What Kinds of Insurance Do You Need as a Filmmaker?


What Kinds of Insurance Do You Need as a Filmmaker?

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As a filmmaker, you probably spend most of your time devoted to the art of making films, but you must also consider the business side of things, such as insurance. When making a film, it is vital that you have insurance to protect you and everyone involved in the production. If something goes wrong and you do not have insurance, you can face financial, legal and criminal charges. These are a few of the types of insurance you need to make sure that you are covered.

Short-Term Insurance

Short-term insurance is used to cover only one project. This type of insurance is best if your projects are well spaced out, especially if you are doing one project or less per year. You can also get short-term insurance if you need to do reshoots. You can actually get insurance that covers only one day of filming.

Long-Term Insurance

Long-term insurance covers multiple projects that you produce. This option is best if you plan on doing multiple projects in a year. It is also a good idea to get long-term insurance coverage if you own a production company. It can be cheaper to use this form of insurance instead of insuring each project individually.

Legal Insurance

When making a film, you always run the risk of copyright infringement. People can pop up out of nowhere claiming you are stealing their idea. Copyright insurance can protect you and your project from these claims. Legal insurance can also protect you from libel suits.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance covers injuries and medical expenses for injuries as well as damage to property in unintentional film accidents. For example if a scene being filmed involves a motorcycle, you may need motorcycle liability insurance. Costs vary depending on the amount of coverage you need as well as the type of bike being used. There is always a risk of cast or crew getting injured, even in a film with few stunts. You also want to double check that your liability insurance covers any damage to equipment or properties. Liability insurance can protect you from paying tens of thousands of dollars in the event of an incident.

Workers' Compensation

It is important to have workers’ compensation in case one of your cast or crew gets hurt on set and has to miss work. Worker's compensation will replace their income during their recovery. Without worker's compensation insurance, you may be paying their income out of pocket well beyond the term of your shoot.

It is essential to get all of your insurance coverage sorted out during the pre-production stages of filming. Make sure to include insurance costs in your overall budget. Obviously, doing everything in your power to keep your crew and cast members safe is what you should focus on. But sometimes accidents and incidents can’t be avoided, and that’s why you get insurance. Insurance will protect your cast and crew in the event of injury, and will protect you from significant financial responsibility. Once you have your insurance coverage set up, you can focus on the important thing: making your film.


How to Put Together a PR Campaign for Your Independent Film


How to Put Together a PR Campaign for Your Independent Film

For the aspiring indie filmmaker, not many moments will be enjoyed more than the one that includes a finished movie in hand. Unfortunately, many filmmakers work with such single-minded determination to realize their dream of film production, that they often neglect to have a PR plan in place.

The promotion of an indie film should begin well before final filming finishes, and the movie reaches the editing phase. The following tips will prove beneficial to the indie filmmaker that needs to create his own PR plan.

Start Online

As with many things these days the successful marketing of an independent film begins with spending many hours online. Whether this means having your own website or utilizing social media to your advantage, there are a lot of options to choose from. There are many apps available to help with streamlining the process for the filmmaker promoting his work online.

For example, one popular web application allows the filmmaker to customize features for visited websites. One way to do this is by using an app setup that provides videos periodically to popular websites.

Enter Contests and Competitions

There are many film competitions and contests available online and at film festivals. Sometimes simply applying for one of these events is all it takes to get your film some publicity. Try applying for online competitions to start, and then if things go well, you can always use each contest you win as a credit to your film in the marketing stages. Additionally, winning contests and competitions means that your video will get online publicity as it remains published on the website pages for other filmmakers and film enthusiasts to watch.

Attend Screenings

Film festivals are an excellent way to obtain reviews of your completed work from critics and movie lovers. There is perhaps no bigger homerun possible when executing a PR plan for an independent film than to show it at a film festival. Showing at festivals raises awareness for the current project while providing the opportunity to network with other filmmakers.

Create Trailers

Trailers can be another great way to create awareness and anticipation for an upcoming film project. Many independent filmmakers have experienced success by creating a social media page or channel for the movie project that can be used for the periodic uploading of trailers.

Take It To The Streets

Independent filmmakers will be required to incorporate many guerrilla marketing techniques to bring awareness to movie watchers. A street marketing campaign is a great technique that can be used by all indie filmmakers.

Creativity is the key to street marketing campaigns. Suggestions include passing leaflets, chalking sidewalks, or having characters in the movie make unexpected public appearances in full costume. The number of possible elements to a street marketing campaign is only limited to the imagination of the filmmaker.

Start a Blog

This is a stage where it truly is critical that you know who your audience is and that you market to them specifically. A blog can be used to share information regarding the movie project while also establishing an emotional connection with supporters. Blogs can be used to report production data and give readers a peek into the daily life of a filmmaker. The filmmaker can also chronicle the many emotional ups and downs he experiences during the process of making the film.

