We offer several types of filming release forms and templates for film contracts available for download. You can browse our downloadable release form templates by type below. We provide release form templates for all kinds of needs.
Fictional (Scripted) Film Film Release Forms
Filmmakers making fictional films need film release forms for a variety of reasons. Some of these are film contracts between actors and the producer (aka talent release forms), some of them are work for hire templates for crew.
Documentary Film Release Forms
Documentary filmmaking comes with its own set of specific release forms that filmmakers need. For instance, personal release forms (documentary interview release forms), archival materials release forms, event/background release signs, release forms for minors, etc. These cover the filmmaker and establish that they have proof to record footage and use it in their film. We offer a release form kit specifically for documentary filmmakers to bundle all these different types of filming release forms together.
Why is Using a Film Release Form Important?
It’s important to use film release forms for a variety of reasons. First, they serve as film contracts that establish clearly from the outset in writing that the people in your film are agreeing to participate. This might sound ridiculous but that’s important because in the case of documentary filmmaking it can prevent lawsuits later on or in the case of fictional filmmaking they can establish clearly what an actor is getting paid and avoid disputes afterward.
A film release form can also be extremely useful in case your film gets picked up by a distributor who wants specific paperwork protecting them from liability. Even in cases where a lawsuit would be extremely unlikely, the requirement of having signed release forms has caused more than one indie documentary filmmaker to be unable to broadcast their work on television or indie film from being acquired by a film distributor. Film release forms take just a moment to get signed and can protect you from quite a lot of heartbreak and trouble later on.
Read more about these issues in our article when do you need release forms for filmmaking and videos?
Tips for Using Film Release Forms
It’s a good practice to tell everyone that you will need them to sign a release form from the get go, ideally well before the shoot day. Then you can remind them on the day of the film shoot “Here’s that release form I told you about that you’ll need to sign.” That way you won’t catch anyone off guard about having to sign paperwork with legal language on it.
We recommend getting release forms signed as soon as people arrive on set. Whether you’re making a documentary and you’re shooting an interview and you need a personal release signed from the interviewee or you’re an indie film producer who needs to get release forms signed from actors, it’s good to get them out of the way so nobody changes their mind (or more likely, forgets to sign it).
Things to Keep in Mind About Release Forms
- Minors under age 18 will need to have their parent or legal guardian sign their release form for them
- It’s important to understand the release form language in case you get asked about it
- Anyone can sue anyone else for anything; a release form doesn’t prevent lawsuits, it only diminishes their likelihood and protects you
Frequently Asked Film Release Form Questions
Here are some common questions and misunderstandings about release forms for filming:
Do I need release forms from absolutely everyone in my film?
In a fictional film, we’d say an emphatic yes. Even background actors or extras that aren’t in focus.
In the case of a documentary, legal opinions differ but ideally you at least you want to get release forms from anyone who speaks on camera. Some lawyers may say that it’s less important to get release forms from people in public because they have no expectation of privacy being in public. In our opinion, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and getting a release form signed only takes a moment in most cases.
What should I do with all these film release forms once I’ve collected them?
First, organize them into a “show bible” or binder of all your important documents. Next, make sure to have multiple copies of each one and ideally digitally scanned copies as a back up. 99% of the time you won’t need to do much of anything with them again but in that 1% chance you might need to refer to them, there’s no worse feeling than knowing you *got* a release form from someone but you just can’t find it.
What are the different types of release forms for filmmaking?
A talent release form is for actors to sign as a type of film contract agreeing to be in a fictional film. These usually mention the amount of money they’re being paid in addition to releasing their rights to have their image and likeness reproduced in the film and any associated advertising.
A crew release form or crew deal memo is what film crew members sign to agree that their work will be treated as a “work for hire” for copyright purposes and outlining their participation in the film.
A location release forms is what a building owner signs agreeing to let filmmakers (usually making fictional films) shoot on their premises on a particular date. This is a specialty release form that is useful in case of liability reasons mainly.
A personal release forms is what a real person participating in a documentary film signs to show that they agree to be in the film and to be interviewed. These types of release forms are also usually required from other participants in the documentary, even if they don’t sit down for a formal sit down type interview.
An archival release form or property release form is what a person signs to allow documentary filmmakers use their personal photographs or video recordings as part of the film. This is a specialty release form that some broadcasters and distributors may require. Sometimes it’s also known as a materials release form.
Where can I download release form templates?
This website offers downloadable film release form templates and waiver templates for both documentary film and fictional filmmaking.