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Shooting Documentary Short Films

Lesson 14 of 16

Debunking Legal Myths

Griffin Hammond

Shooting Documentary Short Films

Griffin Hammond

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Lesson Info

14. Debunking Legal Myths

Lesson Info

Debunking Legal Myths

Licensing is a good seg way into into legal stuff because I'm gonna talk about some of the legal issues and like you know, this is all about creative work and um then using other people's creative work and I don't know how it is in other countries but I know that in the us we have copyright law that protects our creative work and that's great because you make a film it's yours um and like I said earlier I'm not a lawyer but what I have learned is that the law is not black and white uh I hear this this myth a lot tell me if you've heard this even raise your hand if you've heard this before you are allowed to use seven seconds of any film just that's okay right yeah people say things like that because I mean people do things like that they use seven seconds something that's not necessarily okay there's no law that says you're allowed to use exact amount in fact the law is very not specific on the on this so I just want as a disclaimer be careful when you use anyone else's creative work b...

ecause you may or may not be allowed to do that the best way you can go about it is ask them and get permission and we'll look at some releases in a minute where you khun get permission from people but there is a protection in our american society where it's important to comment on politicians and all of this where we do have some fair use, we do have the right to steal someone else's work if it's in the public interest and that's what fair uses and was codified into law in nineteen seventy six and it actually sounds kind of outdated even said something about, like reproduction of phone records, but when it boils down to is the fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news, reporting and teaching is not an infringement of copyright, so if you're teaching, you might get away with it. Maybe today because I'm teaching you something I could have shown all sorts of stuff if I didn't, because maybe I wouldn't be protected I don't know it's, not black and white, not clear, and I don't want to put creative live at risk by showing a bunch of creative work that I don't have the rights to show. Uh, these are these are considerations about if something would be okay to use or not. One of it is the purpose and character of the use s, so it helps if you're a teacher and not so you know, creative lives, weird cause we're teaching, but we're also making some money here, so maybe the purpose and character of the use wouldn't be okay because we're because it sze commercial the nature of the copyrighted work is kind of about how important is this thing look if it's the jfk assassination tape was that the separator films there is called he probably could get away with using it because it's really important to our history we need to talk about it if something happens that's when really newsworthy that nature of that work might influence the fact that you can use it or not I don't know if I could make that argument of the nature of that play fong ship footage is important enough that I could just steal it I don't know if I can the amount of it this is where that seven seconds thing comes in minutes a definitely a myth but the idea that if you use a little bit of something maybe you're okay but seven seconds is is wrong because if a film is twelve seconds long can you seven seconds so you're from the whole thing pretty much so it's about the amount of something that you're using and finally the effect of the potential market this is a big one I think I think this is kind of good litmus test is would someone watch my thing instead of the source material like if you make a music video for carly rae jepson and you put it on your own youtube channel you monetize that you're making money off adds just because you made a video like someone could just watch your video instead of listening to her song and that's a huge impact on her potential market for that song so that's a big consideration um but the problem is you could consider all of these things and a judge might consider something differently so just know that like you probably should hit alot of these items on the positive side that doesn't mean you're going to win the court case this is a legal defense and again I'm not a lawyer, so don't listen to anything I'm saying but you just gotta be careful about how you use other people's stuff and this also plays into parody I think a lot of people, especially on youtube think that they can I think there's a misconception about what parody is that like if I take a song and I write new lyrics to it and I sing that song that's okay new lyrics it's a parody I mean a funny video that went with it but chances are your parody is parodying something else if you wrote a song about how fun creative live is or you're making fun of creative live but you said it tio carly rae jepsen so I don't want technically reject, so I've been listening to it recently um that's not okay if I was if I was criticizing carly rae jepsen, maybe I am ok it's all about criticism, comment and reporting if I want to play you a clip of a song and say, this is the best part of that song and here's why? Because it does this melodic thing that, like, taps in your brain, I could probably do that. I could get away with playing a little bit of a song and making my point, but I can't just change the lyrics to something and say like, this is funny unless I'm actually making comments about that composition. But the composition that musical composition itself outside of the lyrics is a creative work, whether it's photos or sheet music or video or just someone's voice. These are all things that are owned by someone else, and anytime use that creative work, you should probably get permission and that's the question we had earlier about, like, do you need to get permission for this kind of stuff? So I often do a creative work release form if I no, I'm gonna use someone else's work and again, I am not a lawyer, and you probably don't want to use my form because I have no idea if it works. I've never had to go to court or anything, all I know is that having a record of the fact that you're allowed to shoot someone's face or that you are allowed to use their work even if it's just an email, the fact that you sent an email to someone said, hey, can I use this and they emailed me back and said yeah that's fine that's pretty good that's a lot better than nothing right? I don't know if my document is airtight this is the document I use might not be a lawyer could probably write a much longer one that's a lot safer for me but all I know is it's probably good if I get some permission written down so I have ah work release form I have ah of a talent released someone's gonna be in a film I did this for the documentary just people saying I sign this you're allowed to use my face and with music I wrote up a lot of the stuff I I I went to legal zoom and I went to some stuff not that good. I just did some googling I pretty much just like frankenstein a bunch of documents I kind of like read other people's documents went like okay, I think I get the gist here let me write that premise because it seems like that's what you need so I wrote up a combined synchronization of master yu's license this music it's confusing because like I said the composition is its own creative work outside of the recording so you can't just play someone else's song and like well that got around the copyright because I'm playing it that's fine you got out of the master recording copyright someone recorded it you're not stealing that copyright but you are stealing the copyright of the person who wrote the song in the first place that's what synchronization is so it's just important understand that with music there's two different things ah and I made sure with all the music I put in sarasota that I asked permission and I got that permission likewise if you you know if you don't want to deal with this there are ways to use me sick for free I mean there's public domain music although people always think there's more public domain music than there is uh there's often public domain compositions but good luck finding a public domain recording someone had to play the music and record it probably happened ten years ago this property out in public domain like some amazing orchestra probably played it s so they're actually even that much public domain there is creative commons music if you find a creative commons attribution license that's music that you are allowed to use as long as you give him credit I use a lot of that on recently I've been using a lot more music libraries his jingle punks audio network just a find music that I'm paying for access to that at work we're paying for access to that, but in the end we are using work that we're allowed to use that's all, uh, that I want to make sure you get across so I talked about the expenses of suraj I talk about where I made money one thing I didn't talk about his the true return on investment for a film I mean, like I said, that profit is cool but it's not gonna pay for me to make a documentary every year like I can't do this every year. The real return on investment for this stuff is the fact that I built an audience now it's excited about stuff like I wouldn't be here right now doing a creative live class if I hadn't made that documentary so there's opportunities that come along because of it I mean, that film now is my riel and that gets me work it got me this latest job, and I wasn't even expecting that I uh serrata the factory was there was some lawsuit about the factory and the governor stepped in and decided to kill the lawsuit, and for a week I was getting these calls from reporters because now I'm the surat guy and so I was getting called for comments like tell us what you think about this and I got an email from uh, someone at businessweek magazine and editor over there, uh, asking if they could talk to me about suraj and I said, yeah, of course. And so I get this call from not an editor, but the editor I didn't realise in print news editor means like ceo. And this was josh to wrangle the head of business week, called me and was like, hey, I really like jack mary, would you like a job doing that for us? Equity, wait, aren't you reporter s o I came out to new york, and I mean, it was, and I like the job that I have, and they gave me the job. It was all because I made a documentary. I didn't. I wasn't looking for that opportunity, but it came along.

