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A guide to translating release forms

release formWhenever you film abroad, no matter how remote, you still need a release form to ensure your production is covered legally. These important documents have to be signed by anyone speaking on camera or the owner of a property you’re filming – without one your whole project could be jeopardised. 

During pre-production, it’s crucial your release forms are translated correctly. With the help of translation agency Kwintessential, here are some important factors you need to bear in mind:

The most common release forms needing translation are:

1. General release: for non-acting contributors
2. Talent release: for actors
3. Minor release: when a legal guardian or parent signs on behalf of a minor
4. Location release: if you wish to photograph or film a property

What are some of the factors you need to think about when using a release form abroad?

Plan ahead

Always give yourself enough time to complete the translation. An agency can usually translate 2000 words per day but you should allow extra time for internal reviews, feedback and amendments. Remember the translation is dependent upon the original so allow time to get it 100% correct.

Local expertise

It is always worth getting advice, legal or otherwise, on differences in the law for each country you plan to film in. For example, the age which defines a minor is not always the same. Other laws or rights may nullify your release forms so it’s crucial you do as much research as possible to make sure you’re covered.

Which languages?

The countries in which the release forms will be used, and by whom, will determine the language (s) into which it will be translated. Some territories have several official languages, such as Belgium or Switzerland, whereas others have linguistic minorities, such as Turkmen speakers in Afghanistan. Also be aware of regional differences within a language (for example the Spanish language used in South America is not always the same as the one spoken in Spain).

Use professionals

Remember, release forms are legal documents; your aunt who happens to have lived in Turkey for example isn’t the right person to translate one - make sure you use a qualified professional translator or use an accredited agency.


Look out for things like dates, currencies, times, etc. which may be different in the target destination. It’s important that your release form makes sense to the person signing it and isn’t confusing.

Use TM

When filming abroad it pays to work with an agency that can apply Translation Memory (TM). This software stores translated documents and allows you to automatically translate new sections. This will save you time and money in the long run.

Certification of translation

It might be necessary to prove to local authorities that your translation has been carried out by a professional. Check if this is a requirement before you set off. Most agencies can certify their translations as official documents.

Have you ever come across any difficulties when using release forms abroad? Let us know by commenting below or by visiting our Facebook page.

Special thanks to Kwintessential for compiling this guide. 

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