What is the purpose of the film?
According to the proposal for the film, the goal is “to produce a short miniseries that examines race and equity and their impact on the quest for racial parity at Oak Park River and Forest High School….This documentary aims to look at the history of a struggle that goes back several decades, and the efforts to confront it in the present on the part of administrators, teachers, and students and their parents.”

Why did the Board of Education approve filming at the high school?
The Board heard extensive public comment about the film, from both those in favor of it and those against it. In discussing whether or not to allow filming, the seven members of the Board expressed a variety of opinions and perspectives. (To see the minutes of the two Board discussions, please click here and here. To see the complete proposal, click here.)

Among the reasons in favor of allowing the film, the Board discussed:

  • A renewed sense of urgency around addressing racial disparities in our school and community
  • The need for a more widespread discussion about these disparities
  • The possibility that OPRF’s story can contribute to the national conversation about race and race-based educational disparities
  • The power of film to tell our story
  • Confidence that director Steve James will be respectful, fair, and balanced and that he will portray the complexities of the challenges OPRF faces with integrity
  • The opportunity for OPRF students to work on the film crews

Is the high school receiving any compensation—financial or otherwise—for its participation?
No.

Won’t filming a movie during the school day be disruptive?
Avoiding disruption of the school environment and protecting student privacy were paramount to the Board agreeing to the film. After putting many questions to co-producer/director Steve James and co-producer John Condne, the Board felt confident that the footprint of the filmmakers in the school will be very small, with only two, or at most three, people on a film crew. Teachers must consent in writing before a crew will be allowed into their classrooms, and even then, filming will not be a daily, or even necessarily weekly, occurrence. Our expectation is that after a brief flurry of attention at the beginning of filming, the cameras will become a little-noticed part of the background.

How are subjects for the film being chosen?
Mr. James and Mr. Condne have been in conversation with a variety of faculty and staff members about possibly appearing in the film. When it comes to students as possible subjects, in order to abide by student-privacy requirements of the Illinois School Student Records Act and the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the filmmakers may not approach students directly, nor may faculty and staff refer the filmmakers to specific students. Doing so may inadvertently reveal aspects of a student’s history or record that should remain confidential. Instead, referrals and requests to interview a student must be made by either the student or by the parent/guardian.

If you want to recommend your student, please contact Steve James (steverjames@att.net) or John Condne (jcondne@condnefilms.com). Faculty or staff who wish to suggest a student should contact the student’s parent or guardian, who then should be the one to contact the filmmakers.

Will I be notified if my student is the focus of filming, has a substantive speaking role in the film, is enrolled in a class with a student who is the focus of filming, or is enrolled in a class of a teacher who has given written permission for filming?
Yes. Notices will be issued to the parents/guardians of all students who are the focus of filming, have a substantive speaking role in the film, are enrolled in a class with a student who is the focus of filming, and/or are enrolled in the class of a teacher who has given written permission for filming.

In addition, under the terms of the contract, the filmmakers must obtain a signed release from the parent/guardian of any student who will have a substantial presence in filmed areas, including but not limited to: (1) students who are the focus of filming; (2) students who have a substantive speaking role; and (3) students who are enrolled in a class with a student who is the focus of filming, whose parents/guardians have opted out of having their student’s image identified by signing the District’s Using Articles, Photographs, and Recordings with Students waiver. Parents/guardians of students who will have a substantial presence in filmed areas will be provided a form from the producers entitled Agreement to Allow Student to be Audio-Video Recorded During the School Day for their consideration.

If you do not return a signed Agreement to Allow Student to be Audio-Video Recorded During the School Day form, then arrangements will be made to ensure that your student does not have a substantial presence in filmed areas. Such arrangements may include revising seating assignments so that your student is not seated near the student who is the focus of the film or restricting filming to a particular area of a classroom. 

Please note that even if you have signed the District’s Using Articles, Photographs, and Recordings with Students waiver, your student may appear as an unidentified student in the background of filming that takes place in common areas (e.g., hallways, the Student Center, the Field House during a spirit assembly, etc.).

How do I opt out of my student being identified in the film, or in any District article, photograph, or recording?
Please sign the Using Articles, Photographs, and Recordings with Students waiver and return to Communications Director Karin Sullivan via email or regular mail (ksullivan@oprfhs.org or 201 N. Scoville Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302). Alternatively, you may “sign” the waiver electronically by logging into your Family Access account. Go to Student Info > Request Changes for [NAME; upper right side] > Student Information > Media. Then check the “No” box. Ms. Sullivan will receive notice that the permission has been changed.

What if I want to opt out of having my student identified in the film or in any District article, photograph or recording after school starts?

You may still do so. We simply are trying to create as comprehensive an opt-out list as possible at the beginning of the school year.

What if I don’t want my student to appear in the film at all, even if he or she is in the background and/or not identified?
The filmmakers are not required to obtain releases for students who appear in the background in common areas of the high school, such as hallways, the Student Center, the Field House during a spirit assembly, etc. In addition, per OPRF’s Using Articles, Photographs, and Recordings with Students waiver, permission is not required to film unidentified students, even in a nonpublic area, such as a classroom. However, the filmmakers will make every effort to accommodate such requests, which you should note on the signed Using Articles, Photographs, and Recordings with Students waiver before returning it to Karin Sullivan.

How can faculty and staff opt out of appearing in the film?
Faculty and staff automatically are opted out of being identified in the film or having a speaking role unless the filmmakers obtain a written release. The filmmakers will not film any class or in any classroom without the teacher’s advanced written permission. (To see the producers' film release for adult participants, click here.)

What about informal groups of teachers talking in the cafeteria or hallway? 
Film crews will not be roving through the building capturing footage without first obtaining advance permission from Communications Director Karin Sullivan. If and when such filming occurs, faculty and staff will be notified in advance. 

Should faculty and staff, parents/guardians and students assume that all school events (e.g., assemblies, sporting events, etc.) will be filmed?
Yes.

Will faculty and staff receive a filming schedule?
We will try to ensure that faculty and staff are aware of filming being done at larger school-day events, such as a spirit assembly or the Tradition of Excellence Awards. For filming being done in classrooms, clubs, activities, etc., we will work directly with the faculty and/or staff involved to arrange a filming schedule.

What is the filmmakers’ access to community groups using the high school?
Filming non-school groups is not expected, nor is it allowed without express written permission from such groups.

Will there be any filming off campus, such as at students’ homes or in public places?
Yes, most likely.

Will there be any filming over the summer?
The filmmakers were permitted to begin filming at the school once the contract was approved in April, and they are likely to do some filming before the first day of classes.