Beyoncé Clarifies Dispute Over “Formation” Video Footage
After filmmakers said a Beyoncé video used their footage without permission, Beyoncé’s team replied: “The documentary footage was used with permission and licensed from owner of the footage. They were given proper compensation.”
On Saturday, Beyoncé dropped a new song and video, "Formation." Beyoncé lies on top of a New Orleans police car in the video, which was directed by Melina Matsouaks, and also features an appearance from Blue Ivy Carter.
Hours after the video's release, filmmaker Chris Black wrote on Twitter that the clip sourced footage from a 2014 documentary short he helped produce called That B.E.A.T., which centered around NOLA's bounce culture and was directed by Abteen Bagheri.
Doc director Bagheri chimed in minutes later. "I'm not mad," he wrote on Twitter. "It's the sad reality of the music business.
The FADER reached out to a representative for Beyoncé, who responded with the following statement:
"The documentary footage was used with permission and licensed from the owner of the footage. They were given proper compensation. The footage was provided to us by the filmmaker's production company. The filmmaker is listed in the credits for additional photography direction. We are thankful that they granted us permission."
Melina Matsoukas, the director of "Formation," also acknowledged Black and Bagheri's tweets, thanking them for the footage which made her video "whole." (A rep for Melina Matsoukas, was not immediately available to comment.)
On Saturday, Black told The FADER that he and Bagheri received emails on Friday, January 29, which asked for permission to license That B.E.A.T.'s footage. Black said the emails came from another director named Lily Keber, whose NOLA documentary footage also appears in "Formation." Black and Bagheri did not give a definitive answer, Black said, because they didn't actually own the footage, which was commissioned by Nokia in partnership with Sundance. Black said he could no longer reach the Nokia employees who commissioned the footage, because they were no longer with the company.
Black said he did not not intend to pursue legal action and didn't believe Bagheri would either. "All we want is respect and credit," Black told The FADER over email. "They don't know what we sacrificed to make [the film]. They just came along and took it without crediting us."
"I love Beyoncé," Black continued. "I still think she's dope and I have no ill will or feelings towards her or anybody but at the end of the day we have to respect other filmmakers who are working just as hard... Why use the footage from the doc we did? She has a larger budget than we did and they gave no credit to the filmmakers. If I hadn't said anything about this would you have known where it came from?"
In an email to The FADER, Bagheri said, "It seems they've given us credit now, which is all that was important to me." After the statement from Beyoncé's rep and the shoutout from Matsoukas, he tweeted: "Thanks for the credit."