Author: Tony

Crew Drills (BTH) – Fall 2020

The purpose of the crew drills is to practice working in each of the crew positions. Don’t get too caught up on trying to make the “perfect” scene. Keep it really simple. BFA3 department heads mentor those in their department, as follows:

  • 1st AD mentors both 2nd ADs
  • 1st AC mentors both 2nd ACs
  • Key Grip mentors both BBGs

Food will not be provided, so make sure you plan accordingly. You have a 1-hour lunch break, so either bring your own lunch or plan to go out nearby. Just make sure you’re back in time.

Crew drills will take place on the set in Stage A.


BFA3 will complete the Crew Drill grid together as a class. There are 8 BFA3 positions for each drill. This will give each of you an opportunity to mentor the BFA2 and get to know them better. This also gives you a chance to get your hands on the gear again to reignite that muscle memory.

BFA2 will work the 3 positions (2D, 2C, BG) in pairs. One of the 2Ds and one of the 2Cs will start off as Actors for the first half of the drill. Then they will swap, and the other 2D & 2C will be the Actors. The BGs will remain working in pairs during the entire drill.


The production will have 3 hours to unload the van, block, rehearse, build, shoot, and wrap.

Plan on having 6 total setups. Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Have the Director modify the blocking, the 2C lay down new marks, and then reshoot the scene with the other 3 setups.

  • 1st New Deal 0:10
  • Camera on set 0:30
  • Lighting complete 0:40
  • Start Shooting 0:45
  • Swap Actors with other 2D/2C pair 1:30
  • 2nd New Deal 1:40
  • Camera Wrap 2:30
  • Company Wrap 3:00

Crew responsibilities


Before the Drill

  • You will use a scene (or part of a scene) from your BTH script for this crew drill. The script must meet the following criteria (make up a crew drill version if necessary):
    • Must be no less than 1 full page, and no more than 1 4/8 pages in length
    • Must only have 2 characters (no more, no less)
    • Must have dialog (so the Sound Mixer can practice recording it)
    • Keep it simple (no stunts, close proximity, weapons, complicated SFX, etc.)
  • The cast will consist of one of the 2D and 2C pairs, then they’ll swap half way through.
  • Discuss the shot design with the DP.

During the Drill

  • At the beginning of the shift, briefly block with the Actors on the set (keep it really simple).
  • During the New Deal, have the Actors demonstrate the blocking for the crew.
  • Direct the Actors in the scene.
  • Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Modify the blocking with them, then reshoot the scene with the other 3 setups.
Production Designer

Before the Drill

  • Discuss the production design with the Director (keep it simple).
  • Acquire props, wardrobe, etc (only if absolutely necessary).

During the Drill

  • Dress the set, provide props & wardrobe only if necessary.
Director of Photography

Before the Drill

  • Discuss the shot design with the Director.
  • Create a simple Setup Schedule with 3 setups for each of the 2D/2C Actor pairs, for a total of 6 setups. For example:
    • 1st 2D/2C Actor Pair: 3 setups (1 master + 2 singles)
    • 2nd 2D/2C Actor Pair: 3 setups (1 master + 2 singles)

During the Drill

  • Communicate the setups to the crew.
  • Manage the Camera, Grip & Electric Departments.
  • Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Have the Director modify the blocking, the 2C lay down new marks, and then reshoot the scene with the other 3 setups.
1st Assistant Director

Before the Drill

  • Get a copy of the Setup Schedule from the DP.

During the Drill

  • At call time, have a Safety Meeting with the entire crew to communicate an emergency plan, location hazards and any production safety concerns. Complete the Safety Meeting Report
  • Get the DR to quickly show the Actors the blocking, while the 2C lays down marks, then call a New Deal.
  • Run the set, making sure the crew is working safely and efficiently.
  • Keep track of your time using the Setup Schedule.
  • Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Have the Director modify the blocking, the 2C lay down new marks, then call a New Deal
  • Reshoot the scene with the remaining 3 setups.
2nd Assistant Director

During the Drill

  • At the beginning of the shift:
    • Take forehead temperature of each crew member.
    • Have crew sign in using the iPad timeclock.
    • Hand out walkies to department heads.
  • During the shift:
    • Remain in Green Room with the Actors, except to escort them to/from set at 1st AD’s request.
    • During a setup, remain outside the stage doors to make sure no one enters during a take.
  • At the end of the shift:
    • Complete the Performers Production Time Report. Have the Actors sign it.
    • Have crew sign out using the iPad timeclock.
    • Collect walkies and put them back on charger.
All Other BTL

During the Drill

  • Work with BFA3 mentors in your assigned positions.

