Monday 23 July 2012

49 Make 'Em Sign on the Dotted Line

shho /
It´s one of the ickiest-stickiest problems in filmmaking: asking the main subject in your doc to sign a release form. But oh the possible headaches if you neglect to do it. A guy I heard about spent a year filming his family. It was commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE).  After the edit, the family decided they didn´t like his take on them and said it couldn´t be shown. The production was shelved.

We had our own problems with Esa-Pekka Salonen, Finnish composer and former conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I hated to ask him to sign a release form because I was afraid he would cancel the project. And that his team would make a whole bunch of (written demands). In the end everything turned out OK. But there were weeks and even months of anxiety.

Our release form is simple:        


I,  (subject´s name), hearby give permission for Little Margie Productions to use footage taken of me for the production (name of production). These rights extend to film festivals, television, viewings and the internet.

Signed:  (subject´s name)

It´s a drag to ask people to sign, especially if they´re famous and you desperately want to make your doc. But a signed release can save you a whole lot of trouble. And maybe even help avoid a lawsuit.
Lesson 49: Nothing like a John Hancock to make it legal

Next week: 50 Ten Words Every Filmmaker Should Know

PS Littlemargiedoc-blog missed a week due to my Mac malfunctioning.

Monday 9 July 2012

48 Hook Line & Stinker

Before I left Finland for the Wild West Eki and I talked about developing a new project: teaching the Navajo language to kids on the reservation (working title) Tses-naa-Snez (Belong"). I´d read that it´s been compared to Finnish in difficulty. And both languages were suppressed by the US and Finnish  governments at one time. But when I got here I found out that you don´t just walk into a reservation and start shooting. There´s a thick layer of bureaucracy to wade through.

linder6580 /
So when I met a guy (an ex-cop from Wisconsin) who said he had a daughter who worked on the Navajo reservation in Arizona I perked up. But it got better. She was gifted, had got scholarships to Rosemary Hall (a posh preparatory school) and Brown University. Plus, she was beautiful and had been a contestant in the Miss Navajo Beauty Pageant.  Where you not only have to be a knock-out but able to eviscerate a sheep and know what to do with the parts afterwards. Now she was back on the reservation trying to help her people.

I was excited, gave him my card and waited. And waited. He did warn me that she wanted to move to LA and I warned him that a documentary was a long-term  commitment. It´s been three weeks and I just heard at the local hang-out that my ex-cop-connection had put air in his tires and embarked on a 2,000 mile bike trip. Big Disappointment. But I think Eki will agree with me that it´s still a good idea.

Lesson 48 When all else fails have a good cry.

Next week: 49 Make ´EM Sign on the Dotted Line

Monday 2 July 2012

47 Two Tin Cans & a String

Yes, shiny new DVD:s!!
They can say what they want about the internet connecting everyone, but give me the good ole tel anytime. Last Monday I called Eki.  It was good to talk to him. Like old times. He agreed that it was my turn and that he would do the DVDs for "marihunaland".  It´s been nine months since we´ve finished the edit and I haven´t been exactly patient. But now I´ve just read a review of a book called Wait: the art and science of delay by Frank Partnoy. The gist of the book is that some of the best ideas, inventions and maybe even docs hang around for a long time before they´re launched.

For example:  The Post-it. When it was designed, the people at 3M thought it might make a good bookmark that stuck without leaving a trace. But then they decided there weren´t enough readers to make it worthwhile. The project was set aside. To prove that you can´t keep a good idea hidden for long, employees started using the samples to write notes to themselves and stick them on the wall. Mr Partnoy writes that the 12-year delay between invention and the launch of the Post-it Note was a good thing. A bright idea at the right time.

Here in the US there´s a national election coming up on the first Tuesday in November. At least two states (Colorado and Texas), and maybe more, will have initiatives on the ballot to legalize (or decriminalize) marihuana for recreational use. Ann and Bob Lee, parents of Richard Lee*, founder of Oaksterdam University* (the trade school that teaches you everything you need to know about cannabis), advocates of legalization and avid Texas Republicans should have a DVD copy. They made one of the most moving statements ever for legalization of pot in "marihuanaland". And they have the clout to promote it. So Eki, rrrrinng, rrrrring. "If it´s Monday it must be..."

Edit by Eki: The DVD:s are in the mail now... finally.

Lesson 47:  Dial direct and state your case.

*In April 2012 Oaksterdam University and Richard Lee´s apartment were raided by the FBI.

Next week: 48 Hook, Line & Stinker