When creating a documentary, film, television show or even just a school project, it is wise to be weary of talent release rules. If you fail to explain the expectations of the talent and what their image may be used for, you could end up in a slurry of legal trouble that may halt your production schedule. Take some time to read over these fundamentals of talent release so you can ensure your production goes off without a hitch.

(Looking for some free talent release stock footage? Click here to download your free stock footage clip.)

When do I need a talent release

It is good practice to have a talent release whenever you use someone’s image or likeness in video. Different circumstances yield different talent release practices. For example, if you are shooting a movie, the release should be part of the actor’s contract. If you are shooting a documentary, you can pass out talent release forms to those you interview. If you are shooting a large event like a concert, you can simply announce (on camera) that by being present the audience is consenting to the talent release agreement.

Is there ever a time when I do not need a talent release?

If you are covering the public reaction to a news worthy event or shooting general crowd footage in a public place that could not defame an individual’s identity, then you are free to shoot just as a broadcast journalist would be able to.

What should a talent release form say?

A talent release should give your production company the ability to use a person’s image, sound and/or likeness. It should also include how you plan on distributing the final project (ie, television, theaters, internet, etc). Below is an example of a talent release found in The Filmmaker’s Handbook: Third Edition. Please note, a talent release form should be drafted by a lawyer to ensure ultimate security.

Person Appearing: ______________ 

Name of Film: __________________ (the “Film”) 

Production Date: ________________ 

Production Location: ______________ 

I authorize _________________ (the “Producer”), the Producer’s agents, successors, assigns, and the designee to record my name, likeness, image, voice, sound effects, interview, and performance on film, tape or otherwise (the “Recording”), edit such Recording as the Producer may desire, and incorporate such Recording into the Film and all related advertising materials. It is understood and agreed that the Producer shall retain final editorial, artistic, and technical control of the Film and the Film content. The Producer may use and authorize others to use the Film, any portions thereof, and the Recording in all markets, manner and media, whether now known or hereafter developed, throughout the universe in perpetuity. The Producer and/or the Producer’s successors and assigns, shall own the rights, title and interest, including the copyright, in and to the Film, including the Recording and related materials, to be used and disposed of, without limitation, as the Producer shall determine. 

Signature: _________________ 

Address: __________________ 


Can I use talent release footage for advertisements or commercial purposes?

You can only use talent release footage in advertisements if the release specifically grants that permission. Typically to include this permission in your release, you will want to use the verbiage right of publicity. Some talent may require additional payment to include this in their contract.

What if there are people in stock footage that I purchased?

You should check with the stock footage distributor, but typically footage that is sold will be talent released. Check out the license agreement that comes with your footage, or call the company directly to ensure that there will be no talent release issues if you use their footage for commercial purposes.

Do you have any other questions about talent release that we haven’t covered? Let us know and we’ll find some answers for you! Just leave a comment below or write on our Facebook wall!

And if you’re looking for some talent release footage, we have some for you! Click the button below to download your free talent release stock footage clip. And if you’re looking for more, sign up for 7 days of complimentary videos from VideoBlocks!

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