Class Description

Today’s media landscape is largely made up of regular folks who know how to spot a good story and use basic gear to document the world around them. Find out how you can join their ranks and make compelling, marketable shorts in Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 

Griffin made a name for himself with the ode to an iconic hot sauce, Sriracha. In this class, he’ll teach you how to identify, shoot, and share documentary-style video. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize and tell a good story
  • Capture high-caliber footage with low-budget gear 
  • Incorporate all the essentials for online and TV news
  • Produce corporate work clients love
  • Find your audience and monetize your work

Griffin will share tips on lighting, framing, and interviewing subjects so you walk away with lots of usable footage. You’ll watch as Griffin shares clips from a one-day shoot and you’ll learn exactly what it takes to turnaround a complete documentary-style short on a deadline.

You’ll also learn a handful of helpful editing techniques and get insights on the ethical and legal responsibilities of documentary filmmaking.

If you want to learn how to tell meaningful stories that look great and sell, while working on a shoestring budget, don’t miss Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 


Bruce Gruenbaum

First off, if you have not watched Sriracha, go and do that. The techniques that Griffin used in it are pretty incredible. This course expands on those techniques and what really surprised me about this course is how simple the setup is that he uses to make some absolutely amazing documentaries. The quality of what you can produce with the most basic of equipment is really mind-boggling. Some of the most interesting stuff was about B-Roll and how to use it to create a visually interesting presentation. The idea of a lot of small clips that show specific information is invaluable. The techniques he uses to create shots like the one where the camera was placed on top of a cart and pushed down an aisle was amazing. More than anything else, the ideas and tips I came away with have helped me find ways of making my own videos much more interesting.

a Creativelive Student

Griffin is a great storyteller and I was hoping to learn a LOT from this class. But I didn't. I'm an experienced corporate video editor/shooter who's always dreamed of doing a documentary. About half of the class is the very basics of video production (b-roll, rule of thirds, good audio) and the other half is interesting content that seems to cut off just as it becomes engaging. I'm not sure why Creative Live edited it that way other than to extend the number of segments? Although the next segment doesn't seem to pick up where the previous left off. I've never felt that way before about CL, but it seems like every segment is cut right as it gets to things I'm interested in. It did have some great information about revenue streams for a short form documentary, but I was left wanting to learn more. If you're just starting out... this is a great resource to learn the basics of non-fiction filming. If you already work professionally in the field I would pass.

Tim Greig

This is brilliant. Griffin is such a generous, self-deprecating filmmaker you just can't help but love him. He goes into great detail on just how he makes his documentaries and other work and is so inspiring, mostly because he is a one-man band and produces such interesting and wonderful videos. Thank you Griffin and CreativeLive for offering this.