Yesterday, Beyoncé began her full-on assault on Super Bowl weekend by releasing a new song and video, dubbed “Formation” and set in New Orleans. Though Beyoncé’s releases tend to go off as meticulously as her choreography, the release of “Formation” hit a snag when filmmaker Chris Black wrote on Twitter that the music video used footage of New Orleans from a 2013 documentary short he produced called That B.E.A.T. without consulting anyone involved. The short’s director, Abteen Bagheri, also chimed in, writing, “I’m not mad. It’s the sad reality of the music business. Doesn’t affect my friends’ and my work, but not cool.”
Black told the Fader that he and Bagheri received emails asking for permission to use That B.E.A.T. footage on Friday from another director, Lily Keber, whose work also appears in the “Formation” video. They did not give her a definitive answer, as they did not own the rights to the footage in That B.E.A.T., which was produced by Nokia in partnership with the Sundance Channel. Black and Bagheri tried to reach out to Nokia, but the employees who commissioned the footage were no longer at the company.
Still, in a statement from a representative today, Beyoncé’s team claims that the footage was obtained through the proper means, which means discussions with the Sundance Channel and likely Nokia:
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.
The video’s director, Melina Matsuokas, gave credit to the filmmakers on Twitter as well. In a later email, Bagheri wrote that, “It seems they’ve given us credit now, which is all that was important to me.” He also tweeted a thank you to Beyoncé and Matsuokas.