Indiefilmlaw's Blog
Ideas, Inspiration and Legal Resources for Artists, Filmmakers, Producers and Film Students

Feb
02
NEWS
Jewocity.com (press release) (blog)
Sundance 2016: 17 most anticipated indie films premiering at the festival

Sundance Film Festival 2016 gets underway today and it is set to be put some great independent films from all around the world in the spotlight.
Huffington Post
The Fellowship Of The Film

Waller: We were this indie film, so you don’t budget to have a two-month scout — you got three days. We just didn’t have the budget, so …
Hollywood Reporter
Film Hawk’: Sundance Review

Behind-the-scenes indie film guru Bob Hawk gets his close-up in Film Hawk, a warm tribute to a man who, for 40 years and often selflessly, has helped …
Noisey (blog)
Mark Duplass Looks Back at the Time He Almost Had a Career as an Indie Rock Star

In some alternate universe, Mark Duplass would not be a name most people associate with low-budget indie films about coming to terms with …
Indie Wire (blog)
Before Nate Parker’s Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett’s 

August 21st, 1831, in Virginia, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion, hoping to inspire a slave uprising in the south. Several dozen whites were killed before …
Mashable
Amazon Studios’ ‘Creative Control’ looks at the dark side of virtual reality

Amazon announced that its second film — Paterson — is being directed by Jim Jarmusch (known for indie films like Coffee and Cigarettes) and stars …
VideoInk
Sundance 2016 Wrap-Up: Streaming Services Come of Age

Shelling out big money for a hot indie film on the festival circuit has never been a safe bet – a recent example being Fox Searchlight’s $12 million …
Hollywood Reporter
Indian Comedy ‘Brahman Naman’ to Premiere Globally on Netflix

The film is written by Naman Ramachandran and co-produced by Celine … Q is considered one of India’s most provocative indie film-makers and his …
The 405
Scene Dissection: Shadows (1959, John Cassavetes)

The films and their directors found in this vein seemingly thrive from the … whereas the abbreviated ‘indie‘ is better to describe those films that follow …
Luxemburger Wort
Mekka des Independent-Films: „The Birth of a Nation“ gewinnt beim Sundance Film Festival

Der Film der iranischen Regisseurin Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami dreht sich um … Zahlreiche Hollywood-Stars waren mit ihren Indie-Filmen vertreten, …
WEB
male actor needed for indie film

MALE ACTOR NEEDED FOR INDIE FILM. no pay. Looking for a male actor 18-25 to play supporting character in a thriller suspense drama.
Dec
03

Small indie films look beyond theatrical release

Livemint

“Most people still don’t see indie films as a viable option,” Mustafa said. “And not many distributors are willing to put money in them.”

25th Gotham Awards put ‘Spotlight’ on indie films

The lovely yuletide indie Christmas, Again gets every little detail right

By contrast, the even tinier indie film Christmas, Again, which focuses on just one NYC tree merchant, offers virtually nothing but authenticity.

 

Indie Film Crew & Some Cast (Day Players, Extras) Rush Call

Craigslist

Hello Everyone! We are currently gearing up to shoot a low budget feature film here in Michigan starting next week.
Jul
19

Lawsuit alleges that idea for “Ted” the foul-mouthed bear was stolen

A production company in California, Bengal Mangle Productions, has filed a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement over the 2012 movie about a foul-mouthed stuffed toy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The lawsuit alleges that Seth MacFarlane Fuzzy Door Productions, Media Rights Capital, and Universal Studios stole the idea behind “Ted” a stuffed animal that lives in a human world, is vulgar and likes drinking, smoking and prostitutes.

In order to prove copyright infringement, one must show copying of the protected elements of a valid copyright. Funky Films, Inc. v. Time Warner Entertainment Co., 462 F.3d 1072 (9th Cir., 2006) Typically, ownership is less of an issue than “proof of infringement,” which involves fact-based showings of “access” to the protected work and “substantially similarity between the two works.

