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Taking Care of Business
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Old March 18th, 2004, 10:26 AM   #1
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short story

There is a short story that i really like by a well known writer. I really want to shoot a short film of it. i have contacted the writer and he asked about what i had in mind as far as money and my film credits...needless to say, once i gave him the low down, he stopped returning my emails. so, i want to make it anyway. i do not want to make any money off of it, i just want to make it. i guess once its done, if its any good i would contact him again and see if he will let me show it around at festivals or whatever...

anybody see any potential problems i that? i must stress that i do not want to make any cash from it, just a good film.

Thanks
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Old March 18th, 2004, 10:40 AM   #2
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I think you're running a risk not worth taking. What if he sells the rights to someone else? Then you've got a film you can't use. Even though you don't plan on making any money off of it, the writer probably does and an unauthorized film floating around might hurt his chances at doing that.

At the most, I would write the script from the short story and try and show it to him, then see what he thinks.
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Old March 18th, 2004, 10:51 AM   #3
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Don't do it

Don't do it. What if your film does become a great success and he comes in and shuts you down at the pinnacle of your opportunity? He can have all of your material taken from you and you wouldn't even have anything to show in private.

Also think of it from the writer's point of view. What if you do a bad job and you've spoiled the market for his story. What if he is already in negotiations with another party. That could wreck those negotiations.

As a writer, I would be furious that someone asked my permission and then went ahead and did it anyway after I said no.

Write your own script or hookup with an aspiring writer. There are many out there.
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 08:39 PM   #4
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Yes, all valid points. i will keep nagging the guy, maybe he will give in, or file some sort of restraining order.

Thanks!
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 02:01 AM   #5
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I would have thought that if the film was being made for purely personal 'growth' and absolutely no financial gain and was not being showed publicly without permission then what has the writer got to be upset about?

Anyway, from what I read in the preceding posts, the writer hasn't said 'no' or that he was upset; he just hasn't responded to email.

Surely this is like making a fan film? As a writer, I would be (privately) flattered.

But, if you showed it outside your living room, I'd sue the air out of your lungs, for the reasons Keith & Philip give.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 02:17 AM   #6
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//Surely this is like making a fan film? As a writer, I would be (privately) flattered.//

Until you saw how terrible it was. It could be so bad that it makes the subject matter laughable and so degrades your own property.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 02:24 AM   #7
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There's nothing more heartbreaking than being rejected for lack of money or reputation.

When Lucas couldn't get the rights to Flash Gordon, he wrote STAR WARS. When Spielberg was refused a chance at directing an installment of the James Bond franchise, he helmed the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Come up with your own story. You may find you end up transcending your inspirational material.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 02:27 AM   #8
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You're quite right, Keith.

What I meant was I would privately be flattered that someone was prepared to invest their own time, effort and cash in making a film of one of my stories purely for their own personal entertainment because they liked the story so much. If it's trash, it's trash, but if no-one's ever going to see it other than the filmmaker, who cares?

But I stress again, if ever it *was* seen outside the filmmakers four walls, they would be hunted down and executed. Sort of.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 02:35 AM   #9
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Robert, personally I absolutely agree with you (and Keith, and Philip) however I think that Rich is saying he likes this story so much that he just wants to make a film of it - not for profit, not for fame, not for kudos but because it's this story and he likes it. Period.

I would argue that (if he can afford to) he should go ahead and get this one off his chest, learn from that experience then create an original piece that borrows from it (a la Flash Gordon/Star Wars and Indie/Bond).

But personally I still totally agree with your point!
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 12:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
anybody see any potential problems i that?
Short answer: you can't. Period.

Copyright protection is absolute when it comes to the rights reserved to the copyright owner. One of these rights is the right to prepare derivative works. If the owner said you can't, you can't. It doesn't matter whether you make money or not. It doesn't matter if you don't exhibit it publicly. It is copyright infringement to _make_ the film.

I'm active with an organization that works with musical theater composers, lyricists and writers. I can't tell you how often someone will spend _years_ writing a musical based on a book or movie for which they can't get the rights. There must be several dozen adaptations of Catcher in the Rye floating around that will never see the light of day (the Salinger estate is notorious for not allowing any adaptations of any kind).

Quote:
I would have thought that if the film was being made for purely personal 'growth' and absolutely no financial gain and was not being showed publicly without permission then what has the writer got to be upset about?
Sorry, but you thought wrong. By making the film you will have prepared a derivative work. THAT is infringement. If the copyright owner wants to get nasty about it, you could be sued and found liable for statutory damages (up to $150,000) JUST for having made the project, before you even do anything with it.

Quote:
Surely this is like making a fan film?
All of which are illegal derivative works, unless the underlying work is in the public domain (a few films are at this point).
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 09:31 PM   #11
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The writer never said no...just never returned my emails. For all i know, he never got my replies...maybe i should try to find him through other means.

"There's nothing more heartbreaking than being rejected for lack of money or reputation."

Tell me about it Robert! I've spent alot of time this week and last trying to convince somebody, anybody to let me shoot 3 shots in a high rise in downtown l.a. Everyone wants $5000 a day, and 2million worth of insurance. im not making a 100million dollar hollywood movie! its an ART film! i'm incredibly frustrated with this town. i cant even walk into a super market with my slr camera without the manager flipin out.

sigh...

anyway, as for the short story, i will move on, and maybe someday i'll get a response from the writer. even a NO would be nice. the only good thing is, if it ever happines, that the whole short would take place in a jungle/field, so no one trying to hit me up for cash.
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Old March 24th, 2004, 12:26 AM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rich Lee :
Tell me about it Robert! I've spent alot of time this week and last trying to convince somebody, anybody to let me shoot 3 shots in a high rise in downtown l.a. Everyone wants $5000 a day, and 2million worth of insurance. im not making a 100million dollar hollywood movie! its an ART film! -->>>

Telling them its a student short sometimes works the best. Sorry to drag you off topic briefly.
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Old March 24th, 2004, 12:46 AM   #13
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Checked out your web site, Rich. Nice portfolio of renderings; especially like the Minotaur and, uh, Pasiphae. What renderer?

Impressive previz résumé as well; my only complaint is that I can't read it all because my monitor isn't high enough resolution to get to the bottom of the pop-up.

If you haven't sent a reel of your films by mail to your author friend accompanied by an effusive letter, why haven't you?
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Old March 24th, 2004, 01:20 AM   #14
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Thanks Robert

glad you stayed around the front page long enough to see the little honey...there are 2 (3 sort of) if u look hard enough....

All the 3d stuff is rendered in mental ray, using either softimage 3d or XSI. most of its a bit dated, from when i was first learning the whole 3d thing, actualy, the whole computer thing for that matter. Sorry about the popup, i just fixed, should have a little scroller on the side now.

Yes, well, when i first contacted the writer, it was fall 2002, before i had shot anything, was thinking that his story would be the first thing. kinda glad that it wasnt, cause i have learned alot in that time. anyway, before i send him anything else, i want to finish up 2 more things that im working on, a short film and a music video. very excited about the music video concept, not your standard performance vid, has a bit of funky story, should be fun. as soon as i get those done i will send them over to him.
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Old March 24th, 2004, 03:21 AM   #15
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Well, it looks like Paul put us straight on this one!

I really didn't know that fan films were illegal. That's a real shame.

Thanks, Paul, for clearing the whole thing up.
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