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Shooting a Highway Sign

International Distribution
What is "international distribution with financials"? I'm unfamiliar with these terms and I'm try to do some research into distribution deals. I would appreciate an answer you can give me.

Preselling Distribution
I was thinking of including it [Australian Distribution rights] as part of the compensation package to a potential DP, who is too expensive for me to hire at full rate but (since he is Australian) he might see the Australian rights as something of real value. My concern is that I don't know how the foreign sales world works and, if I end up with a good but marginal product, will I have shot myself in the foot by having given away a valuable English-speaking market and make my film an unwanted commodity. (I realize that if I manage to produce Pulp Fiction it won't matter -- and if my movie is awful it won't matter -- but I'm betting on a more mixed outcome).

Handshake Legally Binding
I'm getting ready to edit an independent feature and I have just found an editor that is willing to do the work for next to nothing. The problem is that I'm getting some interest from some independent distributors and I'm not so sure I want to go with this editor anymore. If I shook hands on the deal am I obligated to honor it?

Top Sheet Budget
Do you know the difference between a top sheet budget and a full budget?

Product Fee
Could you give me an idea of what to charge sponsors for product placement? How is the cost determined? Should filmmakers guage it by how many seconds the product is in view; how close the shot is; whether the lead character uses the product throughout the film, ie. brand-name clothing, and cheaper rates for minor characters being connected to product?

Is there some sort of advertising industry standard or guideline for product placement in films, or is it all negotiated between the producer and each individual sponsor? Thank you.

Contributed by Glen Berry

I want to film a highway sign that says "You are now entering Bellingham" or one that tells how many miles more until reaching upcoming cities. Do I need to get a release form signed and who do I get it from?

First of all, I am not an attorney and cannot give you legal advice.

That being said, I can tell you how I approach all of these intellectual property issues. I ask myself the question, what is your risk of being sued? Sure, you want to consult with an attorney about these things but if you ask an attorney if you should do something or not, they will always tell you "no". There's less risk in not doing something than doing something, right? Sure, but you never get anything done.

So they highway sign is property of the government. The only government property you aren't allowed to shoot is that which is restricted as classified, usually military. You normally would have to jump a fence or sneak into a building to get access so you don't have to worry about it in this instance.

You also have to ask yourself: How Michael Moore gets away with shooting the logos of the corporations he is bashing? Well, you can shoot anything you want that is visible from a public place. You can get in trouble if you accompany it with narration making false statements of fact. But just shooting it, no. You aren't supposed to get in trouble, anyway.

Which leads us to our last bit: anyone can sue you for anything. Yes, they can - even if they don't have a legal recourse. There are some statutes in place to punish frivolous lawsuits but anyone can file a suit against anyone. There are a number of steps along the way before they can win a judgment against you. So they can file the suit but if it doesn't have merit, it will get slapped down by a judge. You just need to make sure it doesn't have merit.

If you use some common sense, consult with an attorney and follow some basic rules you can make you movies without fear of retribution, no matter how much people like or dislike your work.

Berry started his career as an editor and post production supervisor, having worked on documentaries for PBS and The Discovery Channel. Berry’s award-winning short fiction, documentary and experimental films have screened at festivals around the world. His first feature film secured a rare worldwide distribution deal and received a limited theatrical release.

The publisher of Film Underground and founder of Northwest Film School, Berry has taught production at Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College. Berry was awarded a Master of Arts in Production and Direction from the National University of Ireland and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Theatre Arts from Montana State University.

Berry’s academic work has been published in scholarly journals as well as trade publications such as MovieMaker Magazine, CyberFilmSchool.com and FilmFestivals.com as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Filmmaking. He is the publisher of Film Underground and has served as an expert source for international newspaper and radio media outlets. Berry twice served as the Director of the Northwest Projections Film Festival and as a panel judge on numerous festivals and competitions.

Glen Berry is the Director of the Northwest Film School where he teaches directing, producing and editing. He has specialized in creative editing and post production techniques with independent film. His interests include the cognitive functions of the mind as it applies to motion picture editing as well as new forms of communications in the visual arts.

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