Who owns the footage? And can we see the rushes?

Who owns the footage? And can we see the rushes?

Two questions where the answer is not always as clear cut as you might think.

Who owns the footage? When we produce commercial work for a client we always work under the assumption that anything we’ve been paid to supply belongs to the person or company who pays us.

Quite simply, so far as we’re concerned, if we’re making a film for you, then all of the footage belongs to you.

Which all seems pretty straightforward – but not every video production company works like that.

The fact is, legally – and unless any contract states otherwise – the copyright on footage and the final film belongs to the video production company and not the client.

Whilst that may be true in law, it doesn’t seem to serve the best interests of our clients.  We’re always being asked by clients to supply footage we’ve shot for TV use or to our client’s partner companies – and we’ll always help when we can. Sometimes that can be time-consuming and we need to charge an admin fee – but when we can we’ll do it for nothing and (unlike other companies) we don’t often insist on the footage being credited to Nova.

 “Who owns the footage?” legally, we do. Morally, you do. And we’re sticking to our morals.

So can we see the rushes?

Oh, here we go…This one always causes eye-rolling at Nova…

When a client asks for the rushes they generally mean all of the footage that was shot to produce a film – and it’s so much more easily said than done.

I’ll explain why…

When your friendly camera operator is shooting, they need to… er… ‘fart about a bit’ before they get that all important wow moment. You don’t just switch the camera on, point it and bang, it’s done – there’s light, exposure, depth of field and composition to be sorted first.  It’s a craft, daaaahling. And then there might be changes that mean the whole shot is abandoned or re-shot.

So when we get back to the office and capture all of the clips, what we actually have to get through is a load of wonky, zoomy, too dark/too bright/nothing happens type-of-stuff before we reach the golden moment that will make it to the finished film.

And not only that, but there’s loads of it – a two-minute film with interviews and B-roll is likely to be around 100GB – and if you really want to see the rushes then all that will need transferring to a hard drive.

So in answer to the question “Can we see the rushes?” we’d generally ask “Do you really want to have to wade through all of that?”.

Hopefully, by then the client has thought of better uses for their time.

But if you really want to see the rushes… if you’re really, really sure…