You Represent the Film Community

The states of technology, film, and politics are constantly developing and changing. This produces new challenges for filmmakers. Before 9/11 recording equipment prohibitions were more lax, and before that there were drones no one was forced to think about remote controlled aerials being regulated. So you can imagine the confusion that now exists concerning the legality of filming rights for non-filmmakers and filmmakers. Media activism has its place, it’s just not on a film set, and this is especially true when badges are involved. It’s ok to be passionate about the First Amendment, or the conceptions mentioned above about filming and locations. Even if you’ve been asked to leave, you can take a safe stance within the proper channels. Arguing with others, especially security guards, does not benefit you or the film community. It also makes clearing a set even more difficult. Of course no one can make you delete footage you’ve already captured, but that is a confrontation that is best and easily avoided. The goal is to make a lasting film, video, commercial, or contribution, not enemies.

This is my last post on our Summer filming kick off series. I hope that it has been of value to you. Video is one of the most effective marketing tools, but be smart & considerate. Video will serve you and your clients well for generations to come.

Happy filming, and don’t forget we have a full media department who can shoot all your video needs as well as take your photographs.

– Audra Hajj

 

 

Find the Legal Forms You Need

There are ways to find the legal forms you need, even if you’re on a budget. You may not have the money for an attorney either, or the funding for college to become one yourself. If you have a smartphone you are smart indeed because there is an app called Shake that is for both Android and iOS platforms, which gives you mobile release forms right at your fingertips. Shake is versatile and popular since it is so easy to use and free. It gives you the chance to use over a dozen location releases, talent releases, video forms created by licensed attorneys, contracts and parental consent forms that cover everyone from costume designers to extras. Let’s get one thing straight, nothing can actually take the place of an attorney, but Shake gives them a run for their money.

When you have the time and resources you can also use another great legal form site called LegalZoom. They provide downloadable location and talent release forms that come with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Simply download their instructions, detailed releases, and explanation of legal terms so you can be sure to use their forms responsibly. The investment in LegalZoom is inexpensive $14.95, a one-time investment. Just remember you get what you pay for, so film smart with the correct legal forms.

STATE FILM OFFICES & ORGANIZATIONS

Alabama Film Office

Alaska Film Office

Arizona Production Association

Arkansas Production Alliance

California Film Commission

Colorado Office of Film

Television & Media

Connecticut Office of Film

Television & Digital Media

Delaware Film Office

D.C. Office of Motion Picture

& Television Development

Florida Office of Film & Entertainment

Georgia Film & TV Production

Hawaii Film Office

Idaho Film Office

Illinois Film Office

Indiana Film Office

Iowa State Office of Media Production

Kansas Film Commission

Kentucky Film Office

Louisiana Entertainment

Maine Film Office

Maryland Film Office

Massachusetts Film Office

Michigan Film Office

Minnesota Film & TV

Mississippi Film Office

Missouri Film Office

Montana Film Office

Nebraska Film Office

Nevada Film Office

New Hampshire Film

& Television Office

New Jersey Motion Picture

& Television Commission

New Mexico Film Office

New York Loves Film

North Carolina Film Office

North Dakota Film Production

Ohio Film Office

Oklahoma Film & Music Office

Oregon Governor’s Office of Film

& Television

Pennsylvania Film Office

Rhode Island Film & TV Office

South Carolina Film Commission

South Dakota Film Office

Tennessee Film, Entertainment

& Music Commission

Texas Film Commission

Utah Film Commission

Vermont Film & New Media

Virginia Film Office

Washington Filmworks

West Virginia Film Office

Wisconsin Film Organization

Wyoming Film Office

Make Sure You Obtain the Appropriate Permits

Permits, approval, and permission are all important when it comes to filming, and every location is different. However, you can protect yourself by researching permits ahead of time. If there are any local film offices you can start by checking with them prior to filming. For example, you may not need a permit as long as you shoot in a particular manner such as on a tri-pod or with a hand-held camera. These types of restrictions are different everywhere. If you are going to film something like a car chase via a crane, chances are you will need some form of permit. You will find that some areas are more lenient that others too.

When you connect with a local film office, all of this will be made transparent so you can decide how you want to shoot within regulations. A film office can also provide you with other benefits since they exist to support filmmakers. They are one of the best resources for information concerning filming locations, casting calls, and potential tax incentives. If you are filming in larger counties, cities, national or state parks they may have their own regulations in addition to any state-wide terms. You can check with the state organization if that’s the case. Overall you should always ask if local permits are needed, then follow-up by asking what else you can do to get along with them.

