No matter what you are filming, you need release forms. Release forms are applicable for documentaries, interviews, video footage, pictures, television series, films, drama and other creative products among others. There are many types of release forms. Personal release form is the most common, followed by group release forms, materials release and location releases. Every image or video that you use, every content you use and wherever you are filming with whatever materials, all components must have an accompanying release form for you to be able to claim the eventual product to be your own.
A release form is often issued by a production company or by the executive producer. Creative directors or the directors can also manage release forms. In some cases, production controllers get into this action. Whoever deals with release forms, it is best to have a lawyer involved. Major production companies, studios and distributors or exhibitors will have their own legal team to deal with such release forms.
The basic need for release form is simple. A person, group or organization must provide the right to the filmmaker or producer to use the footage, image, whatever is being said or the materials being presented. Without such rights, no one can use the content and the people or organization concerned must pass this right in perpetuity, for production, reproduction and sharing or exhibiting the final product, which could be a documentary or a fictional film.
Release forms are not just applicable for people who feature in a documentary or film. Writers, creative directors, musicians, editors and all other creative and technical professionals working on a project also need to sign release forms. But the release forms signed by the people connected with the development or production of the film are different from the subjects of the film. So a person on whose life a documentary is based or who features in a documentary will sign a completely different release form than the narrator of the documentary, if the two people are different.
Release forms are necessary before a project hits the floor. Else, a project may get produced but will not be distributed or released in the absence of all relevant release forms. As complicated as it may sound or as difficult as it may appear to have someone provide such rights to the filmmaker, release forms are very common and the people concerned don’t mind signing them.