The complaint, made available by The Hollywood Reporter, claims MacFarlane and the other defendants had access because the character of “Ted” was taken from the screenplay for a work called Acting School Academy that features a character named “Charlie” who “lives in an adult world with his human friends and “has a penchant for drinking, smoking, prostitutes.” Acting School Academy was turned into a web series featured on YouTube and iTunes as early as 2009 and the Charlie character had a YouTube spinoff titled “Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear.” MacFarlane’s Ted didn’t play in theaters until 2012.

The lawsuit claims, the “Ted character is strikingly similar to Plaintiff’s Charlie character. Like Ted, Charlie lives in a human world, is vulgar and likes drinking, smoking and prostitutes.”

While on the surface it appears that Bangle Mangle has a viable copyright infringement claim, it is more complicated. The premise of the copyright infringement claim – one that has been completely overlooked by most media – is the assumption that the “Charlie” character is protected under copyright law.

A recent 7th Circuit court case examined the boundaries of protectable story characters in the context of literary works. “The more vague, the less “complete,” a character, the less likely it is to qualify for copyright protection.” For example, “a character described merely as an un-expectedly knowledgeable old wino,” may not be protectable. However, “a character that has a specific name and appearance” whose attributes include “what he knows and says, his name, and his … facial features combine to create a distinctive character. No more is required for a character copyright.” Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. No. 13 C 1226 (N.D. Ill., 2013)

The result in Bengal Mangle Productions, LLC v. Seth MacFarlane, et al. 14-cv-5498 (C. Dist. CA 2014) will no doubt turn on the scope of protection afforded to the bear’s character.

David Adler is the founder of Adler Law Group and practices in the firm’s technology and intellectual property sections. David’s practice primarily involves assisting companies in commercializing and protecting their intellectual property and technology assets. David’s clients range from software companies to film production companies to digital content aggregators. For additional articles on IP, media and entertainment law, visit adlerlaw.wordpress.com.

Apr
10

Meet the Boise Film Underground, a Band of Indie Filmmakers Hard at Work in Idaho

Indie Wire (blog)

Thriving in the burgeoning heart of Idaho’s cinema scene is the Boise Film Underground, a collective of hard-working, independent-minded filmmakers.

Michel Gondry’s next film is about teenage runaways

A.V. Club DC

Michel Gondry’s next film is about teenage runaways … French director Michel Gondry is known for the surreal filmmaking style he applied to … to the world of indie films, releasing the dreamy French romance Mood Indigo.

ECU Film Festival President Scott Hillier’s vision to help filmmakers

Film Industry Network

This year the ECU Film Festival has screened a host of independent films from all over the world connecting audiences of different cultures and beliefs

Jan
19

In a word, captivating!

teeterboard

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In The Beckoning Silence, Joe Simpson–whose amazing battle for survival featured in the multi-award winning “Touching the Void”–travels to the treacherous North Face of the Eiger to tell the story of one of mountaineerings most epic tragedies. As a child, it was this story and that of one of the climbers in particular, that first captured Simpsons imagination and inspired him to take up mountaineering.

Toni Kurz was a brilliant young mountaineer, who along with three other climbers tried to climb the mountain in 1936, which was then the last great unconquered peak in the Alps. Their assault on the mountain started well, but then disaster struck. One by one Kurzs colleagues were killed, leaving him alone, hanging on the end of a rope fighting for his life in the most horrific of circumstances. Over 50 years later in Peru, Kurzs story haunted Simpson as he battled for…

View original post 713 more words

Jan
06

Great post on the need for the Oxford comma. Amazing how such a small thing makes such a big difference.

Squirrel Thoughts

Oxford comma-nistas around the world are having a heyday over a recent push alert sent by Sky News, which they believe is the end-all, be-all argument in favor of their precious punctuation mark.

Comma

Now, let’s be clear: The Oxford comma is necessary in this “sentence” as it’s written. Obviously, there are some pretty serious implications without it. However, this whole “sentence,” if you can even call it that, could be rewritten for clarity, and we would not have been subjected to all this nonsense in the first place. The Oxford comma-nistas would never suggest that though!

See, the purpose of a comma when used in a list is to replace the word “and.” When you use an Oxford comma in a list of three or more items, it’s redundant. You’re essentially writing “and and.” And that’s just silly.