QD2 Production Delivery List

The following is a list of items students must deliver to the Head of Production via the production’s OneDrive folder. Submit one electronic version (either scanned PDF or electronic original) of all documents using the provided folder structure. Name files according to the naming conventions provided in each section (e.g. 01qd2-Script.pdf).

Always keep a backup copy and/or hard copy of all files in a production delivery binder in case a delivered file becomes corrupt or accidentally deleted.

Due Dates

Part I – Production Delivery
Due by 5:00pm on the following dates:
• Shows 01-04 – Sat, May 30
• Shows 05-07 – Sun, May 31
• Shows 08-11 – Sun, June 7
• Shows 12-15 – Mon, June 8
• Shows 16-19 – Mon, June 15
• Shows 20-23 – Tue, June 16
To be completed by the Director.

Part II – Post Production Delivery
Due by 5:00pm on Monday, June 22, 2020.
To be completed by the Director.

Part III – Film Festival Press Materials
Due by 5:00pm on Friday, September 4, 2020.
To be completed by the Director.

Part I – Production Delivery

01. Script

  • PDF file of the final shooting script
  • Final Draft file of the final shooting script

02. Production Schedule

  • PDF of final Shooting Schedule
  • Vertical Stripboard Report from Scenechronize

03. Daily Production Paperwork

PDFs of all paperwork from each day of production:

04. Releases

PDFs of all required releases:

Plus additional releases (if applicable):

05. Correspondence

  • PDFs of all general correspondence including letters, emails, faxes, etc. At the very least, this should include a thank-you letter to each location.

06. Crew Information

  • Update the Crew tab in Motion with any additional crewmembers (e.g. volunteers). Save a PDF of the Crew list, and include it in this section.
  • A good, clear scanned copy of the Director’s student ID card

07. Cast Information

  • Update the Cast tab in Motion with info for every person who appears on screen. Include a headshot for all Lead & Supporting roles (headshot not needed for Silent/Atmosphere Extras). Save a PDF of the Cast list, and include it in this section.

08. Location Info

  • Update the Locations tab in Motion with info and photo for each location used during production. Save a PDF of the Location list, and include it in this section.

09. Vendors

  • Update the Vendors tab in Motion with info on each business or individual from whom items were borrowed, rented or donated. Include in the Keywords a brief description of the items (for donations, also include the real or estimated value of the donation). Save a PDF of the Vendors list, and include it in this section. If there were none, then still include a PDF of the Vendors tab from Motion.

Part II – Post-Production Delivery

01. Project Details

  • Update all info in the Details tab in Motion. Save a PDF of the Details tab, and include it in this section.

02. Dialogue List

  • PDF of a Dialogue List form (typed). Include all spoken dialogue in the final film with descriptions of action seen on screen (for subtitling in foreign language festivals).

03. Music Requirements

  • PDF of Music Cue Sheet (typed), which lists the entrance and exit of all music cues
  • PDF of the music rights, released to the Film School
    • If from Killer Tracks/Universal Production Music, include PDF of the Killer Tracks License.
    • If an original score, include PDF of a Composer Contract signed by the composer.
    • If licensed music, include a Synchronization License from the publisher AND a Master Use License from the record label for world, film festival, for at least 2 years

04. Credits & Title Cards

  • PDF of Credits List form (typed). Include title cards & credits as they appear on screen. This should not be screenshots of the credits from the film.

