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-   -   Using an existing company's name. (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/38795-using-existing-companys-name.html)

Teague Chrystie February 2nd, 2005 10:15 PM

Using an existing company's name.
 
Hey guys. Don't get the chance to post here often, but I'm always impressed at the maturity of this message board, especially over other filmmaking boards I've seen. Onto my question.

For my upcoming indie feature, called 'So There's This Really Hot Girl At Target,' (...the name is a reference to the movie, I swear, it won't be as stupid as it sounds...) the word 'Target' is a reference to the chain of stores, Target. And a chunk of the film takes place in a Target.

I can get access to the store simply by smiling to enough managers, that's easy...but I have composers and non-union actors working on this project simply so it'll be easier to do the black-and-white when it comes to selling the picture. The problem is, where do I start getting clearance on the name 'Target?'

I *COULD* change it to a ficitional store name, but I'd almost rather face the reprecussions of using the name illegally. The 'Target' aspect is a long story, but it's imperitive to lock in the very large built-in audience I'm shooting for.

Thoughts?

I appreciate it, keep in touch and take care.

Bob Costa February 2nd, 2005 10:44 PM

I would start with an attorney. Getting access to the stores is not the same as getting a location release, and you could find yourself with a movie you can't show to anyone. Likewise talent releases, etc.

As for using the name Target in your movie title, get a good entertainment attorney. Certainly this could be somewhere other than Target also? I know that is your first choice for undisclosed reasons, but flexibility gives you negotiating power, and you could possibly get the store (Target or someone else) to pay you for "product placement" in their movie. There seem to be a few of these "super-commercials" at present, so the groundwork has already be laid. A good attorney will help you thru this area, get you more serious consideration, and probably get you more money as well. Never beg for permission when you can sell a benefit instead.

It's not just the name Target, its their trademarked logos, possibly uniforms, copyrighted store signage or displays, etc. Find a good attorney early. It could be a profitable decision.

And here are a couple of interestng links for you.

http://www.mmiproductplacement.com/
http://www.vistagroupusa.com/target.htm

try a google on Target Product Placement for more stuff to read.

HTH

Teague Chrystie February 3rd, 2005 11:07 AM

...hmmmm. Anyone have any other options? The film is ultra low-budget, $2,000, and I'm gonna avoid lawyer costs where I can, accordingly.

Richard Alvarez February 3rd, 2005 11:43 AM

Teague,

John just gave you some excellent advice, and some links to relevant information.

You just said you want to avoid lawyer's costs where you can.

You've already made your decision to shoot at a store and NOT use a recognizable name or logo.

By your own admission, you don't have the money to incur the rights up front, so you definately don't have the money to squander in defense afterwards.

So your answer is pretty clear at this point.

Rhett Allen February 3rd, 2005 11:49 AM

Consulting with an attorney may not be as expensive as you think especially if you consider the possible ramifications. To pick up the phone and call an attorney is free. I have had pretty good experience with this. I usually expect to pay about $150 for a sit down consultation with one but have actually had a few not even charge me for that. It's good PR for them in the future because eventually you WILL need an attorney and who are you going to call? The nice guy who helped you before!
Legal fees are something you need to budget for because as John pointed out, you could end up with either a film you can't show or a big fat lawsuit. Entertainment attorneys would also have a better grasp on the "commercial prospects" of a film like this and would be much more effective at finding ideas for you, even for acquiring potential funding (to help pay future legal fees).

What you need to consider is that, while you may have the managers approval to shoot there, I would bet THEY don't have corporate blessing and if this (film) got out, you would be in some pretty hot water. (imagine all the products and copyrights in a store you would be showing without permission).

Spend the $150 bucks or so and talk to an attorney.

Teague Chrystie February 3rd, 2005 05:26 PM

Pointedly said, Richard, sorry to have offended you.

$2,000 is the maximum amount I'd conceive spending on this, current projection is around $500. This is nothing near a 'big project' for anyone other than the involved. (For us, it's obviously quite an undertaking - but I'm expecting fewer than 10,000 downloads, unless a miracle happens.)

I simply have taken every other measure to insure legitimacy that this picture is my own, and figure that the last step to being able to sell it on DVD is get the Target clearance.

I can't re-imburse my actors, composer, crew, etc., for their time on my budget - they're all doing it for fun, exposure, and experience...but a feature isn't something that you'd want to ask someone to do on good-will alone.

See where I'm coming from?

