waste time and intimidate interview subjects.

In the US, news people do not need releases. Filmmakers do. On-camera releases are second best to written ones, and generally accepted for non-controversial interviews9"Boy, that show was great!")

Monica Williams

Thank you Robert :-)

Is there a way to find out what networks or distributors pay for documentaries that are similar to mine? Do I need to contact the producers of those films directly or is there an easier way?

Robert Goodman

you can search the trade papers – hollywood reporter and variety – but take the numbers with a grain of a salt. Most docs are sold for very little money.

Sean Riddle

I'm in the education field overseeing students making their films. Occasionally I have students interested in Documentaries and they often have questions about legally using images, people, etc... is there a website or anything that kind of lists when you do and don't need to get release forms on people in your documentary? Or, for example the legality of using images from Scientology, that were shown in public, but using them for your film without approval from Scientology? Or taking images from websites such as YouTube and putting them in your film?