Part III – Film Festival Press Materials

01. Press Kit

  • PDF and Word files of the Festival Press Kit, organized as follows. You may use the Press Kit template if you like.
    • Title Page: The first page will have the title of the film, contact address, phone number of the FSU Film School, and the Film School logo and copyright.
    • Synopses: A 25-word, and a 40-word synopsis of the film.
    • ATL Info: Biography, filmography & headshot for each ATL crew member.
    • Cast Info: Biography, filmography & headshot for each lead cast member. Union actors should be identified as such and the union to which they belong.
    • Credits: Include credits for each cast and crew member.
    • Production Stills: A minimum of five (5) production stills with captions.
    • Director’s Statement: A brief statement from the director about the project.
    • Poster: A one-sheet of the poster.

02. Press Kit Materials

All elements used in the creation of the Press Kit including photos, fonts, logos, graphics, etc.

  • One (1) photo for each ATL crew member at 300dpi, jpg.
  • Bio for each ATL crew member saved in a Word doc.
    01qd2-ATL Bios.docx
  • Cast Info: One (1) photo for each lead cast member at 300dpi, jpg.
  • Bio for each lead cast member saved in a Word doc.
    01qd2-Cast Bios.docx
  • Synopses: 25-word and 40-word synopses saved in a Word doc.
  • Production Stills: At least five (5) at 300dpi, jpg
    01qd2-Still-01.jpg 01qd2-Still-02.jpg
  • Other Materials: Any other elements, including fonts, logos, graphics, etc.
    any filename that clearly identifies what it is

03. Poster

  • Poster created in Photoshop at 27”x 40”, 300dpi, using these layers: 1) Art, 2) Title, 3) Credits, 4) Logos/Copyright. Use approved Logos/Fonts as needed. Save a layered PSD file and a flattened JPG file.
  • Save a copy of your poster as a 72dpi, 450×663 pixels, flattened jpg to use as a Summary Thumbnail.

04. DVD Artwork

  • DVD case cover created in Photoshop at 10.75” x 7.25”, 300dpi, using these layers: 1) Art, 2) Title/Synopsis, 3) Credits, 4) Logos/Copyright. Save a layered PSD file and a flattened JPG.
  • DVD disc label created in Photoshop at 118mm Ø, center hole 20mm Ø, 300dpi, using these layers: 1) Art, 2) Title/Synopsis, 3) Credits, 4) Logos/Copyright. Save a layered PSD file and a flattened JPG.

05. Media

  • Update the Media tab in Motion with at least 5 Production Stills (72dpi, jpg) and the Summary Thumbnail (Poster at 72dpi, 450×663 pixels, jpg – you must set it to this size or it will not upload). Include a PDF of the Media tab in this section.

06. Film Festival Strategy

  • Update the Festival Strategy form in Motion. Include a PDF of the Festival tab from Motion in this section.

Director’s Prep (BTH)

Before the prep day:

No later than noon on the day before the prep, the Producer is responsible for sending a clean copy of the script (with scene numbers) in PDF format to each member of the faculty thesis committee.

On the prep day:

In order to go as paperless as possible, everything except the screenplay will be presented digitally on the classroom monitor. Be sure to download any materials to the desktop computer for presentation.

Hard copies of the screenplay — with title page, scene numbers and lined script — will be handed out at the beginning of prep to each member of the faculty thesis committee.

If there are any VFX shots or if a camera other than the primary assigned thesis camera is planned to be employed in the production then the hard copy signed VFX approval forms must be shown to the Thesis supervisor.

The presentation will include:

  1. The Producer’s visual presentation file
  2. The Director’s visual presentation file
  3. The Director of Photography’s visual presentation file
  4. The Production Designers’ visual presentation file
  5. The screenplay with scene numbers and the beat-by-beat breakdown
  6. The UPM breakdown script
  7. The production board (header board and a strip for each scene in shooting order)
  8. The shooting schedule

In addition to the above requirements the Cinematography, Editing and Production Design faculty may require additional items in either electronic or hard copy form. Please see those faculty members for additional requirements.

Be sure that all above requirements are ready and provided to the appropriate faculty members at the time the prep is scheduled to begin.

Director’s Prep will occur in four separate sections and in the following order:

  1. Presentation of the movie.
  2. Faculty Q&A.
  3. Presentation and discussion of storyboards.
  4. Creation of an action plan.

The producer, director, production designer, cinematographer and 1st A.D. must attend the prep. (The production team may determine that the attendance of other crewmembers is necessary, and may invite them to prep as needed.)