Write a Press Release

Written press releases can be invaluable to any company or project. Among other advertising techniques like flyers, billboards, trailers and the like, press releases can help you target your intended audience. Some filmmakers even act as their own publicists and send a press release to reporters who write about movies or their particular genre of film. Just make sure that your press release catches their eye quickly, and to have a natural story that leads from the press release to your website to give readers some direction if they’re interested in learning more about your story.

Do a Giveaway

A giveaway is an excellent method for list building. An email account that is set up with an autoresponder is all that is needed. The autoresponder can be loaded to send the giveaway to participants, and the filmmaker possesses a valid email address in return. This communication line can then be used to provide the participant with updates or other offers in the future.

Final Thoughts

Aspiring filmmakers are many times much more interested in making movies than creating PR campaigns. While these feelings are understandable, it is important for the filmmaker to realize that a PR campaign is vital to ensuring that the public is made aware of their upcoming film release. The tips mentioned above provide a strong start for the indie filmmaker in need of a quality PR plan. Be sure to submit your movie for the next SLIFF Online competition before the next deadline!



A Guide to Finding The Best Shooting Location


A Guide to Finding The Best Shooting Location

For any filmmaker, finding the best shooting location (even for something like a product shoot) can be difficult and time consuming sometimes. The location and backdrop of a shot can make it truly exceptional, or rather bland and forgettable. There are a few things that any filmmaker can do to make sure that the backdrop and scene are perfect.


Maps and other guides to the area are easy to find with access to the internet. Examine a map of your area to find interesting spots such as varying landscapes, sidewalks, streets, and even specific details such as flower beds or even an incline of the ground. Make note of interesting places to check out, and plan a route to scout out each location. This will save time and gas.  

Look Around

The oldest trick in the book for any filmmaker to find great locations is to just drive and look around the area. Your search for a perfect backdrop may take you through many different locations, from the back alleys of a city to the deep wilderness.

No matter where you go, it is necessary to protect your gear and have a convenient way of carrying it around. As you go to different shoot locations, make sure that all of your gear is easy to carry and is protected—no matter where your shoot takes you. A well-made travel bag can make the difference when it comes to traveling to shoots. Climbing around and getting the lay of the land is important to look at details, but make sure all your gear is stored and shielded while looking about.

Knowing the Popular Areas

In every town or city, there are popular and famous landmarks, gardens, memorials, buildings, or other locations where local history was made. Do some research on the area you’re in to get a feel for these kinds of spots. Ask locals for some of their favorite places to go in the city. Check out the history of the area, and visit these locations to get a feel for what might work for your planned shoot.

Apps and Websites

There are multiple apps and websites that are just the ticket for finding other locations. Instagram, Flickr, ShotHotspot are just a few that can be used to show a variety of locations that other photographers and filmmakers are currently using. It might also inspire you to transform areas you hadn’t thought of into the perfect backdrop.

Technology has made it easier to find the perfect spot for any shoot. While the old fashioned way of driving around in a car can still be used as a great method for inspiration and creativity, it’s not the only way. Use these tips to save time, energy, and money by doing a little research beforehand. Combine all of these ideas to form a different approach and make your own way to find the perfect location for your next shoot.

Do you have great location shots to share? Please submit them to the St. Lawrence International Film Festival!


5 Ways to Prevent Injury at On-Location Shoots


5 Ways to Prevent Injury at On-Location Shoots

If you are doing on-location shoots for your film, then you have a lot on your mind with regards to getting the best shot. However, there are other factors of film production at play, too. You need to make sure to prevent injuries to members of your cast and crew, as hazards can pop up during a shoot that you need to be aware of. Here are five ways to prevent such injuries:

Rigging High Shots

When you are dealing with camera arms, they are contraptions with mostly metal and advanced mechanics behind them. They are built to be powerful, not friendly to humans. Keep this in mind, and don't let anyone's body parts get caught between the arm pivot.

Fall Safety

To get the proper lighting, you might need to climb up on top of a building, rock, or platform. This can involve a lot of dangerous situations. If someone takes a fall, it can mean serious injury or death. Use OSHA approved fall protection equipment that straps them in safely and offers a soft landing in the event of a fall.

Proper Footwear

Shooting in certain locations means that you might have to deal with treacherous local terrain. From mud to boulders to uneven footing in general, these obstacles can cause a number of injuries from ankle sprains to nasty falls. Make sure everyone is wearing proper shoes with ankle support at the very least, and bring a first aid injury kit just in case.

Use Camera Tricks for Heavy Objects

Sometimes, to get the perfect shot, you need to hoist a heavy object above subjects. This means that those objects are one slip away from landing on someone and permanently injuring them. To avoid this altogether, use mirrors and perspective manipulation to make it appear as though those objects are above them when in reality they are off-set a safe distance away.

