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Indie Birds – Photo Requirements for Indie Films – Record Keeping, Deliverables, and Media Submissions



Keeping track of thousands of photos, identifying participates, and writing captions is usually the job of the photo editor and publicist. On a low-budget feature, there may be neither and the responsibility falls, in part, on the still photographer’s shoulders. This is a difficult and time-consuming task, yet made easier by date and frame tracking when using a digital camera.

vintage-photo-memories - Indie Birds

vintage-photo-memories – Indie Birds

On most photo programs, it is possible to insert information such as to the title, subjects in photo, the photographer, keywords, and captions or comments. By having this pertinent information in the file, the photos can serve the needs of publicity, marketing and distribution, the media, as well as exhibitors. Reference to script scene number is also helpful.

Being able to find a particular photo quickly is essential and it is helpful to establish some sort of filling system. By filing shots according to previous mentioned categories, then folders can be set up for a certain segment of that category. In addition, keep the folder size under the CD or the DVD disc capacity you are using. In this way, it is easy to back up or hand off files in folders once the production is completed. Likewise, a master index indicating type, subject matter, and location is extremely useful for quick and easy retrieval. Three-ring binders containing proof sheets are also a required item at the completion of a film. They serve as a quick reference and useful when photo approval is required. Print digital photos using either the proof sheet or wallet-size computer programs. A commercial lab can also print these digitally.

vintage-photo-memories - Indie Birds

vintage-photo-memories – Indie Birds

Archiving photos for retrieval and safekeeping is a major task. First off, digital hi-definition photos take up considerable computer space. Storing them on disk or an external hard drive is one solution and solves the handoff once the film is completed. For the production executive and/or the distribution company, backup files need to be compiled. There is always that likelihood they will be misplaced, lost, or corrupted and having a digital backup file avoids many a problem before the crisis strikes. One can also use one of the many cloud services for storing digital photo files.

Photographic Approvals. Depending on their power, the film’s stars may have contractual approval rights on still photos and slides before they go to the photo editor for distribution to the press. If this clause is in their contract, then set up some procedure to get the materials to them and do so periodically throughout the shoot. By waiting too long, you will not have a supply of approved photos for important media contacts during the shoot. In addition, you may loose your actor and have to track him down off the set.

Contracts usually specify approval of a certain percentage of the photos approve, normally 50%. Each studio or independent company may have their own set of rules on this as well as a method to keep track of “kills”. In most cases, the actor uses a grease pencil and marks an “X” across the rejected shots on the proof sheet. With slides, it is best to have the actor place a small “x” on the corner of the slide they reject. Provide a loupe (magnifier) for easy analysis of the proof sheets as well as slides.

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