Learn how to use a location release to make sure you have the legal rights to film on a given location.
Since you will most likely not have the money to hire contractors, art designers, and set coordinators to build a set for your digital video film you will probably be filming at real locations. If you are filming a news, home video, or documentary project then you will definitely be running around to actual locations to get footage. To make sure that you are able to shoot at a specific location, and that the owners or managers of that location will not take legal recourse against you for filming there, you should try to use a location release whenever possible. Be courteous and polite when asking for permission.
To begin this simple contract put a line stating that the signer of the contract grants you, by name, permission to enter and use the property. Provide a line for the signer to write the correct title and address for the location. Have the subsequent line state that the entry to this location is for the purposes of filming.
You next have several sections diagramming exactly what uses the property will have during filming. The first is for the property use, which includes bringing equipment, cast, and crew onto the property.
The second is designed to help you keep ownership rights of all the images of the property that are collected through photography or videography during the filming process. Without this they can try and claim legal rights to all images that have the property, both interior and exterior, in them.
The third is based on the care you will take of the property. Here you state that the property will be taken care of reasonably well and that there will not be any permanent alterations made to the property as a result of the production process. Promise that the property will be returned to normal conditions, except for the amount of wear that comes from general use.
The fourth section is one that specifically deals with the owner’s liability based on injuries or illness that may occur as a result of production on their property. Make sure to absolve them of any legal responsibility for anything that occurs on their property during filming.
The last section is one that gives you the legal “authority" to enter the property. Here is where you list the production company and yourself by name as having the right to enter and use the property, as well as anybody that is involved with said production and company.
Provide a place for signatures at the bottom, with one for the owner to sign that says, “approved and accepted by" above it. Have a spot for them to print their name below this, and then provide a spot for you to sign to show that you also agree to the set terms and conditions. Make sure to date both signatures.
Public media usage, especially in the fields that fall into the realm of electronic media, are particularly liable to legal involvement. Make sure to clarify the terms and conditions with legal contracts so you can avoid a lawsuit later on.