Dear Mik and Mike: I am a musician living in the very international community of Arambol Goa India. I read your column regularly. Last night I was playing at a party and there was a Russian couple, (a man and a woman) with professional film gear filming the musicians. I came late to the party and when I joined in playing the cameraman swooped in on me. It made me very uncomfortable. I tried turning my back to him but then he came around the other side. Finally I waved him off with my hand.
I was uncomfortable because I did not know what he was going to use the film for and also, he did not ask me first. Usually I do not care when it is amateurs filming but recently I asked a German guy at a jam session for a copy of me playing and he would not give it to me. He said he would and I even went to his house, but he never had it ready. I feel if someone is going to film me playing at least I should get a copy. What do you think?
Anyway, back to the Russians. After we were done playing I told the Russian that he should ask me before he films me. He said, “it is for my movie, I film all over the world people drumming, it is for the community, blah, blah, blah”. Like this somehow made it right. I repeated, “You should ask me first”. He kept making lame excuses glorifying himself. Finally he said, “Well I asked Joe”. I repeated, “You need to ask ME first before you film ME!” Why can he not understand this?
We live in a society, in a world where people constantly want to take, but don’t want to give, or give back. I think if someone is going to take photos of you or video then you should get copies. That is perfectly legitimate. And on filming: Always ask permission before you do something! If in doubt, ask! In terms of good and bad, right and wrong, the Russian is clearly wrong. I do not want to be racist or make blanket statements, but I will. I find the Russian people I have met traveling to have boundary issues. What I mean is they do not respect other people’s boundaries. Maybe because they are so happy to be out of the constraints of their crowded cities. Meanwhile, you can simply stop playing and or leave if you do not like what someone is doing when you are playing.
You must originally be from the US. Here we have all kinds of “rights”. Copyrights, intellectual property, we have to sign releases if people want to use our images, and we get to sue or cause trouble if someone crosses us. Somehow I don’t think other cultures take the subject as seriously as we do. If you’re going to travel and but up against people from other countries, especially people involved in the arts, and you’re not a superstar, then my advice to you is to just roll with it. The stress just isn’t worth it.
Photo by Dey Alexander