Section I — Presentation of the Movie

The purpose of this section is to give the thesis film’s producer, director, production designer and cinematographer an opportunity to present the film to the faculty – uninterrupted. We will start the prep with the director addressing any notes addressed or not addressed after concept prep. After that, both cinematographer and production designer will do their presentations.

Let images speak for themselves in both cases.

Address the Cassavetes experience, and also if any information regarding the crew drills exercises: please share with us any findings, what you learned.

Producer will do the final presentation, showing the temp strip board and a brief resume of it.

Students will make presentations to the faculty in the following order:

1. The Producer will introduce the title of the film, and the crew positions held by every student in Director’s Prep. This should be done quickly, and without formality; it’s intended to give the faculty an orientation to who is doing what.

2. The Director will present a outcomes of concept prep, and what has changed/has been achieved. Then a quick visual pitch of the story to the faculty. The Pitch should be in story order and be supported by visual slide, which illustrate the essence of the directors vision for each moment of the pitch. The director will also present their casting choices, with audition videos ideally, exercise and only as last resource with stills.

Remember that these are images that you have found and or created for visually illustrating your pitch of the story. The images are meant be representational of “key story beats” to illustrate and evoke the feeling of the moment in your story.

The most important thing is that you TELL the story as a storytelling, using the images as background support for your PITCH.

3. The Production Designer will continue to present a brief visual illustration of the major design aspects as it relates to the world and characters of the film.

The presentation will begin with the world in which the story takes place. The presentation should include:

  • Photos representing the locale of the story.
  • Photos of every actual location the action will occur.
  • Photos of any key elements (such as picture vehicles).

After locations, the Production Designer will present photos and/or actual examples of key props/set dressings and the wardrobe for the main characters, with a focus on how the wardrobe helps illustrate the history, emotional construction and objectives of each main character. The presentation should include:

  • Photos or illustrations of the characters wardrobe/hair/makeup.
  • Any particularly relevant props and/or set dressing.

The Production Designer’s presentation should emphasize how the design of the world will illustrate – or serve – the overall expression of the story and its main characters (who they are and what they want).

4. The Cinematographer will present a three-to-four minute illustration of the “Cinematographic Plan” of the film. To show found and/or created photos and videos (including the Cassavetes workshop scene), the Cinematographer will demonstrate how color, light, shadow and visual language will illustrate the story. The presentation should include:

  • Visual References: Present an illustration of the visual plan for the film. You may also include movie clips (website link), paintings, stills, artwork, AC articles, anything that visually echoes the story’s look/visual mood. These references should reflect lighting ideas, contrast ratios, color, camera movement and shot design.
  • Mood: In writing, identify the emotional intent of the film and be prepared to explain the visual elements you plan on incorporating in your cinematography that support the emotional intent of the director. Describe any changes in mood and how you plan to support, enhance, underscore visually.
  • Format: Please describe your format choice/s. Please delineate your reasons behind each format choice. This applies to both framing formats (16×9(spherical), 2.4:1(widescreen) and digital capture formats (4k, 2k, DSLR, RED Lake, Etc.). Note any camera systems utilized other than RED should be a colored storyboard to indicate VFX and be prepared to discuss the story-based reasonings of this additional camera system.
  • Color Temperature Plan: Describe all the different lighting environments and the scene(s) that are set within that environment. For each of these major environments, write a brief description of how you plan to balance the scene/sequence’s color temperature.
  • Exposure/Filtration Plan: Outline a general exposure plan for each major lighting environment within you story. Note proposed shooting stops, expected footcandle readings at middle grey, expected ISO setting and contrast ratios you are aiming for associated with each environment. Also indicate any filtration you intend to use and the reasons why.
  • Specific Production Challenges: Describe any major lighting, rigging, power, location and/or camera challenges that need larger development and be prepared to explain how you propose to overcome these challenges.

5. The Producer will return with a three-minute presentation going through the Production board scene by scene in shooting order with the planned CALL and WRAP times for each shooting day including the plan for the use of any overtime.

As the producer goes through each day they should discuss all pre- production accomplishments and challenges related to each scene, with a plan for how the team will meet each challenge.

