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Thread: Urgent help needed on legality of filming an amateur show. Mark W & The GURU pls help

  1. #1

    Default Urgent help needed on legality of filming an amateur show, pls

    I need advice for an amateur theatre production that I am filming at the moment over four nights. I have a written agreement with the company, specifically the chairman, that I will be recording the performances to be edited together on a DVD for the companies archive and training purposes. They are aware this is also for my own personal training experience and I am delivering the service free of charge and that any footage recorded must not be shown to the public and sold to make any profit in any way. We are both aware of the severe penalty that will be incurred if this should happen. I have stated that this would be clearly indicated at the start of the DVD unless they have express permission from the original writers and companies. The problem is not with the company however……let me explain.

    I am recording the performances taking a direct balanced sound mix from the sound booth into my camera. This is made up from four microphones located at the front of the stage that picks up the actors, pit singers and band extremely well. The keyboard player has refused to be recorded as initially he thought that the company would seek to make a profit from his performance. He is already being paid for the work but wanted more money. Following this he said that written confirmation would need to be given to him that it was for private internal company use only. I spent most of yesterday putting together a written agreement that strictly outlined that the recordings would not be published in any way to the public and would not be for any profit for myself or the company. I also the stated the copyright laws of such an act and the penalties incurred if it went public. I clearly stated that I am supplying this service free of charge for personal experience and training for both myself and for the companies archive. During the interval in the performance last night he threw the contract back saying it was unacceptable and didn’t want an idiot recording him refusing to play. I had to no choice but to switch off the camera for the second half for the sake of the company.

    I have read ‘THE GURU’s posting about legality which was very informative but am unclear how it would apply to this scenario. Surely the written agreement between me and the company is enough. The music director would have fired him apparently but she knew that he would try and take the company to court. Sounds like this guy is being completely unreasonable and difficult. The rest of the band, actors and singers are completely happy to be recorded. One of the actors is a professional they have brought in and is more than happy to feature in an introduction interview for the show. Bearing in mind that the keyboard player has a contract also to play can he breach it in this way and threaten to not perform

    Urgent advice needed as I was planning to record the performances tonight and tomorrow. ‘Mark W’ I know you have a lot of experience with this and you might have come across this scenario and ‘THE GURU’ of course. If you guys are online and pick this up, please can you help.

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by squantrill; 04-24-2009 at 10:42 AM.

  2. #2

    Default

    Squantrill,

    the bad news is that the piano player can do whatever the hell he likes - he's under no compunction to play other than that outlined in any contract he has with the performance company. That contract is between him and the company and you can't use it to compell him to do anything. (It's called 'privity of contract').

    He could refuse to play on the grounds taht he didn't contract to play for a recorded performance......... usually you get more £££ for this you see.
    The company could argue that the recording is purely informal and doesn't 'count' as a recording in the sense of any financial exploitation....

    He can argue that it's goign to be used for training purposes..... and that amounts to commercial exploitation of his performance beyond that for which he's being paid.

    Have you got the time for a protracted legal argument??

    Speaking as a fully paid up lawyer - (yes really) Your main problem here isn't really a legal one...... it's just that The pianist is a petty-fogging A-hole who won't behave reasonably in the circumstances.

    He's also dragging you down a ' make a contract for me' route that is daft given the circumstances... and that says a LOT about his mind-set.

    Solutions?......

    Carrot and stick.

    Carrot - win him over with charm and persuasion and promise of further work.
    (you should really have let him know you are filming a big production later thsi year...and they need musicians - especially a pianaist if his 'quality')

    Stick - the prod compnay have to let him know (subtly) .. there'll be no further work.....

    Good luck!

  3. #3

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    I figured it would end up being something like this. Tis a real shame really as the cast and company were really looking forward to this production. As you say it's probably not worth the hassle. He has already p*ssed of the sound man numerous times. Bad news for the keyboard player though as the sound guy does alot of theatre work in the south, knows his stuff as well, and he can easily spread bad word of this guy. I can think of two, STEER CLEAR! He has apparently reduced the MD to tears twice now and even took over her conducting the band at one point. Disgraceful behavior for someone who thinks of themselves as a god who couldn't even transpose a section of music for one of the actors. Thank you for your advice.
    Last edited by squantrill; 04-24-2009 at 11:22 AM.

  4. #4
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    Egos eh? I've come across people like this keyboard player many a time before. The carrot and stick approach might work - but he sounds like a first class asshole, so probably not at this stage.

    Not that this is useful in this production, but in future, I would advise the company to build in a recording clause into the muso's contracts. Pretty standard stuff really and work checking standing contracts to see it's not already covered in some way.

    Best of luck - sounds like you'll need it.

  5. #5

    Default

    He is completely unreasonable. I passed a message for him to have a chat and talk about it. Give me an opportunity to explain what this is all about and hopefully give me a chance to befriend him. If not then I would have gracefully switched the camera off. The guy refuses to talk to me. He left via a fire exit out the back to avoid passing me on the way out where I was setup. Coward?

    I have just thought of an idea. If I recorded the actors only, (mix of their radio mics) better than nothing. Surely then, there is nothing he can do to stop it? Just an idea

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by squantrill View Post
    He is completely unreasonable. I passed a message for him to have a chat and talk about it. Give me an opportunity to explain what this is all about and hopefully give me a chance to befriend him. If not then I would have gracefully switched the camera off. The guy refuses to talk to me. He left via a fire exit out the back to avoid passing me on the way out where I was setup. Coward?

    I have just thought of an idea. If I recorded the actors only, (mix of their radio mics) better than nothing. Surely then, there is nothing he can do to stop it? Just an idea
    My guess is he will claim that (even though it's only overspill) he's still be recorded. Check his existing contract to be doubly sure it's not covered (even obliquely) if not, I've a feeling you're screwed.

    Stupid thing is, he will be too. It doesn't take many antics like this for a player to get a reputation that preceeds them. He won't get work with this compnay again I'll bet. Probably too late to get a dep in too at this stage, even if they paid him off. Or is it?

  7. #7

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    Thanks, I have just emailed the MD to get the contract emailed over to me to have it properly checked. Chances are it won't though I'm fearing. Sounds like this a-hole is very specific and he would have checked something like this thoroughly before kicking off. Despite being an ass he obviously is intelligent enough to knows his rights. Well anything to try and grab more cash anyway. In the meantime everyone else loses out. The cast and company and my own experience of this filming. Lesson learnt though for next time. Will have to ensure that this is added to any future contracts. Thanks again!
    Last edited by squantrill; 04-24-2009 at 12:15 PM.

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    Not worth paying him off and getting a dep in his place?

  9. #9

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    Company doesn't have enough money. They are stuggling with this show already. This way if I turn the camera off he has no choice but to play.

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    Fair enough mate. Shame it's a lost cause - a case of live and learn for all concerned...

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