Saturday, January 29, 2005

Film and Copyright...Taking it into the Festivals

I've seemed to be stuck on this one note for the last couple of days (thanks Pete!!! :-). I was attending Bloomington's very own, 2nd Annual Pride Film Festival both today and yesterday, and there was a panel discussion with some of the filmmakers after this afternoon's showing.

I asked the two filmmakers/documentarians: If they because of rights issues have at any time self-censored their filming, because they knew they couldn't afford or get clearance for any piece of cultural "property" they experienced in-frame. Jonathan McNeal, Dayton, Ohio-based director of RUBI GIRLS said no, and that sort of thing would be dealt with in the editing process. Another of the panelists, Bloomington filmmaker Scott Schirmer (whose feature OFF THE BEATEN PATH was shown), said that in regards to the music they were using. It took them two years to try to get permission for a Leonard Cohen song in the movie. In the end, they chose to go with a songwriter they personally knew and who would sell them the song and its rights outright. I didn't want to bring out the whole issue, since I was asking this in public, but obviously these issues affect not only production and screening of a movie, but also its distribution on the festival circuit and for home video, and perhaps someday on our own cable channel.

I loved the soundtrack that was incorporated--a Seattle-based musician named Jayson Webbley. I like Cohen's songs, but a lot of times it's better to go with an up-and-comer, whose music can evoke the spirit of the film, without the personality stamp of the artist associated with the song(s). Here's a picture of Jayson:

Day two of two of using this new information to see just how the "rights clearance culture" affects creativity and cultural production, esp. those working in the not-for-profit documentary market.

Also, I made contact with IU Communications professor Mary Gray, who was moderating the post-film discussion. I told her about ISDC, and asked her if any of her colleagues were looking at any of the issues of Creative Commons in the film and documentary world specifically. She said yes, and also one of her other colleagues in folklore.


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