The Producer should focus on all concerns that any objective person would have about the production (e.g., a difficult location, an exotic animal, a dangerous activity, etc.). The goal is to anticipate the faculty’s concerns and address them before the Q&A begins.

Section II – Faculty Q&A

Faculty will ask students questions related to the presentation of the film in Section I. Students must be prepared to address in detail every story, script and production concern the faculty may have. The First Assistant Director will take notes during this section, making certain to document every faculty concern and related resolutions. It is important that the 1st A.D. has a complete understanding of any and all topics of discussion (the production team will rely on the 1st AD’s notes to address concerns after Director’s Prep). So the 1st AD should be prepared to stop the Q&A at any time for clarification.

This section will take as long as necessary for the faculty to have a complete understanding of the story, screenplay and production. (The directing faculty member will watch time and make certain to end this session with enough time to accomplish the next section.)

Section III – Presentation and Discussion of Storyboards

The purpose of this section is to give the director an opportunity to present the film to the faculty – frame-by-frame. Storyboards will be presented as a visual representation of how the film will play when it’s completed (e.g., the first storyboard should be the first image in the completed film), and SHOULD NOT be presented as a representation of coverage.

Directors will present storyboards one scene at a time – uninterrupted – describing the action and dialogue that happens in each frame. After each scene, faculty will ask questions and raise concerns. All other production members should be prepared to participate in the answers to the faculty’s questions. Directors will continue to the next scene only after all of the faculty’s questions/concerns have been addressed.

Any storyboard that depicts a camera angle that is intended to be shot as a visual effect, or is intended to be shot with a camera that is different from the primary thesis camera issued, must be either scanned from a yellow page or paper or have a large yellow banner applied under it in the Prezi.

The First Assistant Director will take notes during this section, making certain to document every faculty concern and related resolutions. It is important that the 1st A.D. has a complete understanding of any and all topics of discussion (the production team will rely on the 1st AD’s notes to address concerns after Director’s Prep). So the 1st AD should be prepared to stop the Q&A at any time for clarification.

Section IV – Creation of an Action Plan

The 1st Assistant Director will review with faculty and students every problem identified during prep. Together, faculty and students will determine who will be responsible for solving each problem before production begins. The 1st AD will create a list of these problems and responsible persons, which will become the “Action Plan.” Before the end of the day, the 1st AD will email the film’s Action Plan to each member of the faculty participating in the Director’s Prep. In the days following Director’s Prep, everyone will work to complete the Action Plan.

Prior to the first day of production, the 1st AD will email the completed Action Plan to the faculty, with a description of the resolution(s) for each problem identified.

If the action plan is not complete and submitted 12 hours before the first shooting day’s call time then the show will be penalized by the reduction of some or all of the shows overtime/PU days/special equipment privileges to be determined by the faculty production supervisor.

Concept Prep (BTH)


This is the opportunity for the directors to share their vision, and for the producers to share their plan with the Thesis Faculty. This whole section should last no more than 15 minutes.

  1. Director will Pitch the current story to Faculty that have read the script. Please be concise and to the point. What is this film about? A 5 minute retelling of the script is not a pitch.
  2. Director will show the BEST take of the top two actors that you are considering for the LEAD Roles of the film. If you are able to, show rehearsals, or something that gives us more insight.
  3. The Director will show images of actual locations, which demonstrate the WORLD of the film.
  4. The Director will Show lighting examples which illustrate the overall MOOD of the film.
  5. The Producer will give a logistics status report and summarize the overall Production Plan. This is an important part of the prep, so please do address problems and solutions.


Finally, the team should be prepared to answer any questions related to these items. We shall start asking any questions about story, and after that we shall move ahead with actors, questions about images, and so forth. Of course sometimes are all intertwined, but after the presentation we will start with questions about story.

1st AD Responsibilities (D2)


  • Attend the Production Meeting.
  • Meet with the Producer to discuss the schedule.

