Short Film Pre-production phase. A very big project with an obstacle... HELP! - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old January 25th, 2009, 03:12 PM   #16
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On a short film I made, we tried to clear a Star Wars poster for a character's bedroom with Lucasfilm and it was turned down. I suspect, since your plot revolves around their character and a one of the key images/props from their films you may to clear it with them rather than Paramount. Since it sounds key to your plot, rather than a passing reference, and it sounds like you want to do more with the film than putting it up on U tube this could be a consideration.

With all location issues you need contact the people involved, asking here doesn't answer the question if you can film on their lot. As is the case with these things, the worst they can say is no and you should discuss any union issues as part of this process. They may charge you a small fee to cover any costs with their personnel eg the security guard or the PR minder. We had to do this when filming at an airport departure lounge.

BTW We cut the scene in the bedroom, it didn't make much sense with the replacement NASA poster.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #17
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make the phone call. Never be afraid of the phone. Keep making the phone call 'til you can talk to someone who is the "right" person to talk to. Some folks may just try to get you off the phone, but at least one person there will be interested in what you're trying to do... even if it's only to buy/steal the idea from you :)

You should write the script and worry about the rest later... then copyright the script as your own work so that when they take the idea, you can say that it's your idea for a plot and they need to buy it from you. The idea is yours, the physical representation and rights to distribution of the properties are theirs. :)
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Old January 25th, 2009, 05:38 PM   #18
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You can't copyright an idea, only the tangible expression of it.
(Its entirely possible that someone here could write a script based on the 'idea' that the arc of the covenant in the movie, is the REAL arc of the covenant - and it would be THEIR version of that idea... it wouldn't be 'stealing'.)
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:02 AM   #19
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You can't copyright an idea, only the tangible expression of it.
(Its entirely possible that someone here could write a script based on the 'idea' that the arc of the covenant in the movie, is the REAL arc of the covenant - and it would be THEIR version of that idea... it wouldn't be 'stealing'.)
I think that's fine, it's more how much of the trademarked elements you wish to use in the short. Has this particular design of the Ark been protected by the producers and do you intend to use their design in the short?

How do you set up the idea in the first place without using visuals from the Indiana Jones film? You can say it, but story wise it's not as strong as the short film's main character making a connection directly with the Jones film.

There's a feature film that has two boys running from home pretending they're Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The feature film had to show scenes from the western as the kids identified with those two characters in the cinema otherwise emotionally it wouldn't work. Not having a strong connection means that the need that going to drive the story will be weakened to the detriment of the film itself.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 08:42 AM   #20
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Write the script... Register it. Worry about the rest after that, no problems are insurmountable! They may be a hassle, but if the story ends up strong enough, you'll find supporters and it sounds like a neat story to me. Once the script is registered, you can work on the legal issues on e at a time and that can be done by getting financial backing, then hiring a lawyer, then getting permissions to use stuff (could be by purchasing permission to use it).

Everyone here gives the impression that the legal issues with your story are so insurmountable that there's almost no point trying. Do it anyway, the world runs on money, if your script brings brand recognition in a positive light that can make more money for the franchise, they will negotiate terms. Simple business fact. They can't stop you from writing the script and registering it... if you don't, you can't do anything else you're worrying about.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 12:26 PM   #21
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Just note that "registering" a script with the WGA or the Copyright office is simply a third-party timestamp, showing that a piece of material existed in a certain form at a certain time. It provides you no legal protection at all in terms of copyright or Trademark violations -- either from someone ripping you off or you being charged with ripping off someone else.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 12:24 PM   #22
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Thanks for everyone's input. The script is being worked on. As location is important to the script, we'll write the script with the thought of having permission. Once we are ready, we'll contact Paramount and see what they say.

If Universal allows to shoot on their lot, maybe we can change the story around a bit, haha. Time machine anyone? ;)
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 02:08 PM   #23
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Thanks for your incite. As you listed, there are many elements to think of. This is a project that we only will do with their blessing so to speak because it's based around them. If it's shot down, we'll stick it on the back burner and make our Sci-fi zombie alien movie instead, haha. Or we can always take the same concept and change it to a different movie and try with a different studio... perhaps... Universal and the time machine in Back to the Future, haha.
What I love most about independent low-budget filmmaking is that it requires every once of available creativity to make a film, and that's where the wheat gets separated from the chaff.