Hire Safety Advisors

Simply reading through the OSHA manual before a shoot is not something that is sufficient to keep everyone from getting injured. When you hire a professional safety advisor, they can point out potentially dangerous shots that might be putting you and others at risk so you can make adjustments.

When it comes to on-location shoots, you need the right approach to ensure that no one gets hurt. If this happens, it can be a legal nightmare. After all, if you do not take the necessary precautions to protect your cast and crew, you could be held legally responsible for any damages they incur. Use the five tips above to ensure that not only is the bottom line protected, but peoples' bodies and livelihoods stay intact for a successful shoot now and after.



Health and Safety Executive


Craig Swapp & Associates


Add Graphic Design to Your Filmmaking Arsenal


Add Graphic Design to Your Filmmaking Arsenal

Much like entrepreneurs, independent filmmakers wear many different hats and develop a wide variety of skills. Oftentimes, they have to be their own producer, director, editor, even their own graphic designer.

Thanks to continued advancements in technology, filmmakers have access to a host of design tools specifically engineered to be user friendly—allowing filmmakers to turn out professional graphics without suffering a potential learning curve. Here are some scenarios where independent filmmakers might be grateful to have graphic design skills in their creative arsenal.

Titles and Credits

When major studios produce a film, they have entire teams that do nothing but produce the titles and credits. Yes, there are a number of premade titles and credits to choose from in most video editing programs, but they are often very standard looking (read: boring).

Custom titles and credits are one way you can raise the production value of your film without needing additional budget. You can even use Photoshop to create your own original fonts.

Graphic Props

Most films need a collection of signs, banners, documents, newspapers, magazines, and other graphic elements for the sake of authenticity. With quality graphics, you can create these props without spending a fortune to have a professional graphic designer make them for you.

Marketing Materials

One thing that every experienced filmmaker knows is that making a film is only half the battle—getting people to watch the film is the other half. If you invest the energy into raising a marketing budget, the last thing you want to do is blow a big chunk of it just having the marketing materials designed.

With even basic design skills, you can create your own marketing materials. That means you can actually spend your marketing budget on buying and distributing marketing materials—rather than spending it on having them created.

While some independent filmmakers have attended film school, the truth is that many filmmakers are also self-taught—often by simple trial and error. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge into learning graphic design. You may just find that it will pay off in the end.

Great examples of graphic design in film can be found amongst our esteemed filmmakers to watch. Want to join their ranks?  What are you waiting for?  Share your film with the St. Lawrence International Film Festival today!


  • What Do Graphic Designers Actually Do on Major Motion Pictures? | Layers Magazine

  • Brush Up on Your Skills With Photoshop Training | PSD Learning

  • Why Filmmakers Should Learn Graphic Design | DSLRGuide



3 Reasons to Join a Photographic Community


3 Reasons to Join a Photographic Community

Photography is a way to capture life's unforgettable moments and document your individual experience. Due to its intimate connection with personal perspective, many different people from varying walks of life come to enjoy this hobby. Photography is generally a fairly solo pursuit, but there are many potential benefits that come from joining a photography-based community.

1. Find Inspiration for Your Photography

Let's face it: No matter how talented we are (or may think we are), all of us can learn from the viewpoints and ideas of others. Since photography communities unite people from all walks of life, you are bound to interact with other photographers who will refresh your perspective and expand your growth as an artist. Associating with people who have similar interests yet contrasting viewpoints can help you find inspiration and fresh perspectives for your own photographs.

2. Network with Fellow Photographers

As with just about any pursuit, your success as a photographer will depend largely on the connections you are able to make with others. Whether those others are fellow photographers, instructors, or potential clients, there's no better way to expand the reach of your network than to join a photographic community. You might discover the perfect way to pack for a wedding shoot, find a better fitted travel camera bag for your DSLR and extra lenses, or learn how to capture the perfect candid. Doing so helps you tap into a vast pool of knowledge, expertise, and existing connections, all of which can lead you to opportunities you might have missed on your own.

3. Tap into Industry Trends

Whether it's the latest in lenses or filters, trends in the camera and film industry, or details on a cool new camera accessory everyone is talking about, a photography community is going to be your one-stop-shopping source for current information about the field. Connecting with a strong network of like-minded individuals not only can help create opportunities, but it can also help you to stay in the loop and stay up-to-date with everything you need to know about photography.

The bottom line is: Whether you are just getting started with photography as a hobby, using it to build a side hustle, or are a field-tested, experienced photographer, joining a photography-based community can truly enhance your love for the art and your enjoyment of it. Why not join a local community or club today and see its advantages for yourself?



Why Do Audiences Love Explosions?

