Advertising Film Personal Rights Employees and Actors

We, the UNEM-Filmproduktion, are producing commercials for companies and institutions for over 10 years.
Often the performance of employees, who participate in industrial films, are misjudged by the entrepreneurs. Quite often there is a lack of communication regarding the tasks which an employee as an actor has in a commercial.

Communication is important

There are only advantages announcing the shooting to your employees, because the better everyone is prepared, the better the result!

Tell your employees what you are planning. Only then your “Actor” can optimally prepare for your new promotional film. For example, make a deferred hairdressing appointment, put on special work clothes or prepare the work area for the day of shooting. This saves you time and costs during the shoot. Employees who are involved, think ahead that not only enhances the filmic result enormously. Your employees who act as performer, possibly want to prepare themselves for the filming and think through the consequences of their appearance in advance. It is also important to tell, where the film is used, because it always helps spreading it for example when employees show their performance in the new commercial to friends and acquaintances. Then the film is optimally used as a viral marketing tool. After all, the entrepreneur wants to show this film to as many viewers as possible, too. These communication services as part of a film production are the responsibility of the management or marketing. With good communication the shooting can be optimally prepared.

Written consent can be useful

Let’s start with an example. You have one of your employees as an actor in a product film. 3 years after the production of the film, the employment relationship with this employee ends. Then he asks you, that you immediately delete your quality product film from Youtube in which he participated as a performer. He will retroactively withdraw public use of the filmic work, citing the right to one’s own picture. This can be expensive if the entrepreneur has to produce a new movie or makes changes to the film.
A written consent without restrictions of all employees featured in the film is therefore advisable. Because it does not expire automatically at the end of the employment relationship [1]. Later cancellation is possible, but requires a plausible reason.

Do not rely on luck alone

In the public sphere, the filmmaker gets more and more frequently in a legal gray area concerning image rights. A risk which needs to be minimized for example by being
announced by the organizer of public events that a film production takes place and its purpose, if the audience is used as “performers”.
In fact, if someone is an “actor” in a released film, and has not given written consent for the participation he can demand the deletion of that video. This also applies to impressions documentary films, which are often used for tourism promotion, for example, where guests are filmed on a beach and thus become actors. Closeups or medium shots should always be filmed with people who have given their written consent for the shooting.
An exception is made for subjects such as a city panorama. The view is the main subject, the people promenading are “insignificant accessory”. But this applies only if no close-ups of people are made.


Professionals rely on models / actors for your advertising film

In order to have more security, the entrepreneur can let us book models and actors – thus working with professionals in front of the camera as well.

Here the precise contractual arrangements regarding use and duration in the intended channels such as Youtube or TV is a standard process.
This means that professionals always stipulate the conditions of their appearance so that the subsequent use of the finished film work is clearly defined.
For contracts it is important to squarely negotiate the duration of the image copyrights.
Models and Actors rarely give their image rights temporally and spatially unlimited.
The limitation of use should be at least 5 years. The reasons for a time limit on image rights are quite pragmatic. The Models do not want to permanently exclude the option of a subsequent booking or new booking. If a career change is pending, the duration is clearly regulated by the treaty.

Professional film production

Professional film productions do not rely on luck, but have knowledge of the law. Do not rely on half-truths, ask for advice. It’s about fairness of all parties involved in the production of a film and about the planned success.
Do You Have Questions? We provide non-binding competent advice regarding a commercial film production for your company.


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25524 Itzehoe

[1] Source: Pressemitteilung Nr. 8/15 Bundesarbeitsgericht
„Veröffentlichung von Videoaufnahmen eines Arbeitnehmers – Einwilligungserfordernis“