December 30, 2004

Check The Clearance, Clarence. And Make It A BIG Check.

The Center For Social Media conducted a study of the costs and effects of clearing intellectual property on independent documentary filmmakers. They look at the costs, the process, and the impact on how films are made and on what subjects. Then they make some recommendations.

To any filmmaker who thought they were the only one who had problems with clearing an image, a trademark or--heaven forbid--a piece of music, take comfort: it's an expensive pain in the ass for everyone. You just can't do anything about it. Yet.

Some eye popping examples of their key finding:
Rights clearance costs are high, and have escalated dramatically in the last two decades. [thanks in part to consolidation of film and photo archives (hello, Corbis, Getty...)]

  • Examples: 60% of the $1mm budget for the 1999 "American Experience" docu, Ella FitzgeraldóSomething to Live For went to clearances.
  • Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation, which supposedly cost all of $218 to make, cost over $400,000 to clear.
  • "There's a pivotal scene in Hoop Dreams, recalled Peter Gilbert, "where it's Arthur's 18th birthday and his mother said, 'Isn't it wonderful that he made it to 18?' and they sing 'Happy Birthday.' 'Happy Birthday' costs. They're brutal about it. You're not going to get a deal on 'Happy Birthday.'" It cost $15,000 to $20,000 for just one verse of "Happy Birthday."

    Untold Stories: Creative Consequences of the Rights Clearance Culture for Documentary Filmmakers
    [CSM, via boingboing]

  • Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

    find me on twitter: @gregorg

    post info

    first published: December 30, 2004.

    next older post:
    A-Clips: Anti-Sponsored Shorts

    next newer post:
    Re-inventing the Light Bulb, 1/2: Emily Rauh Pulitzer

    recent projects, &c.


    shanzhai_gursky_mb_thumb.jpg
    It Narratives, incl.
    Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
    Franklin Street Works, Stamford
    Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
    about | link

    therealhennessy_tweet_sidebar.jpg
    TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
    about

    sop_red_gregorg.jpg
    Standard Operating Procedure
    about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

    CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
    Canal Zone Richard Prince
    YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
    Decision, plus the Court's
    Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
    about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

    weeksville_echo_sidebar.jpg
    "Exhibition Space"
    Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


    HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
    Printed Matter, NYC
    Summer 2012
    panel &c.


    drp_04_gregorg_sidebar.jpg
    Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
    background | making of
    "Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

    czrpyr_blogads.jpg
    Canal Zone Richard
    Prince YES RASTA:
    Selected Court Documents
    from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
    about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

    archives