John Britt February 3rd, 2005 05:53 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Teague Chrystie :

I can't re-imburse my actors, composer, crew, etc., for their time on my budget - they're all doing it for fun, exposure, and experience... -->>>

Well, imagine how unhappy they'll be when they don't even get any exposure because Target won't let you distribute the film in any way. I'd be very unhappy if I offered pro-bono work in exchange for exposure and credit, only to find out that the producer/director can't do anything with the finished product. I think you owe to the people who are giving you their time for free to make sure that all your ducks are in a row, otherwise you are wasting their time...

Dylan Couper February 3rd, 2005 06:22 PM

I wonder, you should be able to shoot inside there with the managers permission, and distribute the DVD, as long as you don't use the logo, right? It could take lots of post production work, but you could concievably remove the logo everwhere you see it and replace it with a fake one of your own design. I'm not sure if this is legal, just throwing it out here for the more legally experienced people to chew on.


Of course, there are lots of other product logos inside a store like that to watch out for, but you can shoot around almost anything.

Richard Alvarez February 3rd, 2005 07:18 PM

No offense Teague - just pointing out what you already expressed. Showing/using the Target name and logo will require licensing and permission. Doing that correctly is probably going to cost you some money, having an attorney draw it up, or look it over. In the best case scenario, you can ask Target if they will hand you some sort of agreemant they might have on hand. (Though I doubt they will have something for this). If they do, then you won't have much choice but to go along with whatever the terms are.

There is a philosophy used a lot in guerrilla filmaking - "Easier to get forgiveness than permission". I've used this approach before, but NEVER when my exposure would be that high. It's a risky choice to roll the dice on this. Only you can decide what level of exposure you are comfortable putting your cast / crew and the store manager under.

K. Forman February 3rd, 2005 08:23 PM

You might want to try Wal-Mart. The name is more recognizable, and they are whores for publicity. I have seen at least two movies that used Wal-Mart heavily in the story.

Or, you could try K Mart. They're pretty desperate about now ;)

Boyd Ostroff February 3rd, 2005 10:18 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Keith Forman : Or, you could try K Mart. They're pretty desperate about now ;) -->>>

Funny you mention that. It really surprised me that K-Mart allowed them to shoot a scene from The Hebrew Hammer in their store (or a set which depicted a K-Mart...

Regarding Teague's situation, I think there's also a bit of a moral issue here as well. By your own admission using Target as a setting adds value to your movie
Quote:

The 'Target' aspect is a long story, but it's imperitive to lock in the very large built-in audience I'm shooting for.
It seems that this isn't much different than using some copyrighted music in a film. You should get the store's permission.

Dennis Vogel February 3rd, 2005 10:50 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Keith Forman : You might want to try Wal-Mart. The name is more recognizable, and they are whores for publicity. -->>>

All the more reason not to give it to them if you ask me.

Good luck.

Dennis

Dylan Couper February 4th, 2005 12:54 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Keith Forman :

Or, you could try K Mart. They're pretty desperate about now ;) -->>>

All the cool people shoot at S-Mart these days...









(I hope someone gets this.)

Teague Chrystie February 4th, 2005 02:47 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by John Britt :
Well, imagine how unhappy they'll be when they don't even get any exposure because Target won't let you distribute the film in any way. -->>>

I don't wanna seem twice over-offended, but it sounds like you think I'm lying to my crew.

Online, on filmmaking boards full of filmmakers who would hear my composer's work and potentially hire him...seems ideal. And he's well aware of the level of exposure, and stipulations. My actors are from a local theatre, they're in it for experience more than exposure.

Provided I don't make money off of it at all, I have that as a crutch for legality - nobody's profiting. They can send a C&D, but that's about it. As far as I've read, anyway - I looked into that a bit.

In response to what Dylan Couper said, that's something I'd like to see addressed. I can change the title of the film and any instance of the logo in the movie, and have the characters just SAY the word 'Target.' How does that affect me?

And as to Keith Forman's comment on Wal-Mart...

...seriously?

John Britt February 4th, 2005 03:10 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Teague Chrystie :
Provided I don't make money off of it at all, I have that as a crutch for legality - nobody's profiting. -->>>

Actually, that's not a crutch at all. Don't fool yourself -- You can get pulled into court just as quickly even if you don't do it for money. There are examples of this happening, maybe Paul Tauger can stop by and share some with you...

And I don't think you're lying to your crew, I just think you owe it to them to make sure you do everything on your end to ensure you can distribute this movie. And, no offense, if "I'm not going to make a profit" is the best defense you've come up with, then you're not really doing your work. Take the good advice offered here and shell out the $100-$300 for a consultation with an attorney.

EDIT: Sorry, that sounds ruder than I meant it to. It just seems that you obvously know that there is a potential problem, but you are looking for answers on internet forums instead of from a lawyer. But lawyers always have better answers about the law...


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