In the world of filmmaking, great ideas and a talented crew are just the tip of the iceberg. A successful production requires meticulous planning, obtaining permission where necessary and having strong legal documents in place.  

Let’s say you’re making an interesting documentary or perhaps a captivating short film. No matter what kind of production you’ve got going on, you’re likely going to need to go somewhere to film. This is where a Location Release Form comes in. 

Keep reading to know more about location release forms and when you might need one. 

What Is A Location Release Form?

A Location Release Form is a legally binding contract that gives filmmakers permission to record or take photographs on a particular location. It’s a contract between the filmmaker (or owner of the production) and the person in charge of the property in question. 

It’s important to have a location release form in place, as it will help protect the interest of both parties. Location release forms cover crucial matters such as, the day and times allowed for use of the property, payment and what happens if something goes wrong. 

A location release form can be useful when it comes to mitigating the risks of filming on someone else’s property, so it’s worth getting a legal expert to draft one for you. 

Can I Film On Private Property In Australia? 

Yes, filming on private property is fine only if you have approval from the owner. We do not recommend verbal permission though as miscommunication can happen. A written agreement can make sure all parties agree to the same terms and conditions. That way, filming can run smoothly without any unwanted hiccups.  

When Do I Need A Location Release Form?

It’s best to have a location release form prepared and signed before the cameras start rolling. In order to determine whether or not you need a location release form, you’ll need to carefully assess your filming circumstances. A location release form isn’t something that is necessarily legally required, however it’s always smart to have a document that clearly states you have permission to be filming somewhere. If you’re confused about whether or not you need one, you can always chat to a legal expert

In some cases, you won’t need to get a location release form as there is already a process in place for obtaining permission to film on that location. This generally happens for public spaces. Therefore, if you’re going to be filming in a public place, It’s important to take a look at any local council regulations and see whether or not they have a special process and application fee for obtaining permission to film there. 

Steve is filming a short horror film for an upcoming film festival. One part of the film will be shot inside a house and the rest will be filmed in a national park. For the house, Steve has gotten a  location release form signed by the owner. For the nation park though, Steve had to fill out an application form with the local council, pay a fee and then wait for approval. Once his approval was officially cleared, Steve and his crew were legally able to film there as well. 

Can Someone Be Filmed Without Permission On Private Property? 

When you’re gaining authorisation for filming on private property, you also need to consider having permission to film other people. As a standard rule, you need consent from people to film them on private property, especially if it is going to be used for commercial purposes. However, the rules can differ based on circumstance and the regulations of where you’re located. 

Keep in mind though, it can be pretty inconvenient to re-shoot something or make significant edits to a finished work because someone was filmed who didn’t want to be. So, it’s always a good idea to get consent from anyone who is going to be filmed. 

Do I Need A Release Form For Filming People? 

Just like with location release forms, getting permission to film people should always be done in writing. A Photography/Video Consent Form or even a Model Release Form (depending on what you’re shooting and how) can help you establish consent so you can focus your creativity in the right places, without worrying about all the legal stuff. 

When you have written permission, you and the party being filmed can be on the same page regarding matters such as what they will be filmed for, how it will be used and how long it will be used. When everyone agrees to the same terms, it lessens the chance of a dispute as you have something to refer back to. 

If you’re unsure about what kind of form you might need for your project, our legal experts would be happy to talk you through your options.  

Next Steps   

Location Release forms are important to keep your filming projects running as planned so you don’t run into any trouble. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • A Location Release Form allows filmmakers to shoot on a specific location with the property owner’s permission 
  • Location release forms protect the interest of the filmmaker and the property owner 
  • If you’re filming on private property, we recommend getting written approval to avoid potential issues down the line 
  • For public spaces, check local council regulations for any special processes or application fees required to obtain permission to film there.
  • You will also need to gain the consent of individuals that will get filmed or photographed. A Photography/Video Consent Form or Model Release Form is helpful in this scenario 
  • Have a legal expert draft your release forms, so you can be assured your contracts are  working in your favour  

If you would like a consultation on location release forms, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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