If you plan to shoot on private property, you absolutely MUST talk to the property owner and include these key points in a signed release agreement.

A Location Release is a document that allows for filming or recording on the property of another.  If you plan to shoot at a private location, you must have permission in writing from the property owner.  Even if you are shooting at your grandmother’s church and they said you can use it for free…get it in writing!

Here are the top 7 points to include your location release agreement:

  1.  Permission to record: This seems obvious, but it’s the most important piece to the agreement.  The agreement should set forth the location; date(s); and times when you will be recording. You may want to also include a provision that will allow you to return to the property for additional recording, just in case you need to get more footage.
  2. Compensation:  If there is a fee, you want to include the amount of the fee and when it must be paid.  If you are getting to use the location for free, with a promise of publicity or promotion, include that as well. 
  3. Right to use the recording:  You need to specify how and why you will use the recordings.  You should include the name of the film/project, but don’t stop there.  You want to be as broad as possible so that if things change, you can use it however you’d like to.  You also want to include that using the recording is solely at your discretion as the producer, you get to decide what footage will go in the final cut. You are not obligated to use the footage, make sure the agreements states so.
  4. Ownership of property:  Be sure to get the agreement signed by the actual owner of the property.  There should be a statement confirming that the person signing the agreement has the authority and power to grant rights to use the property.  The bartender of the club may not necessarily be the owner of the club, so make sure you are dealing with the owner.
  5. Ownership of the recordings:  You want to make it clear that only you own the recordings, not the property owner.
  6. Logos & Trademarks:  If there are visible signs, logos or trademarks, make sure you include a statement giving you permission to record them and use them.
  7. Assignment rightsYou should include the right to license, assign, and otherwise transfer your rights under the agreement. Just in case you decide to sell 

If the location is open to the public and there are people on location during your shoot, you will need to get each person to sign a release authorizing you to use their image and/or likeness 

Sometimes it’s just not practical to get a signed release from every single person who enters that area, so a crowd release notice works better.  For more on crowd release notices, read this post.

Keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” formula when it comes to a location release, so make sure you review any documents with your entertainment attorney.