STATE FILM OFFICES & ORGANIZATIONS

Alabama Film Office

Alaska Film Office

Arizona Production Association

Arkansas Production Alliance

California Film Commission

Colorado Office of Film

Television & Media

Connecticut Office of Film

Television & Digital Media

Delaware Film Office

D.C. Office of Motion Picture

& Television Development

Florida Office of Film & Entertainment

Georgia Film & TV Production

Hawaii Film Office

Idaho Film Office

Illinois Film Office

Indiana Film Office

Iowa State Office of Media Production

Kansas Film Commission

Kentucky Film Office

Louisiana Entertainment

Maine Film Office

Maryland Film Office

Massachusetts Film Office

Michigan Film Office

Minnesota Film & TV

Mississippi Film Office

Missouri Film Office

Montana Film Office

Nebraska Film Office

Nevada Film Office

New Hampshire Film

& Television Office

New Jersey Motion Picture

& Television Commission

New Mexico Film Office

New York Loves Film

North Carolina Film Office

North Dakota Film Production

Ohio Film Office

Oklahoma Film & Music Office

Oregon Governor’s Office of Film

& Television

Pennsylvania Film Office

Rhode Island Film & TV Office

South Carolina Film Commission

South Dakota Film Office

Tennessee Film, Entertainment

& Music Commission

Texas Film Commission

Utah Film Commission

Vermont Film & New Media

Virginia Film Office

Washington Filmworks

West Virginia Film Office

Wisconsin Film Organization

Wyoming Film Office

Understand the Difference between Plagiarism and Parody

Plot elements can be common. There are quite a few movies, and even commercials, throughout history that have the same type of storyline. This happens mainly because it’s human nature. Even if a plot line is close to another it is not consider to be a copyright violation. The idea behind why it’s not an infringement has to do with intent. Just because two movies or films are similar doesn’t mean they are in the same genre, or that they’re imitating one another on purpose. The overall idea is that each film has its own unique message and it’s a clear parody. This is how a lot of songs, jingles and movies are produced in two different genres such as drama and comedy. They do not directly take information and re-use it; they create new content based on a parody of it. Knowing all of this, it is still a good idea to ask an artist or film maker for their permission out of respect. It’s still different from stealing or plagiarising, even if it is more complex.

Copyright, How Much Does It Protect You?

What Is the Concept of Copyright?

The definition of copyright is the protective right that a creator holds for a body of work that they produce. This can include video clips, a specific plot element, or an audio track. If you want to use someone else’s work, you have to obtain permission otherwise you will be liable for damages. Copyright starts to exist the moment something is created, which means you do not need to register your work in order to establish ownership of it. When you take the steps to register it, it just proves you are the owner and makes litigation easier since it’s then archived as public record. You can have artwork officially registered with the United State Copyright Office for $35. You can also register it through an attorney. For other organizations and screenwriters, the Writer’s Guild of America offers their registration services that are archived and renewable for five year periods. The overall idea is to respect the property of other people, then choose how to protect your property.

Copyright Protection Does Have Limitations

Although it may seem that having copyright protection will protect you fully, there are some limitations. For instance, it does not safeguard you against broad genres. There is nothing preventing someone else or even you from coming up with the next film about a love triangle, for example. It can be about the subject matter, but it cannot directly follow the specific plot line or monologue of an older movie about the same subject. If you take the exact same idea, you are asking for a lot of trouble. It’s always best to be original; it will keep you out of court and save you a lot of unnecessary expenses in the long run.

Is Your Subject Off Limits?

You need to understand when you’re filming in sensitive and insensitive locations. Whether you realized it or not, if you’re filming from private property across the road, and filming someone incidentally, there are certain subjects that are off-limits specifically for security reasons. These areas include government buildings, some aspects of mass transportation like train stations, airports, and tunnels, and military installations. You should always search for signs that make it clear that the area prohibits recording devices or photography. Try to reach out to their media relations department before you arrive if you are unsure of whether your subject is off limits.

Does this apply to public figures? Not entirely. High-profile people such as politicians and celebrities endure less protection against being caught on film. This is because when a public figure is voluntarily in the public eye, to some extend they waive their privacy. That’s why the paparazzi’s footage of stars doing mundane things in life is an actual act that does not require a release form. This doesn’t mean that people do not have the right to control how you use their likeness. They can. You do not have the right to use the documentation with a commercial slant.

June Series On Filming !

Summer is here and we all want to capture great footage, but be careful. There are rules and proper processes. In June our media department is busier than ever , and our legal department always is on full alert during the summer months to protect the company. I wanted to share with my readers some tips and information that will help you avoid any unintentional violations.

So tune in this month for some great information that could save you thousands of dollars in fees and time.

Hope this summer will be one of the best ones ever!

– Audra Hajj

 

 

 

 

Product Video – It’s NOT just for the Big Guys anymore!

