Paramount Pictures Makes Licensing Easy

If you’ve ever worked on a clip show, or any show that requires lots and lots of clips from movies or television you know the search can be painfully slow and expensive.

When producing a clip based show, you have ideas of what clips would work but unless you actually see the footage in the rough cut, it’s a gamble as to whether or not they will work in your story.  Typically, you’ll have your researcher, associate producer, or production assistant contact the studios to inquire if the footage is available for licensing, send a letter of intent and then pay for a screener.  The screener will usually arrive within a day or a week depending on how many other orders the one studio person assigned to rights and clearances has to fill.  If you’re in a hurry, be prepared to plead with said studio person on the phone hoping he or she will understand that your project is more important than any other order.

Meanwhile, back at the production offices, the producer and the editor are ‘pacing’ the edit room wondering where the heck the footage is because the story their telling depends on whether the footage will work, and of course they won’t know that until they see it.  When the screener finally arrives, it’s got the biggest visual time code embedded into the clip to ensure you don’t ‘steal’ the footage.  The clip from the screener won’t be replaced with clean footage until everyone has signed off on the rough cut, and if your delivery deadline is approaching you may just be biting the last of your finger nails waiting for the clean footage.  It takes time to get a clean copy of the footage, rights have to negotiated with the studio and with each actor that appears in the clip, contracts will need to be signed and in some cases the studio will have to pull the original footage out of a vault just to get a print made and duplicated onto a format you need.

As you can see, in a production if you’re using clips you practically need a department devoted to securing clips and obtaining the rights and clearances. That’s why I was happily surprised to see that Paramount Pictures has decided to make the process easier.  I don’t believe it was out of sense of altruism, but rather due to declining DVD sales and poor box office revenues. I’m sure someone said, “Hey we’ve got a gold mine in the basement vaults, let’s make the process easier and make some money.”

By logging onto, you can search for the exact clip you want with the licensing parameters you need.  Once you’ve located the clip, press the checkout button and you’re done. Paramount will electronically deliver the selection in the format and resolution desired. Most scenes are available in multiple languages.

I love when companies use technology to make the process easier.

What kind of technology makes your production work easier?