On Set

  • Start of day:
    • Arrive at set 30 minutes to an hour early.
    • Get a walkie from the 2nd AD, then go stand where the set will be and stay there. Radio 2nd AD to bring you whatever you need.
    • At call time, have a Safety Meeting with the entire crew. Complete the Safety Meeting Report.
  • Throughout the day:
    • Run through the 1st AD Set Procedure: Block, New Deal, Build, Rehearse, Shoot…
    • Manage the time on the set by keeping up with the Setup Schedule. Adjust schedule as needed.
    • Look ahead to next setups and make sure departments are prepared and working ahead.
  • End of day:

Producer Responsibilities (D2)


  • Secure each filming location by completing a Location Agreement and Shooting Plan. Make sure the location owner is clear about the nature of the production, and provide them with a Location Pamphlet.
  • Organize the Tech Scout for each location with at least the ATL. Establish where the restrooms, parking, staging, base camp and set will be. Complete a Location Hazard Assessment Checklist. If any location hazards, then also complete a Hazard Notification Report.
  • Have each actor sign a Performance Agreement.
  • Arrange for volunteers and/or extras if required.
  • Break down the script and create the Production Schedule in Scenechronize.
  • Coordinate call times with other Producers in your cycle using a Call Time Agreement to ensure 10 hr turnaround.
  • Create a Setup Schedule with the DP.
  • Prepare all scheduling information and other material required for Directors Prep.
  • Attend Directors prep and takes notes for the Director.
  • Assist the Director with any and all logistical needs to prepare for principal photography.
  • Run the Production Meeting by reading the action of the script. Answer crewmembers’ questions.
  • Prepare and make copies of all the paperwork needed on set.
  • Check the weather periodically to monitor adverse conditions. Have a back-up plan.
  • Meet with the 1st AD to discuss the schedule.
  • Purchase Craft Services by the night before production.
  • Pre-order lunch and arrange for it to be picked up by a volunteer on the day of production.
  • Create the Call Sheet, including a map and email no later than 12hrs before call time.
  • Have a Greenlight Meeting with the Head of Production and pick up camera & sound cards, 2D iPad, and SS iPad.
  • Upload script into LockItScript for the Script Supervisor. Then download it onto the Script Supe iPad.
  • Double check every logistical piece of information and make sure nothing has been forgotten.

On Set

  • Start of day:
    • Arrive at set 30 minutes to an hour early.
    • Immediately establish contact with the location owner to make sure everything is still going as planned. Check back with them periodically throughout the day as needed.
    • Deliver the craft services to the 2nd AD for them to set up the craft service table.
    • Give the 2nd AD all the paperwork you prepared ahead of time for them to have completed throughout the day.
  • Throughout the day:
    • Be another set of eyes at the tap monitor to make sure all is going as planned.
    • Verify with volunteer that lunch will be brought to set in time for 2nd AD to set it up prior to releasing for lunch.
  • End of day:
    • Approve the Daily Production Report and have 2nd AD distribute copies at the end of the day.
    • Collect all the Daily Production Paperwork, camera cards & sound cards from the 2nd AD.
    • With 2nd AD, clean and secure location. Be the LAST TO LEAVE (except perhaps Art Dept).
    • Whenever possible, do a walk-thru with the location owner to verify everything is in order.
    • Leave the location better than when you arrived.


  • Turn in iPads to the Head of Production by 10am on Wednesday after production.
  • Turn in Production Delivery Paperwork via OneDrive to the Head of Production by 9am Thurday after production.

Data Allocation (D2)

Below is the data allocation for each production. If you would like to request additional data (e.g. for slow motion), you must present the Data Allocation Approval form at the Director Prep, and get approval from the Prep faculty. Then submit to the Head of Production for final approval. 

FormatHelium 7K HD
Frame Rate24fps
Data per minute6 Gb/minute
Final Draft Page Count5 pages
Shooting Ratio20:1
Shooting Days2 Days
Pages per day2.5 pages
Estimated data per day300 Gb
Estimated data per page120 Gb
Maximum Dailies Length100 minutes
Maximum Dailies Size600 Gb

Budgets (D2)

Lunch & craft

For each live action show, a dollar amount is provided for every assigned crew member, plus two actors and one volunteer:

  • $8.00 per head lunch catering for 15 crew members and 3 actors or volunteers (18 people total ): $144.00 per day.
  • $3.00 per head craft service for 15 crew members and 3 actors or volunteers (18 people total): $54.00 per day.