I wanted to do this as a follow up to a past post I did I received many request for more information so I wanted to get this to you ASAP. Videos are the greatest thing since sliced bread and I am excited that our readers want more information about this topic. So let’s talk a bit more about this.

 

Earlier small to medium sized business marketers could not help but look wistfully at the commercials made for the products of big companies. Those companies could afford to spend millions of dollars on the marketing campaigns and broadcast commercials on television, taking the major chunk of customers with them. Even if small to medium sized businesses could make inexpensive but creative videos of their products/services they had no way of marketing them effectively, as they could not afford to pay for television spots which was the only way to reach the masses.

The effectiveness of video marketing

The development of Internet changed all that; it began with providing a level playing field to all kinds of businesses, whether they were big or small. For example, the small business could have as attractive and useful a website as the big one and it also had a fair chance of appearing among the top of major search engines’ results. This could be achieved through many effective online marketing strategies like article marketing, email marketing and social bookmarking. All of these are still used with varying degrees of success. But the world of Internet is rapidly evolving and new developments take place almost on a daily basis.

 

A fairly recent development is the increasing use of videos for marketing on the web. In fact videos have become a rage as far as Internet marketing is concerned. An important reason why videos serve as powerful marketing tools could probably be that they offer users with a lot more convenient way of absorbing information. More Internet users would prefer to watch a video than read a long article. The success of YouTube has led to the creation of hundreds of video distribution sites most of which offer their services for free. So now even small to medium sized business owners can shoot inexpensive but creative and interesting videos of their products and services, and upload them on their own websites as well as the many free video distribution sites like YouTube where they can be potentially viewed by hundreds and thousands of global users who visit these sites every day.

Making your product/service video infomercial

Many online business owners may think that making product videos is not their cup of tea and they would invariably botch up the whole thing. To this let me clarify, I am not talking about creating a multi-million dollar commercial. What we aim to do here is simply create what is called an infomercial. It would involve shooting your product or service as it is being used, that’s all. All that you would need is a camcorder, (you may also use a mobile camera as nowadays they can also produce high quality videos), an interesting script and maybe a good speaker/presenter. Apart from showing the products being used you should also try to emphasize the benefits that your products would bring to the users and how it’s better than other similar products available in the market. Make sure you plan out the shoot in advance so that you know beforehand what kind of video you are aiming for – nothing botches up a video more than lack of planning. Spontaneous on-the-set improvisations do work but without a concrete overall idea of how things should be you would need a lot of luck to get it right.

 

The simplest way of shooting an infomercial would be take your equipment and presenter to a well-lit location and then shoot them as they introduce the product, use them, express satisfaction and talk about their benefits and advantages. Think about it, if you present all this in the form of an article most users may not go beyond a couple of paragraphs, but with an interesting video you have a better chance of keeping them engaged till the end.

 

You may record the audio on the spot or separately. The latter is recommended because that way you would be able to ensure high quality and clear audio. You can later sync the audio and video in the editing session. If you are willing to spend a little more, then you can also jazz up the video by adding titles, nice transitions, graphics, 3D animation and special effects which show the product in a very impressive light.

Adding videos to your site

 

After you’ve been able to convert your raw video to usable ones comes the question of how to distribute them on the Internet. You have two options; you can upload the video on a free video distribution site like YouTube and then embed it to your site, or you can host it on your own domain. The latter would ensure that you have total control of how your video appears. If you host it on YouTube, there might be ads running at the bottom and many other distractions in the form of related videos. When you host it on your own site, you can eliminate all such undesirable features and also place it on a custom page which would be designed to persuade the user to order the product. But even if you are hosting your infomercials on your own site, you should also upload them on the major free video distribution sites. In fact you could set up your own channel on YouTube where you can regular upload videos of different products and services. It would provide you with extra exposure and that’s always a good thing!

 

Selling products online is a great idea for sellers, as well as consumers. But a big hurdle lies in the fact that consumers cannot examine products on the Internet the way they can do when shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. By providing them with a video of the product you will be helping them to have a better idea about the same, you can also introduce yourself and your company in the video, this would build trust, all this would greatly improve their chances of conversion. Video marketing can help your ecommerce site achieve great success; if you are not confident about handling video marketing on your own you can take professional assistance from an ecommerce services provider. A professional would help you create effective videos and also put together a powerful video marketing strategy that would bring considerable returns.

What do you think about using videos from YouTube on my site?

Think about it this way – if you see a tutorial on how to plant a tomato seed in well written text, and the same thing in the form of an informative video on another site, which one would you rather see? Web statistics have always shown that websites with videos rank much higher than textual websites, no matter how high quality the written words may be.

Using video has become even simpler nowadays with the ever increasing popularity of video sharing sites like YouTube. All you have to do is look for a video on these websites that would be appropriate for your usage, and then embed the same in your website. So, you can get the benefits of adding videos, minus any significant effort at all.