The challenge isn't "How can we get a studio's permission to make our film", but "How can we make our film in spite of obstacles". The problem with using Paramount (or any other studio) isn't just insurance and unions and permits, but also trademark. Even if you tell them your film isn't going to make any money, they still have to pay lawyers to draw up the contract giving you permission to use their logo (or name, or location), and it's money down the toilet for them. From a business standpoint it's not worth it for them.

You need to find a lot that LOOKS like a studio lot - remember, filmmaking is a prestidigitation act, nothing is ever as it seems (that's why they built a mock-up of the Titanic instead of trying to bring up the real one). Give yourself and your crew a huge break and forget trying to deal with Paramount, or with any trademarked IP.


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Old February 3rd, 2009, 02:13 PM   #24
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We'll write down a list of questions such as the situation with the union, trademark, etc... My co-worker's brother is in the union. He's an electrician on various TV shows (I think he currently does Reno 911), if someone from the union is required, maybe I can speak with him to help us out.
As soon as you deal with unions your budget skyrockets. You have minimums to pay, deductions, contributions, etc. There's a reason ultra-low-budget productions are all non-union.

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A friend said a friend of theirs filmed a TV commercial on the lot and Paramount let them do it for free and only requested mention and credit.
I find it hard to believe that Paramount would let anyone film a commercial for free. A commercial is, well, a commercial venture, i.e. it makes money.


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Old February 3rd, 2009, 05:16 PM   #25
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As soon as you deal with unions your budget skyrockets. You have minimums to pay, deductions, contributions, etc. There's a reason ultra-low-budget productions are all non-union.



I find it hard to believe that Paramount would let anyone film a commercial for free. A commercial is, well, a commercial venture, i.e. it makes money.


j.


I spoke with a Union person and they said if the budget is under $300,000 which ours is WAY under, haha, you don't have to deal with the union.

Once we're ready we'll talk to the studio and see what they say. Never hurts to ask. I appreciate everyone's feedback. It will help in preparing so when we talk to them.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 07:31 PM   #26
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I spoke with a Union person and they said if the budget is under $300,000 which ours is WAY under, haha, you don't have to deal with the union.
That's good. It also means you can't hire union folks, but it sounds like you already have your crew.

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Once we're ready we'll talk to the studio and see what they say. Never hurts to ask. I appreciate everyone's feedback. It will help in preparing so when we talk to them.
Keep us posted, we'd all like to see how this pans out. But don't let your project hinge on this. If they say no, welcome the challenge to find a way around this obstacle.

I'll often watch a low-budget feature, even when they're bad (and a lot of them are) just to see how they managed. Kevin Smith got permission to shoot "Clerks" inside the store at night when it was closed, but would have had to rent expensive lights to simulate daylight coming in through the windows. Instead he wrote in a short scene about losing the key to the shutters and they left them closed. They saved thousands of dollars.

I did a zero-budget short where I got permission to shoot for free on a cafe terrace but there was no way we could stop traffic on the busy highway. So we added a few well-placed car horns in post and the passing cars became part of the story (an obstacle to two people trying to communicate).

Creativity, imagination and innovation. Those three qualities are worth more than any budget.


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Old February 4th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #27
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That's good. It also means you can't hire union folks, but it sounds like you already have your crew.



Keep us posted, we'd all like to see how this pans out. But don't let your project hinge on this. If they say no, welcome the challenge to find a way around this obstacle.

I'll often watch a low-budget feature, even when they're bad (and a lot of them are) just to see how they managed. Kevin Smith got permission to shoot "Clerks" inside the store at night when it was closed, but would have had to rent expensive lights to simulate daylight coming in through the windows. Instead he wrote in a short scene about losing the key to the shutters and they left them closed. They saved thousands of dollars.

I did a zero-budget short where I got permission to shoot for free on a cafe terrace but there was no way we could stop traffic on the busy highway. So we added a few well-placed car horns in post and the passing cars became part of the story (an obstacle to two people trying to communicate).

Creativity, imagination and innovation. Those three qualities are worth more than any budget.


J.

Thanks. I will keep everyone posted. We'll spend time developing the story to the point we're very happy with and get everything in order. We've decided we'll shoot it on the RED Scarlet camera which isn't released yet. We hope to be ready by the time the camera hits the market.

In the meantime, we'll be shooting a short horror/thriller called, "The Message" in LA.
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