Thanks to fire alarms, we never see fire or explosions except for the Fourth of July. High tech fire sensors have taken the fear out of fire. However, if you're in a Hollywood film (especially if it's directed by Michael Bay, of Armageddon and Pearl Harbor fame), you're likely to see more than your fair share. Is this due to a tragic shortage of fire alarms in the world of cinema? Or is it driven by the audience's desire to watch things blow up? Here's why the answer skews toward the latter.

Bearing witness to destruction provides affirmation of life

It's a well-known fact that a near-death experience -- or even the death of a loved one -- can give an individual a newfound respect for the miracle of existence. Watching imaginary wide-scale destruction from the safety of a movie theater makes people feel more alive. This is particularly true when the destruction involves structures that are widely familiar, as in Bay's The Rock (1996) and its demolition of Alcatraz.

Audiences identify with the survivors, not with the victims

In his review of 2003's The Sum of All Fears, film critic Roger Ebert wrote cynically about the film's happy ending, in which the heroes find themselves contemplating their future on a lawn blanket after Baltimore has been destroyed by a bomb. His words: "Human nature is a wonderful thing. The reason the ending is happy is because we assume that we'll be the two on the blanket, not the countless who've been vaporized." If we're around for the ending, we feel empowered simply by virtue of having "survived" when such danger exists in the world.

Special effects are just plain cool

We know, intellectually, that we're not watching the White House being transmuted into a heap of rubble in Independence Day — but at the time, was anyone less than convinced? In the century-plus since the dawn of cinema, the limits of the medium have been pushed steadily higher, so that now such amazing sleight of hand seems commonplace. It's human nature to want to push against these limits, to seek out the next highest peak. Explosions provide a pulse-pounding way to achieve this end.

Whatever our reasons, audiences just can't seem to get enough of watching things get blown to smithereens. Come next Memorial Day, there's sure to be yet another round of nuclear eye-candy to go along with the popcorn.


Film Production 101: What to Know About Contracts


Film Production 101: What to Know About Contracts

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The art of making films starts with the contracts that must be signed prior to hands-on production starting in earnest. When a Hollywood blockbuster with A-list stars is envisioned, the producers assemble legal teams to draft a collection of contracts that will cover everything from intellectual property to photo releases and from location agreements to a general understanding of liability claims. Here are some of the basic contracts used in film production projects:

Budgetary Guidelines

When a film studio agrees to host a film project, the executives will approve funding only if the production team can adhere to the budget. Some of the most infamous Hollywood productions in history went astray because the terms of the budget adherence contract were either insufficient or were not properly enforced; a classic example was the 1963 film "Cleopatra," starring Elizabeth Taylor, which went terribly over budget and was only saved from total financial disaster thanks to the tabloid and gossip industry.

Agreements to Produce Cover Shots

Production teams that do not want to risk their artistic integrity to the whims of film distributors should pay close attention to the contract terms dealing with cover shots, which are used to create different versions of films for hotel chains, airlines, foreign markets, festivals, and other venues.

Screenplay Agreements

Established screenwriters may demand that their intellectual property be produced to the very letter of the script. Film studios often demand more flexibility, which leads to negotiation of terms whereby the screenplay authors may agree to receive monetary compensation or promotion in exchange for allowing some leeway in adapting the script. If the studio has faith in the artistic vision of contracted filmmakers, executives may feel comfortable in spending additional funds to secure the rights to significantly alter the screenplay.

Footage Release

These contracts are usually drafted during the post-production and marketing stages. In essence, footage release agreements refer to scenes that have already been shot and edited; in some cases, they may include footage that is created specifically to use for promotional purposes. When a production is screened at film festivals, footage release agreements are mandatory since the festival organizers often wish to show as much footage as possible in order to create excitement prior to the scheduled screenings.


Working closely with entertainment and contract attorneys becomes essential for production teams. The agreements listed are just a few of many legal documents that aspiring producers can expect to become very familiar with during their careers.


How to Get a Permit For Urban Action Shoots


How to Get a Permit For Urban Action Shoots

If you want to film or photograph on location, you may need to obtain a filming permit, sometimes referred to as a location shooting permit. Every city and state has an office that handles the granting of filming permits. The process can sometimes be completed online and generally requires paying a fee. 

When Must You Obtain a Permit?

Casual filming or photography does not generally require obtaining a permit. Similarly, shooting on private property does not require a permit. However, filming on public property or in such a way that it would impact other people does necessitate applying for and receiving a filming permit. 

Permit Requirements for Car Chase Scenes in Urban Areas

If you plan on filming a car chase, you may be required to fulfill additional permit application requirements. For example, filming a car chase scene within the city of Los Angeles may require you to conduct a filming survey. This survey should indicate that you contacted the residents and businesses that may be affected by your filming and discussed any concerns they have. Similarly, Los Angeles requires proof of production insurance, including auto insurance. 