Have you noticed lately all the video pull out when you search a term in Google? Well they get it. They understand that we are very much living in a world of instant gratification, entertainment, and if at all possible…less reading for presenting products and services.

The videos show up in search results of major search engines, resulting in huge click through rates. Youtube videos are also optimized to ensure that those load quickly, even on the slower internet connections, so you can expect excellent visibility from various types of audience groups.

So, what are the negatives of using YouTube videos on my site?

There are several drawbacks of using YouTube videos in your website. First off, Youtube automatically ranks videos, and displays the ones that are most popular at the moment. Which may or may not be the point you wanted to pull out to your client.

That’s not all. Also, videos embedded from Youtube often show ads at the end. If you are running a business website, and those ads are coincidentally from your competitors, well, you get the idea. This is a major problem with YouTube videos.

Now, tell me the positives. And how do you get the best use of videos from Youtube?

Here are just a few of many, many great ways you can use YouTube and benefit greatly. First of all, by taking a YouTube link and embedding it in your site, you can look as though you are running the video on your site, but not have to pay extra to your hosting company for bandwidth or video streaming. Second, you have the ability to brand your own YouTube channel. This will give you a very sophisticated branding arm, and control over what shows up. When you have your own channel you can stop competitors adds from showing up.

You can also hire a company like ours who knows how to optimize your videos for search within YouTube, and well as the major engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

YouTube will also convert your videos, and give options for making your videos better, and give different quality options, especially if you shoot in HD.

But, to me the real power of video is creating your own; see my post next week on the benefits of custom video production.

Written By: Audra Hajj

Is video a smart investment, and when should I or shouldn’t I use it?

Custom videos are powerful. When done right they can duplicate you, yes duplicate! Why do you sell more than anyone else? Your presentations, your message clarity, confidence in your knowledge, and your passion about your products and services.

But, don’t get to caught up in the perfect take…look at all the videos that go viral today. They are made by real people doing the things they love. So if you or your staff want to start recording videos, how to videos, educational videos, sales videos, product videos or general videos like about us, category videos, or customer support, be real. Your passion is something they can relate to.

If you decide that you want to have professional ones like the ones I do here at my company we can do that as well. But, whether you use us or do them yourself. If you do get custom made videos for your website, make sure those are professionally created. Be sure to hire a good video producing firm, and let them take care of the task for you. Be sure to ask the video producers for a logo of your company to be added to all the videos, preferably throughout the length of it, in a corner of the frames. This will serve as an excellent promotional tactic.

Don’t just upload your video to your own website. Upload it on video sharing websites and YouTube as well, and add a short description of your company when you upload the video. That way, you may get a little share of your traffic from those websites. Even if it is little in comparison to the regular traffic your website gets, you still gain something. After all, the service is free, so why not put it to good use?

Video is in my opinion the very best investment you can make. People today have a very short attention span, so video helps quickly grab their attention and present in a way that is entertaining and informative.

So, are there such situations at all when I should not use videos?

Unfortunately, yes, there are situations where you may have to avoid using videos in your website. Firstly, if you are targeting an audience that has to live with slow internet connections, like those in third world countries, then you may be better off using less video, and more text in your website. Secondly, if you wish your site to be accessible via mobile phones, then you should think twice before embedding to much video. We are seeing more and more phones with the ability to play videos but you need to still offer a balance of text and video at this point.

There is another point of concern. If your video does not add much value to written words, then it is better to avoid using videos at all. For instance, if you are representing the business data about a company’s yearly transactions, you are better off representing those using charts, graphs, tables and photographs. This is a case where textual, image, and graphical content elements are more effective than videos for getting the job done. In a video, those will not be visible long enough for the audience to see, and if that happens, what would be the use of the video in the first place?

So, the bottom line is, whether or not you should add videos to your website will depend on your target audience, the information you want to convey through your website, and the platform (regular internet or mobile internet) that you choose to put your website on. Judge the situation carefully, before you decide. But, in general I will say yes, video is a huge differentiator between you and your competitors. Also video can be used as a duplication of you, the one with the perfect sales pitch, delivery, and excitement. Imagine how many times you have done an amazing presentation about your products and services and thought…wow. If I could just get my employees to duplicate and say what I just said, we would close every deal. Well you can, capture the attention of your potential clients, and they will like the fact they see a face, when buying from your site.

Here are just few recent websites that we have done videos for.

www.worldjewels.com

www.canopymart.com (Also check out their branded YouTube, Twitter and Face book)

www.tarpcoversales.com (Also check out their branded YouTube, Twitter and Face book)

We seem to be moving into the direction of a much cocooned society, so let your video present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when your clients are in the mood to learn more.