Once your production has secured a location for filming, your next step should be to get a location release form signed. A good location release form does more than secure a release for your use of the location, though. It also serves to protect both the production and the location's owner in the event anything goes wrong.
The Importance of Using a Location Release Form
While it may be tempting to start shooting on the basis of a handshake between you and the owner of the location where you'll be filming, it is an extremely risky endeavor to do so without having a signed location release form in place before you begin shooting.
As its name indicates, a location release form accomplishes the very important task of giving you permission to show the location in your production. However, a location release form also sets out other details surrounding the transaction. The bottom line is that the form will spell out the expectations of both your production company and the location's owner in writing. This reduces the potential for any conflicts that could arise during the course of your shoot or afterwards.
Standard Location Release Form
Each location release form you use needs to be customized to your specific needs, but even a simple location release form will contain certain terms. If you will be using a template to draft your own location agreement release form, it may help to know that the location release form can also be referred to as a "movie location release" or "filmmaker location release."
Regardless of the specific name of the form you're using, it's a good idea for your final location release agreement to include the following:
- The parties involved. This is the section where you will put the names and contact information for both your production company and the location's owner.
- The location where shooting will take place. Be as specific as you can in this section, and set out the location's full address. If you only have permission to shoot in specific areas, this needs to be set out in the release form as well.
- How long you will be filming at the location. In addition to stating the duration of your shoot on location, you should include information about any restrictions imposed on your shoot. Additionally, it's a good idea to include permission for you to extend your shoot in the event something unpredictable, such as bad weather, affects your shooting schedule.
- Payment for the location. In this section, you should state not only what you will be paying the owner for the use of the location, but also when and how the payment is to be made. If the owner will be incurring additional costs related to your shoot, the release form should specify who is responsible for such costs.
- Modifications to the location. If there is anything specific you need to do to make the location suitable for your shoot, describe it in detail here. Your wording should clearly state that the owner is authorizing the modifications described, as well as warrantying that they are entitled to give you permission to make such changes.
- Cleanup and restoration. This section specifies that the production company will clean up after the shoot, and basically restore the property to what it was when they were first granted access to the location. This includes reversing any modifications that were made for the purpose of the shoot.
- The location release. As mentioned above, this important section gives you the right to use depictions of the location in your film. On signing the location release form, the owner releases any rights they may have to what you have filmed.
Just like a talent release form, the location release form is an essential part of every filmmaker's set of tools. Whether you're filming a movie, a documentary, or a short commercial, if you're shooting on location, it's important to protect your production with a comprehensive location release form.