If you plan to shoot any part of the car chase using an aircraft or drone, you may have to submit additional documentation. The City of Baltimore, for example, requires proof that the drone operator has a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA as well as an insurance plan that specifies coverage for an unmanned aircraft system. 

Filming this kind of scene will most likely require road closures and traffic control. Since most chase scenes involve blowing through stop signs and other such violations of normal traffic codes, additional permits may be required for closed-course driving. Dave Abels lists stop sign and stop light violations as one of the most common causes of collisions, so DO NOT try to film without working with police! Requests to film during peak travel times are almost always denied. Similarly, filming a scene using moving vehicles may necessitate a sit-down meeting with the local film office and the police department. These factors may increase the time to process your permit as well as increase any fees associated with the application. 


Permit Requirements for Pyrotechnics

Most municipalities treat pyrotechnics similar to fireworks, so learning about local fireworks laws will be a good start. Licensing requirements for pyrotechnic operators will differ from city to city and from state to state. Most applications for filming permits will ask about what kinds of physical effects you plan on using, and will contain additional information on how to obtain any necessary permissions.

Another time to be careful is when you are using realistic firearms as props. If concerned neighbors see cast members walking around on set with AR15’s, Glock 19’s, and M16’s slung over their shoulders, they are liable to call the police. This is another reason why it’s important to make the municipal government and local police force aware of your intention to film in that locality. You can reduce the risk of scaring neighbors (and reduce risks to your stunt crew) by adding sound effects and muzzle flashes in post, rather than using blanks. While blanks are more realistic and generally safe, nobody wants a repeat of Brandon Lee’s tragic accident on the set of The Crow!

These permit requirements may seem tedious, but they are in place to ensure not only the safety of the community but also the success of your shoot. Without police assistance, for example, your car chase scene would be plagued by unwanted traffic and pedestrians. The best way to ensure your application is accepted is to follow all permit application requirements and provide accurate, descriptive information about your needs. Finally, the more complicated your request, the longer it will take to be approved. Plan ahead and be patient!


How to Fund an Independent Film Without Going Bankrupt


How to Fund an Independent Film Without Going Bankrupt


Advancements in technology have spurred incredible growth in the independent film industry,  and more and more filmmakers are managing to make profitable films regardless of the margins. However, without careful planning and dedication, filmmakers can put themselves at risk. Blindly starting production without a solid plan can cost you a lot of money and plunge you into bankruptcy. So, what should you consider before diving in? 

How to Avoid Going into Debt

Some filmmakers procure financing for their projects through talent agency financing, independent distributor financing, end-user financing, borrowing completion funds, or setting up studio development production deals. Most of these involve a cut of project’s proceeds, and any slip up will culminate in debts. Putting into consideration the ideas below will minimize this risk.

Debunk the "Overnight Success" Myth

Most aspiring independent filmmakers fantasize about making a hit on their first attempt. There's nothing wrong with having such thoughts, but it should not be your primary motivation. Taking this path can encourage overspending and could ultimately lead to going deep into debt. If you look at all the successful startups today, their backstories always include their early struggles despite having an aura of overnight success. Devise a strategy and plan for failure if you have to. Success takes time.

Make Awesome Films

For this to happen, in-depth research and patience are key. Read widely, watch other successful independent films, talk to professionals, and become an expert on what you want to do. Do not rush things as it will require months or even more than a year for you to find that Eureka moment. Knowing your subject backward and forward actually reduces the chances of going into unnecessary debt.


Strategize for Distribution

Once you settle on a particular project to undertake, decide on the appropriate distribution platform such as the Internet, television, DVD, or cable. This will factor into your final budget significantly. Next, make that distribution plan part of your pitch. Investors need to understand what they get out of investing in you and how you intend to make that happen. How you get your 'product' to 'market' is as essential to the success of your film as its script.

These are just starting points intended to get you thinking about your project with some level of business sense. For in depth (and excellent) resources to take this next step seriously, we recommend "The Insider's Guide to Film Finance" by Philip Alberstat and "The Art of Film Funding" by Carole Lee Dean








We Need to Talk About These Untapped Mediums for Independent Film

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As an independent filmmaker, finding the right equipment for shooting your film can be costly on a small budget. Today, however, it's never been easier - and more friendly to your wallet - to access professional-level production tools to make your masterpiece a reality.

Use Wireless Cameras

See who is knocking before you open the door with wireless video cameras, or use them to record your next film. Wireless cameras can have superb HD video and audio capabilities, and some have pan, tilt, and zoom features, which enable you to record high-resolution images from various angles. Simply place your wireless video cameras in the indoor or outdoor locations of your choice and begin filming. When you are done, convert the analog signal to digital format using a video capture card, then save the recording to your PC, and you are ready to edit your film.

