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Old March 11th, 2005, 10:52 AM   #1
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Over zealous actor

Hi.

I've recently finished a short film which is currently being submitted to festivals etc.
I wanted to get some thoughts and opinions and find out if anyone has experienced anything like this before and whether I can and should do anything about it.

When I finished editing it I sent copies out to the cast and crew; one of the actors emailed me suggesting cuts here and there. Out of courtesy I had a look at the edit and examined what he thought needed changing and I decided that I was happy with the edit as it was and told him that I wouldn’t be changing it.

When I initially sent out copies of the film I did so on VHS, as I didn’t have a DVD Writer at the time. He then asked for a copy on DV so he could add it into his showreel and maintain good quality. I didn’t really want to send out a master copy but since the actors worked for free they'd probably see me as being a bit ungrateful if I said no.

I noticed on his website that he had a new showreel online so I had a look to see what parts of my film he’d included. I was a bit shocked to see that he had re-edited the scene in question to the way he suggested to me because he obviously thought he knew better.

Further to this he let it slip that he has been making copies of the film, I have no idea to whom he has been giving them, for all I know he could be sending it to film festivals and competitions without my knowledge. He’s also used music from the film on his showreel without a word to the composer or myself.

Of course he could just be proud of the film and want to “get it out there” and his intentions might be completely innocent. What are other people opinions on all this?

Do actors normally re-edit material for their showreels? Do you guys send out master copies if you are asked for them?

I’d be interested to hear any thoughts people might have.

Thanks

Tony
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Old March 11th, 2005, 11:03 AM   #2
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Oh dood, that ain't cool. He shouldn't have re-edit it...technically it sounds like you own the entire thing and didn't give him expressed permission to re-edit it. At the very least, he's publically showing it without permission...not good. That is messing with your rep. He was told that he could pull pieces for a reel...not re-edit sequences differently.

First, I'd tell him that you'd like him to publically take it down...forever and and everywhere. If he needs an explaination he's a jerk. But, give him the main reason...it's your film and he has no rights to it other than the final cut version you make. The second thing...if he refuses and wants to keep it up I'd demand that there is a disclaimer on the clip saying it was re-edited for the sole purpose of showcasing his acting ability. It's NOT the final cut of the film. Then I'd make him provide a link to where people can see the real version online or where to buy the film.

That's my 2 cents!
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Old March 11th, 2005, 12:44 PM   #3
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Tony
I had a similar situation happen to me on a current project, an overly zealous and under experienced actor showered me with short sighted and self severing story ideas for the editing room; I’m trying to be gracious and not put the smack-down. I am no legal expert but did you have the talent sign a photo release? I would imagine if you are the sole creator of this story then it is your intellectual property and he has no business tampering…its like coming home to find that your neighbor has repainted your house more to his own liking. Not cool at all.

I try to be professional in these situations even if it is a one-way street, if he does not respond to you pointing out the obvious problems with his infringement then you can begin to explore legal avenues.

There is no substitute for respect.
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Old March 11th, 2005, 02:08 PM   #4
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Either way, I would have him remove the clips, and return ALL materials. If he wants a clip for his reel, provide him with a short clip. As for the composer, he has every right to demand satisfaction for the unauthorized use of his music.

If you Wanted to be more persuasive, I'm sure you could throw a dart at the phonebook, and find an attorney that would suggest litigation.
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Old March 11th, 2005, 03:26 PM   #5
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Yeah i got all the actors to sign a release basically saying that they grant me to use their performance and likeness in the project and that i retain all rights etc etc.

A friend of mine said that it sounds like the actor thinks he is the producer and is trying to "steal" the film.

So far i havent aired my concerns to him but i think i need to say something before it gets out of hand. I got an email from him saying he has registered the film with the cannes market, like a sales agent or producer would do.


