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Paula Byrden from Film & TV Clearance talks to IFTN
01 Mar 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Film & TV Clearance are specialists in script and legal clearance for film and television productions. Here, we talk to founder Paula Byrden about what her company has to offer.

Founder Paula Byrden is a veteran of the film and television production industry with over 20 years’ experience. Prior to specialising in script and legal clearance Paula worked in a variety of roles in production and script development with a number of production companies including Samson Films and Carlton Television. She also worked on a freelance basis for many film and television productions based at Ireland's Ardmore Studios but has set her sights on legal clearance and writing copy for art department graphics since 2005, founding her own company in 2012 and in her own words she has “not stopped working since”. So, she must be doing something right.

Film & TV Clearance may be a relatively new company but your own experience in the industry is extensive to say the least. Do you think your background in differing roles in the industry equips you to better understand what your clients are looking for?

Paula Byrden: “I mainly worked on the production side of things throughout the years but I also studied art history. This gives me somewhat of a unique advantage in discussions with production art departments, and I understand how difficult it is when you are working on a tight budget trying to find suitable material without having to pay expensive licensing fees. If necessary I help negotiate licensing rights at minimal cost and arrange the execution of an appropriate license agreement, but I also often help in finding royalty free images for use in film and television productions – saving money when budgets are tight! Obviously sometimes there is no way to avoid paying a fee but I can often suggest alternatives. Having spent a lot of time on production sets, I realise the lengths that set decorators go to in order to achieve realism so I do quite a lot of work getting product placement just right and like to think I have a pretty good record in obtaining rights to use brand name products, not only from today but from periods as far as back as the 1800s!”

Tell us a little about the services you provide?

“I provide script clearances in the form of neg-checking whereby I check the scripted inclusion of character names / places / references to companies and businesses etc. I also provide standard clearances whereby I get permission to use trademarks or brand names and investigate whether an image can be used or not. In addition to that I provide a product placement service for which I source products on loan for film and television productions – everything from special edition Irish whiskey to technology from industry's leading companies. I also write copy for art department graphics.”

What is the strangest product you have had to clear recently?

“Well, I’m not sure if strange is the right word – I get asked to clear everything from drink brands to American baseball team jerseys to tampons! Requests are typically urgent of course and often have to be turned around in a day or two. In my product placement work in the recent past I’ve been asked to find a private jet and a severed horses head within 24 hours, tasks I’m happy to say I was able to complete!”

You also write copy for graphics – how did you get involved in that?

“A little by accident to be honest! I studied journalism and worked for an Irish newspaper before going into film production. While working on clearances on a BBC production a few years ago I happened to suggest some edits to an art department historical document linked to an image that I had been asked to clear. That led to a request to do some more writing, and one thing led to another – I then ended up doing most of the copy for graphics for the next three series of that production!”

What do you like best about your work?

“Funnily enough it’s the challenge of achieving accuracy, especially in productions set in the past. Whether clearing product / brand names from the applicable era or writing copy, I’m very conscious that today’s audiences (with their fingers on the pause button!) demand absolute historical accuracy – and so art departments are under more pressure to provide it. I am always amazed at the volume of traffic on Twitter and other social media during and after the airing of television programmes – and at the minute details that viewers pick up on. I’ve had to create a wide variety of documents including love letters, title deeds, court papers, tide tables and newspaper articles from specific years in the late 1800s and enjoy the challenge of online research to ensure historical accuracy, not only in the content, but the language and mannerisms used. I’ve even had to compile an inventory for an African exploration in 1890!”

Tell us a little about your 2016 so far?

“I started my company in 2012 and haven't stopped working since, which is a great achievement in our industry! So far in 2016 I have been working on series four of ‘Ripper Street’ for Tiger Aspect, the ‘Jack Taylor’ series for Netflix, and ‘A Storm in the Stars’ for Clairmont Films. I’m also working on product placement for an upcoming lifestyle programme due to shoot in Ireland this summer. Last year my major projects included ‘Penny Dreadful’, ‘Ripper Street’, ‘IT’, ‘The Lobster’, RTE’s ‘Rebellion’ and ‘Tomato Red’.”

What do you think makes Film & TV Clearance stand out from your competitors?

“In a nutshell I think my tenacity and follow up get results! It is far too easy for a clearance coordinator to make a vague effort to clear a product, not bother to follow up and then report the brand as not cleared. I understand how frustrating it can be for the art department and set dec to hear that the products that they wanted to use in a particular shot cannot be used – so I pride myself on my successful track record in getting the clearances that my clients want. I have a large network of contacts that I call on to turn clearance requests around in very tight timelines and I am very flexible in relation to work arrangements – I know that film production days are long and I don't leave my office at 5pm!”

For more information on Film & TV Clearance, visit www.filmandtvclearance.com/.




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