Use Your Cell Phone

There have been many advancements to cell phone video cameras, including larger screens, powerful optical and digital zoom, optical image stabilization, and more, which can be used to record excellent video. In fact, many independent filmmakers use their cell phone as a common method for recording their films. Just remember, select a cell phone camera with at least 12 megapixels and high dynamic range (HDR) for best results.

Use Your Webcam

Your webcam can also be used to record your next film. Simply download a quality video capture program, such as Debut Video Capture, and be sure to configure your audio settings to record sound with your video. From this point, you can select from different recording formats and encoder settings, including MPEG2 for burning your video to DVD.

You could also use your Windows Movie Maker, or Quick Time for Mac users, to record your video. Simply, plug your external camera into the USB port, then point the camera towards you and as near to you as possible for maximum sound quality. Open your movie maker and begin recording.


You don't need a big budget to make your film next level. There’s a variety of creative ways to create your film on even the tightest budget — you just have to remain open minded. Check out these trailers from August's official selections for more inspiration.



Filtering: Harmless or the End of Film?


Filtering: Harmless or the End of Film?

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In 2005, to more clearly define the rights of parents to use filtering technology on limited portions of audiovisual content such as motion pictures in a private household, an exemption was placed in the law. The filtering, or as the law puts it, “making imperceptible”, must be done at the direction of a member of the private household. Intellectual property comes into play as the law stipulates that the content must be from an authorized copy. The law is called the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, or more simply, the Family Movie Act (FMA). The exemption is in Section 202 of that law.

The concept is an admirable one, filtering out the naughty and violent stuff. This gives parents a useful tool to bridge the gaping divide between what the film industry offers and what is considered appropriate content for the home. It's all in the implementation though and that's where we're hitting some pesky snags.

Intellectual Property

The concept of intellectual property goes back to the 17th century in England when patents (and later trademarks and copyrights) were codified to give temporary legal monopolies on created works to their creators. This was largely driven by an economic fear that the printing press had made the value of copies so negligible that there was insufficient economic incentive for writers to write. These practices remain central to strong property laws in Western countries today for largely the same reason, and it is likely that strong intellectual property protections contribute to economic growth. And this is why copyright protections are becoming stronger and fiercer in the United States.

It has been argued, on the other hand, that these protections have outgrown the scope of their usefulness. Lawrence Lessig, for example, says that while bootlegging should be illegal, “remix” (where a work is substantially altered to produce something entirely new) should fall under those protections – since no idea occurs in a vacuum. And while some provisions have been made to the law to allow for protections of substantially-altered work, filtering does not fall into this category. This is why the FMA was brought into being. But just how far does the scope of FMA protection reach?


Why All The Hubbub?

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Even some of the best blockbuster movies and made for television content has material and scenes many parents find offensive and objectionable. Quite simply, parents want to control what is watched privately at home. Nothing wrong with that. Right? Well, not so fast, it seems that there's a service called VidAngel conducting an end run around the intellectual property issue to provide parents the option of filtering out the questionable content. VidAngel offers the content and a menu to choose from many filters to tailor the content to parents’ satisfaction. The big Hollywood studios are not happy with this and have filed suit calling what is occurring essentially the operation of an unlicensed video-on-demand streaming service.


The film industry failed to stop the Family Movie Act in Congress, so it's on to the courts and the fight is an aggressive one. It's interesting to note though that in a way, the film industry may actually be fighting a large segment of the very audience that buys its product.


VidAngel vs the Law:

As you review the FMA law, the VidAngel service runs afoul in a couple places like authorized copy and the filtering must be done by a member of the private household. VidAngel's service provides the content and options to filter. Sounds to us like you also have the option NOT to filter which creates a problem with the whole concept of having an authorized copy of what is considered intellectual property. VidAngel calls it 'associated media' as part of its end run around copyright laws. It’s possible the judge may have an issue with VidAngel's defense.


This ought to be an interesting fight. On the one hand, you have what some consider a valued service for those who want to enjoy a clean movie experience. On the other, is what the film industry considers illegal ripping of their intellectual content and streaming it without a license. Fight's on!



5 Common Injuries to Avoid on Set


5 Common Injuries to Avoid on Set

While filmmaking is an exciting experience, it is important to be mindful of safety procedures, lest someone suffer an injury that could injure people and the film's budget. With this in mind, let’s highlight five common health hazards to avoid while filming.


Lost Balance

The floor of any set or shooting location can be littered with a variety of potential hazards, leading to slips and falls. Most of the time you can escape a fall with bumps and bruises, but common freak accidents can cause concussion, broken bones, and in the worst-case scenario, an injured spinal cord.


Someone should always be present to stabilize a ladder and ensure that the person climbing the ladder is safe from falling. If working around slick surfaces, such as a port or a soundstage designed to mimic a ship's deck, make sure that all cast and crew have suitable footwear and off-camera signage has been placed to indicate potential for a slip and fall.


