For the short documentary we are producing for the Creating Hope Society in Edmonton, Canada (Aboriginal Fathers Love Their Children Too). We are trying to get as many sides of the story that we can, but being a sensitive subject matter not everyone we want is able to speak on camera.
When I thought of contacting a prominent First Nations Child's Rights Advocate in Ottawa for an interview, I thought "No way this will happen, she is wayy too busy". I sent the email but to my surprise I was contacted a few days later by her office stating that she would be in Edmonton, and she would have a whole afternoon for us to interview.
After we conducted the interview, my co-director Karhiio presented her with a gift (out of respect I won't say what) that is considered sacred to First Nations People. She was very honoured and thanked us for it.
For Aboriginal Day Celebrations in Canada, I went down to the Alberta Legislature where they were having some festivities, and I noticed some inter tribal dancers lining up to dance (pictured at the top of the page). I recognized the organizer of the event so I ran over and asked him if it was okay to film them dancing, so he said "I'm sure, but ask them as well". So after he introduced me I approached a few of them, told them what the project was about and asked if it was okay (I gave my card as I told them I would show them the results later) and they were all very nice and understanding and granted their permission.
Now of course always be concerned with "release forms" and such, but when you are working with cultures from all over the world, it may help to do some research before hand about customs and protocol. Talk to people and don't be afraid to ask questions.
9 times out of 10 if you ask they'll understand, and chances are you may learn more than you can imagine.