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Legal Issues in Documentary Master Classes / Archival Storytelling Master Class

The Yard: Herald Square, 106 W 32nd Street, New York NY 10001


9:30am-10:00am    Checkin Opens

10:00am-1:00pm    Legal Issues in Documentary- Neil Rosini, Steven Beer, and Jake Levy

1:00pm-2:00pm     Lunch Provided (for all-day registrants only)

2:00pm-5:00pm    Archival Storytelling - Sierra Pettengill

Legal Issues in Documentary

Join IDA in New York for this special Master Class with the co-authors of the LEGAL FAQ column in IDA’s Documentary magazine, who are partners at the entertainment law firm of Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo in New York.  Drawing on decades of experience representing writers, directors and producers of feature films, documentaries, and non-fiction series, Neil Rosini and Jake Levy, moderated by Steven Beer, will offer a 3-hour crash course on the legal basics that every maker of non-fiction productions should know.

Topics Covered

  • Copyright/Fair Use:  Fair use is a marvel: when it applies, it avoids the hassle and expense of permissions and payments.  The key question then is when does it apply?  We’ll focus on the answer with examples.   
  • Defamation:  Non-fiction filmmaking often packs information that can harm reputations and invite legal disputes.  How can best practices avoid legal liability even if a defamatory statement is proven false?
  • Privacy and Publicity Rights:  Although video journalism is impossible without telling the stories of real people and events, getting permission isn’t always feasible.  When are appearance releases necessary and why?  Where is the line drawn between what’s newsworthy and unjustifiable invasion of privacy?
  • Day to Day Production Tips:  During production, producers encounter issues that seem like roadblocks.  What promises may they make to gain access to locations?  Can they grant review or approval rights to participants?  What about hidden microphones and cameras?  How can common issues be handled without causing complications with distribution?  

Archival Storytelling

This workshop, led by filmmaker and archival researcher Sierra Pettengill, will provide practical advice and creative inspiration for nonfiction filmmakers interested in the potential of archival and “found” materials. Where do you find this stuff, and what should/can you do with it once found? What does archival material do (and not do) in the context of your nonfiction film? How do you not get lost in the archive? Should you hire an an archival researcher, and if so, how can you work with them effectively? We will discuss broad theories and specific editing strategies for the creative re-purposing of pre-existing material, from compilation films to avant-garde collages to historical documentaries.