Head Injuries

With the frequent instances where crew or equipment are elevated above people's heads, everyone should be mindful of them. This advice not only extends to cameramen positioned atop ladders for certain shots, but also being mindful of the potential injury from walking into a c stand or a gobo arm.


Heat Illness

When working long hours under the heat of direct sunlight or close to set lights, it is imperative that all cast and crew remain hydrated, ideally with drinks reputed to restore electrolytes. Conditions like heat exhaustion can sneak up on people, usually leaving that person as the last one to realize they have succumbed to the condition. Even the case of one crew member's fainting spell from overheating carries the risk of dropping valuable equipment or injuring others on set.



Some equipment can become incredibly hot, resulting in serious burns to the crew handling it. Requiring heat-treated gloves to be worn will prevent burns while also minimizing the chance of pinching injuries.



Because a person's hunger can affect their mood, including your actors' performances, it is important to keep cast and crew fed during long shoots.


What Can I Do About It?

Filmmaking is hard enough without shuttling cast and crew with debilitating injuries, or threatening the production with a lawsuit. Assign a member of the crew as the safety officer supervisor, and give them sufficient authority to pull the plug on dangerous stunts or mitigate hazardous conditions. If budget allows for it, have an on-set medic to monitor the condition of cast and crew, and tend to first aid if it becomes necessary. Producers and directors are under intense pressure to get scenes shot on schedule, and under budget - but that’s exactly why safety needs to be your first concern.



While it is important for a filmmaker to maintain his or her vision, it is also important that cast and crew can safely collaborate on that goal. Keep your cast and crew properly fed and hydrated, be mindful of hot objects or slick surfaces and make sure that everyone's spatial awareness includes the space above their heads. Following these tips should do wonders for a safe and effective shooting schedule.









5 Amazing Ways Social Media is Affecting Photography and Film


5 Amazing Ways Social Media is Affecting Photography and Film

Social media is one of today's world digital wonders, capturing billions of users and still growing. In 2017, there are an estimated 2.8 billion social media users that log on at least monthly.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest either solely or largely rely on pictures and videos for browsing and interacting with others. Instagram facilitated the slang term Instagram model for attractive people, usually females, who seductively capture their good looks and sex appeal in photos and videos to build generally-insurmountable piles of followers, likes, and comments. Companies use this same strategy to showcase their portfolios. Social media is unarguably changing photography and film. Here are 5 truly outstanding manners in which social media has and is currently modifying traditional photography and filmmaking.


Marked Drop in Prevalence of Photo Booths

Back in the days of shopping malls, most of them featured photo booths where friends and family members could take pictures with one another for money, then automatically print several prints out at the kiosk. In place of the standard photograph vending machine from the 1980’s, private photographers and open-air photo booths have largely taken over.


Advertising is Different

Social media photographs often incorporate funny imagery, inappropriate happenings, and other content that has the chance to go viral. Traditional pictures do not incorporate as many viral-capable types of content as today's pictures.


Apps Utilize Short, Brief Content

Snapchat has partnered with a number of media outlets to craft app-specific content characterized by short, minute-long or even shorter clips. Users click through series of short videos rather than traditional forms of watching video: for minutes at a time. Many content creators are opting for short-form content, interactive content, or 360 vids, rather than traditionally-filmed, longer-than-today's brief videos.

Social media has shortened many already-short videos due platform creators' acknowledgment of the average person's attention span. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds, dropping down to merely 8 seconds in 2015.


Professional Cameras are Becoming Less Popular

As smartphones continue to be released with cameras of increasing capability and resolution year after year, bulky, traditional cameras are are going the way of the dinosaur. There's really no need for large cameras when most smartphones can provide a similar or identical quality.


Photography Can be Easily Used to Meet and Connect with People

Instagram relies primarily on photos as its choice of digital substance. People take and share pictures with short captions to impress and connect with others. Rather than text-based posts making up the majority of posts, pictures and videos make up nearly the entirety of social media posts.

The advent and proliferation of social media has undoubtedly changed photography and film. Pictures are getting easier to take, media can be used to interact with others, and professional photographers are moving closer to relying on smartphones to capture content. What's next with social media and cinematography? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!

Photo Credit: startbloggingonline.com



7 Ways To Market Your Production Company


7 Ways To Market Your Production Company

A production company is an invaluable source of inspiration for the people who enjoy its entertainment. Whether you produce quality radio, television, or Internet entertainment, you're doing the world an enormous favor by creating original content that they can enjoy. Many new production companies are frustrated by the lack of recognition for their efforts and wonder how they can go about successfully marketing their productions. There's no one easy answer for this dilemma. In the beginning, things are hard for most production companies. What they need is attention and recognition for their efforts. These 7 marketing techniques may help you market more effectively online.


