Post Magazine

July 2013

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and clearances, has extensive experience licensing stock footage and stills for cable docu-reality series. Most recently he has obtained aerials for the title sequence of A&E's Barter Kings and numerous clips of downtown Los Angeles for transitions in Bravo's new Eat, Drink, Love series about the city's food scene. Downey also worked on Spike's Manswers survival guide for men magazine-style show during its four year run. Stock footage wrapped around interviews and recreations serving as B-roll and playing the part of "the extra actor" in answering quirky questions for the network's young male demographic. Manswers had to "lock and deliver nine shows in six weeks," Downey recalls. "So there was no time for original shoots for everything. During Season Three there was no time built into the schedule for my work either — within 48 hours I had to get all the stock material into post with all the legal issues cleared." Given this time pressure, developing relationships with stock footage libraries "is critical," he says. "With tight deadlines you need them to have your back. It's not just about the money: You have no time." During the run of Manswers Downey whittled down a pool of 21 vendors he knew could fill his needs to six libraries he used on a continuing basis. "I knew they could provide footage fast. If there was a crunch I could call the account exec and say, 'Can you help us?'" Footage Bank is one of Downey's preferred vendors for its wide range of offerings and ability to narrow the field for rapid TV turnarounds. "Footage Bank always knows what I want," he says. "Other vendors may have good content, but they're cumbersome to work with. I don't have time to look at 30 clips. But Footage Bank knows the personality of the show I'm working on and knows its collections and will send 10 clips that work." Like the Smithsonian Channel's Karma Foley, Downey likes to ask if a stock footage library has anything he hasn't seen in online searches? "Sometimes we gain access to offline collections" that way, he explains. Since time is of the essence Downey can typically download the footage he's licensed for quick ingestion in post. "Footage can be treated so it morphs right into a show," he says. "There are ways to mix stock content — even historical footage — into shows so it looks like it belongs." With vendors trying to stay as competitive as possible, Downey is seeing new stock footage companies emerging that offer royalty-free content. While royalty-free material can often prove to be a fast, hands-on, comprehensive resource, Downey cautions pro- ducers to learn if usage extends "across the board" for all productions or applies only to certain shows. "There's a difference between buying royalty-free under an entertainment license and buying for a specific network show," he explains. "You have to be careful about where you want to place it." STORM SOLDIERS & NRDC The independent documentary feature, Storm Soldiers, which is now in post production, looks at the linemen who fix power lines — a heroic undertaking that many people in increasingly storm-ravaged parts of the country have come to value. "We look at who the linemen are, where they came from and where they're going — in the next five to 10 years almost half of them are scheduled to retire, and there's no influx of new talent," says director Brad Kremer (, who's based on Tybee Island, Georgia. Kremer dispatched camera crews to document linemen at work across the country, and he recorded the continuing travails of those affected by Superstorm Sandy. But he also relied on stock footage of Hurricanes Katrina and Irene to support the narrative. "I talked to some news agencies with stock and did some research online and found StormStock, which had exactly what I needed, all under one roof. StormStock set the stage to tell the story." Kremer estimates that 70 percent of the footage he licensed from StormStock was what clips I needed, and they sent us a batch to review," Kremer recalls. "Out of that first batch, we used 80 percent of the shots. They were spot on." Hurricane footage — during and after — also played a key role in a series of spots for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in which trustee Robert Redford addresses the issue of coal-fired power plants as the single biggest source of global warming pollution. The spots, which air on television and online, are designed to put pressure on the Obama administration to act unilaterally if Congress refuses to move on legislation. "The spots remind us what's at stake by depicting recent extreme weather events," says Daniel Hinerfeld, director of NRDC Films ( "I've looked at the holdings of StormStock a number of times, and their focus on this topic of extreme weather is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for us. StormStock seems to do a terrific job working with storm chasers and others who are in the wrong place at the wrong time and have the wherewithal to document what's going on. I have great respect for cinematographers who are able to keep their wits about them and do great artistic work under circumstances where they are often in jeopardy." NRDC Films produces short documentaries for TV, TV and Web ads, and promotional videos about the institution. "We're able to shoot some or a lot of the material we need, shot during the hurricanes, while the balance documented their aftermath. "We got everything from flooded streets and big surf crashing over piers to linemen working on downed lines in heavy winds and the destruction of homes and businesses," he says. "I think we have roughly two minutes of stock in the film." As a cinematographer who's made many snowboarding films, Kremer tries to capture all he can in-camera. "But for cost and accessibility, I always have stock footage in my back pocket," he says. "I'm ready to use it as needed." StormStock's focus on extreme weather obviously offers what most cinematographers or directors couldn't hope to capture themselves. "I gave them bullet points of but we almost always round out projects with stock footage. We don't have the resources to commission photographers, so we really depend on stock houses," Hinerfeld says. In addition to the hurricane footage, NRDC Films also licensed some "beautiful aerial footage of power plants that we couldn't shoot ourselves." He finds database search tools have gotten pretty good and enable them to initiate searches themselves. But StormStock personnel were invaluable in "narrowing down what we were looking for. Stock footage was a very valuable resource that helped us tell and show a story that Americans need to hear and pay attention to." Brad Kremer called on StormStock for footage for his indie documentary Storm Soldiers. Post • July 2013 31

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