Therefore, the total allocation for lunch and craft service is $396.00.

The amount of money allocated to each film is a set amount. It does not shrink if the crew gets smaller and it does not increase if you add volunteer crew or actors. This amount is allocated as part of the necessary budget the school provides, based on the scope of the production.

Food budgets are allocated to live action productions only and are considered part of the “Provided Production Costs” because meal time is regulated and crew members are not allowed to leave set.

You may use the total funds for food in any way you wish, as long as it goes only to catering and craft service. This is a “use-it-or-lose-it” budget.

Fair Use

Using copyrighted materials in a documentary film is generally allowable if the use falls under one of the following four categories. For more info, visit

Social, political, cultural critique

  • Case: Employing copyrighted material as the object of social, political, or cultural critique
  • Use: Specific copyrighted work is held up for critical analysis in the same way that a newspaper might review a new book and quote from it by way of illustration. This activity is at the very core of the fair use doctrine as a safeguard for freedom of expression. So long as the filmmaker analyzes or comments on the work itself, the means may vary, the use may be as extensive as is necessary to make the point, permitting the viewer to fully grasp the criticism or analysis.
  • Limitations: The use should not be so extensive or pervasive that it ceases to function as critique and becomes, instead, a way of satisfying the audience’s taste for the thing (or the kind of thing) critiqued. In other words, the critical use should not become a market substitute for the work (or other works like it).

Illustration of an argument or point

  • Case: Quoting copyrighted works of popular culture to illustrate an argument or point
  • Use: Here material of whatever kind is used not because it is, in itself, the object of critique but because it aptly illustrates some argument or point that a filmmaker is developing—as clips from fiction films might be used (for example) to demonstrate changing American attitudes toward race. The possibility that the quotes might entertain an audience as well as illustrate a filmmaker’s argument takes nothing away from the fair use claim. The filmmaker is not presenting the material for its original purpose but harnessing it for a new one.
  • Limitations: Documentarians should assure that the material is properly attributed, to the extent possible materials are drawn from a range of different sources, each usage is no longer than is necessary to achieve the intended effect, the material is not employed merely in order to avoid the cost or inconvenience of shooting equivalent footage.

Incidentally captured material

  • Case: Capturing copyrighted media content in the process of filming something else
  • Use: Documentarians often record copyrighted sounds and images when they are filming sequences in real-life settings. Common examples are the text of a poster on a wall, music playing on the radio, and television programming heard (perhaps seen) in the background. In a documentary, the incidentally captured material is an integral part of the ordinary reality being documented. Where a sound or image has been captured incidentally and without prevision, as part of an unstaged scene, it should be permissible to use it, to a reasonable extent, as part of the final version of the film.
  • Limitations: Documentarians should take care that particular content played or displayed in a scene being filmed was not requested or directed; incidentally captured media content included in the final version of the film is integral to the scene/action; content is properly attributed; the scene has not been included primarily to exploit the incidentally captured content in its own right; and the captured content does not constitute the scene’s primary focus or interest. In the case of music, the content does not function as a substitute for a synch track (as it might, for example, if the sequence containing the captured music were cut on its beat, or if the music were used after the filmmaker has cut away to another sequence).

Historical sequence

  • Case: Using copyrighted material in a historical sequence
  • Use: In many cases the best (or even the only) effective way to tell a particular historical story or make a historical point is to make selective use of words that were spoken during the events in questions, music that was associated with the events, or photographs and films that were taken at the time. In many cases, such material is available, on reasonable terms, under license. On occasion, however, the licensing system breaks down.
  • Limitations: Documentarians show that: the film project was not specifically designed around the material in question; the material serves a critical illustrative function, and no substitute exists with the same general characteristics; the material cannot be licensed, or the material can be licensed only on excessive terms relative to the reasonable budget for the film; the use is no more extensive than is necessary to make the point in question; the film does not rely predominantly or disproportionately on any single source for illustrative clips; the copyright owner of the material used is properly identified.

Adapted from Clearance & Copyright, 4th Edition by Michael Donaldson using guidelines established by the American University publication, Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use.