Have actors demanded master copies from any of you guys? What is the best way to deal with people like this? I'm not in a position to get legal as it would cost too much and he probably knows this.
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Old March 11th, 2005, 04:13 PM   #6
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Tony,

It's obvious this guy needs a slap in the face back to reality. If he signed a release that says you own it flat out 100% - he's illegally using your work. It doesn't matter if it hasn't made money/

Also, the fact that he's taking your film to Cannes without your knowledge? Come on...this guy is a rouge actor and needs to be stopped before someone gets hurt! lol...at least before any of us accidently work with the jerk!
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Old March 11th, 2005, 04:31 PM   #7
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Okay, at first when I read this thread I thought...wow, some people are really overreacting. I mean, the guy is just trying to show off his skills, so is it really that big a deal?

Then you posted this:

"I got an email from him saying he has registered the film with the cannes market, like a sales agent or producer would do. "


Now I see I was dead wrong, and everyone else was right.

You need to stop what you're doing, right now. Stop reading this thread... and go talk to this guy.

Right now.
Before he does something else without your knowledge or permission.

That is insane.

There is no reason for there to be a big fight over this, I mean, the guy is being ridiculous, and you have all the logic and facts in the world on your side. This is your film, not his, and he has no right to do anything with it other than watch the copy you gave him. I'm sure he won't take it well, but there is no reason for you to have to pound the table or make any sort of threat (legal or otherwise).

I realize it might be an uncomfortable situation, but think about how much easier it would have been to deal with this BEFORE he registered with Cannes. Who knows what else he's going to do?

Actors have never asked me for a master copy.
I've always given them DVDs (or VHS in the 'good ol' days')

Did this actor show any signs of wanting to take control before the shoot? or during the shoot?

I have a hard time believing that this came completely out of nowhere. Generally, whenever I've second guessed whether or not I should work with someone, it turns out my gut was right and I wind up regretting having worked with them.

Needless to say, don't work with him again.
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Old March 12th, 2005, 06:37 AM   #8
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during the shoot he was quite keen to second guess what i was shooting or say "why dont you shoot it like this"

He's sent me an email today asking for money towards the cannes registration, only £20 but thats besides the point.
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Old March 12th, 2005, 12:33 PM   #9
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"He's sent me an email today asking for money towards the cannes registration

My God this guys got some nerve!

What are you waiting for?
This is what I meant when I was saying talk to him immediately before the problem gets worse.

Now he's asking you for money?

I'm flabergasted.
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Old March 12th, 2005, 01:03 PM   #10
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I've emailed him and got a response, he didnt like it but hopefully it can be sorted out now.

thanks for everyones comments
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Old March 12th, 2005, 02:57 PM   #11
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Love to hear your email and his response.
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Old March 13th, 2005, 05:45 AM   #12
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In the future it may be wise to just give the scenes or shots in
which he can show of his or hers "performance"? That way they
can never use the raw material to re-distribute your movie. I
think he or she has the right to re-cut it to fit there reel, as long
as it contains there acting and not other parts of your movie
(therefore, don't give out the whole piece).
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Old March 15th, 2005, 04:47 AM   #13
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One more quick legal note:

One of the rights reserved to the owner of a copyright is the distribution right. The actor has committed copyright infringement by submitting the film to Cannes.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 08:46 AM   #14
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"I've emailed him and got a response, he didnt like it but hopefully it can be sorted out now."

Just my two cents, but you might be better off talking to him as opposed to doing it all over email.

It's much too easy for miscommunication to occur over email than it is in person. And in a case like this, where people's egos are coming into play, it would probably be more efficient to talk face to face, that way there is less of a chance of anyone taking something the wrong way.

Like I said, just my 2 cents.
The important thing is that you be able to sort this out as quickly and simply as possible.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 10:06 AM   #15
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Tony, maybe I missed it. But did you send out the master copy. I surely hope not.

If so he can or anyone could turn around and sell the project. You might have to look into some legal advice.

All I can say is do it quick. Don't be Mister Nice Guy, this guy could sell off your film before your eyes.

Just a little story. My cousins moved to Vegas and became friends with some people who made a feature. The associate producer run off with all the elements one night and he sold them to a Japanese company.

It took them six years to get the film back. The Japanese company didn't want to give it up because they paid for it. They claimed since the guy was an associate producer he had the right to sell, which of course he didn't.

And of course there's illegal copies floating around with hurt them in sales.

So hopefully you didn't give out the master and stop this dude right now.
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