How to Construct a Group Release Form and When to Use It

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Video Release Forms

Getting a legal release from those that are going in front of your motion film or digital video camera should be standard. This is done any time that you are not just passively capturing a person in a public location without much focus on them. The legality of using someone’s image is not an exact or objective science, so it is better safe than sorry in almost every situation. In some cases you will be using such a large crowd that a normal photo release for every individual person is unrealistic. In these cases you can decide not to use a regular photo release and instead use a group release form, and possibly a location release form as well.

Group Release Form

A group release form, which is not the same as getting a normal blanket release from people in the area that may end up getting in your frame, is a photo release form that applies to more than one person. The basic tenets of that group release form are already found on the normal photo release form and then applied to multiple parties by the construction of the form.

What’s Included in the Group Release Form

To start creating a group release form you will also label the film, production company, address for production company or relevant contact, the producer’s name and contact information, as well as the date. Below that will be the expository paragraphs that you find on all photo release forms. In this you will start with “I grant permission to” and a blank space where you put the producer’s name. After this the form will essentially grant all practical rights to use the subject’s image, likeness, voice, performance, and anything else you may capture for said film. That said film will also be listed in later spots, though the title does not have to be absolute and can simply be a working title. There are plenty of legally determined forms already that you can take this text from. The essential thing that you need to know must be included is that the producer maintains all rights to image for that specific project, any distribution or use thereof, and that the producer is not legally liable for any reproduction of their image for the film.

Differences Between the Release Forms

Below this is where the primary difference between the regular video photo release form and the group release form lie. Here you are going to place three or four columns with lines for multiple entries of information. You will include one for name, one for address and contact information, and one for social security number. The social security number is used because it is specific and personal to each person and adds validity to their entry. It is much harder for them to claim that you forged them if the social security number is included. You may also want to include a location for a signature separate from the normal name location. In this way you can end up getting several names without the extensive amount of information that you have on a normal photo release form.

Using the Form

To be safer in a legal sense you may want to only use group release forms when filming large groups and if you continue with one person in more than one scene or location shoot you may want to use a regular photo release form. It is best to be as specific with your forms as you can when considering digital video legal issues. You will want to include this in your production binder along with your location information sheet, location release forms, breakdown sheets, shot lists, shot logs, and any other types of documentation.