By Chris Misun, Meridian, Miss.
Approaching topics featuring special-needs children comes with special requirements, tasks, and careful planning. When producing a multimedia piece featuring those children, a very important part is obtaining the proper permission to photograph and/or videotape the child. Approaching the parents of the child and providing them with a Video Release or Appearance Release Form, which is defined as “…a simple contract that gives you legal permission to use the image of the person who has signed the form for commercial and noncommercial purposes,” according to WebVideoZone, will help you gain the rights to use the image and likeness of that child in your publication.
Often times the forms can be as simple as these examples from Kino-Eye or as complicated as MTV’s Standard Real World cast-member contract released by The Village Voice Blog. The contract from MTV has evolved over time due to past incidents featuring cast members and the way they were portrayed as featured in an article by Jezebel.
Knowing your rights, as both the producer and the subject, are important to maintaining a positive relationship and helps to keep a solid understanding of what the intentions of the production will ultimately be. As mentioned in the examples above concerning The Real World, cast members have attempted to sue MTV on being portrayed in a “false light” or appearing to have acted different out of context.
In an upcoming multimedia project by Misun Media, we will be discussing the pros and cons of new technology for teaching special-needs students. At Northeast Elementary School in Lauderdale County, Miss., special needs teacher, Alison Misun says, “Parents are given a form at the beginning of the school year giving them the option to allow their children to be videotaped or photographed during the year by the local TV station, newspaper, the teacher or other approved groups by the school.” The local TV Station, WTOK and newspaper, The Meridian Star is required to contact the school before arriving. Misun says, “We like to give the parents a heads up as to when a news media is coming to the school.”