Filmmakers Forum Mission

This website is a resource for filmmakers who produce, commission or distribute documentary films, feature films and television programs based on real-life crime.

Crime victims who are dealing with the filmmakers who wish to use their stories can also find resources to help them understand what they can expect from their participation. This project was launched by filmmakers working in this genre, who were interested in learning how to be more sensitive to the crime victims affected by their programs. These resources have been put together as result of a series of meetings with leaders in the film and television field who care about this issue.

This project is funded by the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice and implemented by New York Women in Film & Television in collaboration with the International Documentary Association.


True crime/criminal investigation documentary has been and continues to be among the most exciting and successful genres. We are endlessly fascinated by the unraveling of mysteries, the twists and turns of forensic investigation. Most producers of documentary television have at one time or another delved into this form. Practically every network airing non-fiction programming has at least one strand that focuses on true crime. And as any network executive can tell you, the audience for these programs cuts across virtually all demographic sectors, young and old, male and female.

The Questions

What legal rights do victims or the families of victims have to their stories?

What legal or ethical obligations do filmmakers have to inform victims/victims’ families of the production of a film involving their stories?

Do victims/victims’ families have any rights regarding the content or point of view of films containing their stories?

What are the liability concerns of filmmakers working in the true crime genre?

Is there any way to forestall the sometimes acrimonious reactions (and occasional legal actions) that result from the use of true crime stories in television programs and in feature films?

This site is meant to help answer these questions and to aid filmmakers who want to be aware of crime victim concerns in the stories that they are telling.

This project was supported by Grant Number 2004 VF GX K010 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, coordinates the activities of the following program offices and bureaus: Bureau of Justice Assistance, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime. The opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

website hosting & design
Pixel Marsala