1. SEO for your production company website


Search engine optimization is vital for production company websites. No matter matter how high the quality of your content, you're never going to succeed until someone discovers it. Search engine optimization is perhaps the best way to market your website in the very beginning. Production companies especially are rich in content and you want people to be able to find it. SEO is such a broad term that it can encompass just about anything you do on a website, but for this purpose, be sure you build it into the design of the production website. Make your content easily discovered by both people and the search engines they trust. If you don’t have an internal SEO team, consider hiring an SEO consultant to work closely with your web design and marketing team.


2. Blog about your productions

A good production company website should have an active blog. This means that the content pops alive regularly, not just weekly. Remember, your blog isn’t just an outlet for internal press releases - it should provide content that is valuable to your potential consumer base. Pro tips, how-to’s, insider information, and industry rants can provide great material to stock your blog with great material. Never let a day go by in the beginning without a great blog post about your productions. Regularly blogging about your content makes it easier for search engines to pick up keywords and index you higher in their results. It also makes it more likely that a visitor will stumble upon your content and share it on a social media website. Speaking of social media...


3. Use social media to link to your content

The major social media platforms are wonderful places to share your vision with your audience. They give you an ongoing conversation with the very people who are interested in what your production company is creating. Someone sharing even a single piece of content from your social media website can generate thousands, or in best case scenarios, millions of people flocking to your content. This makes it very important to set up good, quality social media accounts that link back to your production company content.

 Photo Credit:  howtostartablogonline

Photo Credit: howtostartablogonline


In the beginning, it may be only a few loyal visitors sharing your content. Once word of mouth spreads, you bring in legions of loyal followers. Constantly update social media accounts to encourage sharing of your production company's content. In the meantime, you can boost your social media following by submitting your film to festivals via services such as FilmFreeway, the exclusive film submission site used by SLIFF Online. Festival’s provide a great deal of marketing for individual projects as part of their business models. After all, their product is your content.


4. Networking is still important

Face to face contacts are still important in today's world, and you can definitely participate in or put on plenty of events with your production company that will land you real world contacts, for the purpose of this article, networking means making contact with popular online websites that might be very interested in your content. If you've got a production company that is creating funny, interesting, or educational material, then there are a lot of booming websites out there that would love to showcase that creativity. There are many ways you can go about this, from simply emailing site owners to let them know your production company exists and has important content, to doing guest posts about your productions on sites that invite this.


Thanks to the quick advances made in live chat technology, online seminars and live video chats allow people from around the world to network from the comforts of home. If your production company takes advantage of these tools and you and your peers attend these events, you can make valuable friends in the media production world that will propel your business further.


5. Keep your eye on creativity

All the marketing techniques in the world aren't going to do you any good unless the material you produce is engaging. While marketing is important to any production company, don't forget to allocate funds toward your actual product: the productions you create. There are far too many free or near free marketing options to take advantage of to let the quality of your production company suffer due to a bloated marketing budget.


In other words, talk a big game in marketing but also make sure that your creative work lives up to the hype. Believe in the work you do. Put funding behind it. Give it room to grow on its word of mouth reputation, too, and keep a smart marketing budget that is equal to the quality of the work your production company releases to the public.


6. Press releases can help early on

Early on, people might not know much about the work you're doing. Word of mouth on the Internet only works when the entity is already established. Before SEO takes hold, and your marketing has a chance to work, there might be a slew of potential fans who don't even know your production company exists. A good lineup of press releases can take care of this. In some cases you'll pay for these releases, in others you can simply write them yourself and post them.


While in some worlds, there's no such thing as bad press, for production companies the rules are a bit different. Make sure that you post press releases to reputable distribution sources online, like PR.com or Presswire. Being associated with disreputable news sources can be even worse than being unknown in the beginning. Be smart about where you put the name of your production company.


7. Find your voice and use it often

Every company needs a vision, a voice that is theirs and theirs alone. No matter what your specific focus, make sure that there's one special thing someone could remember your company for. Sometimes this "one thing" will develop over time. In the traditional marketing world they call it a USP or a Unique Selling Proposition. Sometimes it will be there from the beginning. It might be the seriousness of your work, or the hilarity, or the fact that your team is always friendly when they get feedback. Try to find that voice within your production company, something so memorable that when your fans hear it, they'll know without seeing the name on it that it belongs to you.


Continue to Produce

A production company is there to produce something that is memorable for film festivals, buyers/distributors and, of course, the viewing public. Your marketing techniques can be tweaked over time and you can learn from what does and doesn't generate a big response. From the beginning of your company's life until the end, though, your inspiration should be to produce something that will stand the test of time. The content you introduce to the world should be original, meaningful, and above all memorable. If it is, all of these marketing strategies are only going to bring you more success. Great creativity from a production company will inevitably draw solid attention over time. All it takes is a little patience on the part of you, your team, and audience that wants to love what you produce.