Let me spell it out for you using another famed Oxford comma-nista example:…

View original post 326 more words

Dec
13

News of Paul Walker’s death was tragic and unsettling. As an avid car enthusiast, I am a big fan of the “Fast” franchise of adrenaline pumping car chase movies. I’m sure I join his many fans in mourning our loss.

Which got me thinking about whether the installment of the film franchise in which he was starring, “Fast and Furious 7” would be completed. While producers often commission rewrites in the process of making a film, the loss of a key figure in the story line highlights an often-overlooked component of film production: key person insurance.

As Production counsel, one of the many line items on my task list is a slot for insurance. In addition to general commercial liability insurance, I also counsel clients to obtain “key person” insurance (also known as “key man” insurance) to insure against this exact scenario. This type of Insurance may also protect against loss of other key individuals involved in the production. Like many enterprises, film production relies in a variety of key people – writers, directors, consultants – the loss of whom would have a material adverse effect on the film.

In the case of “Fast 7”, it will be interesting to see how, or if, the project continues since that decision may be up to the insurance carrier, according to a recent Hollywood Reporter article. Even though much of the movie has been filmed, many action sequences have not.

While the current producer, Universal, has indicated its desire to continue the project, the insurance carrier may have the final say. At this point, the financial risks such as costs to edit the script, screen and cast new talent, and finish filming will fall to the insurer. The decision to continue filming in the hope that release of the finished movie will generate enough revenue to offset those costs, is balanced against the decision to end production and write-off the cost of the insurance payout.

Clients sometimes laugh at my over-cautious approach to identifying and protecting against risks in film production. This unfortunate tragedy highlights how real, and unexpected, these risks can be.

If you are planning to produce a film or have already commenced production, feel free to contact me for a free consultation. It’s never too late to take a second look at business structure, contracts and other risk mitigation techniques.

I can be reached at (866) 734-2568 or dadler (at) lsglegal.com

For more information about entertainment law, visit my website.

Aug
04

Girish Kasaravalli Hopeful About Future of Indie Cinema
India West

Asked about the viability of indie and parallel cinema at the box office, Kasaravalli said, “The commercial aspect depends on the filmmaker. He has made a film.

France’s New Film Crew Wage Law Faces Legal Challenge
Hollywood Reporter

France’s New Film Crew Wage Law Faces Legal Challenge From The Association of Film Producers (l’APC), the Union of Independent Producers (SPI) and others.

NYC Independent Film Festival is Gearing Up for Its Fourth Year
Consumer Electronics Net

Theyre a part of the NYC Independent Film Festival. The Fourth Annual NYC Independent Film Festival celebrates the art of filmmaking. Whether made by a …

Indie cinema’s success will boost art films in India: Girish
Business Standard

The Indie filmmakers will get an opportunity to make movies independently. They will try to release themselves from the shackles of norms set up by the industry.

Catch up with Fort Myers Film Festival and “Missed It Mondays!”
Naples Daily News (blog)

The Fort Myers Film Festival is an intelligent independent filmmaker’s preferred event to create, unite and showcase the finest artistic cinematic works.

May
24

Entertainment Law Seminar: What In-House Lawyers Must Know About Exploiting Creative Content 

Chicago’s leading Entertainment Law firm, Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler, is pleased to announce its inaugural Entertainment Law seminar.

This seminar, geared for in-house counsel tasked with managing a broad range of Intellectual Property, Marketing, Branding and Promotions efforts, deals with the role of attorneys and agents, personal and intellectual property rights, motion picture production and distribution, television rights and procedures, literary publishing, and music publishing and sound recordings. The seminar will also examine technological developments and contract negotiation tips.

This Seminar is FREE, but it is INVITATION-ONLY and currently limited to in-house counsel. Space is limited! Contact David Adler at dadler[at]lsglegal.com to get your invitation.

When:

Thursday, June 20 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Where:

Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler
203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2550
CHICAGO, IL 60601

May
02

The Business of Independent Film

For the past few years, the business of creating independent film has faced many challenges. Outside financing has suffered from the “Great Recession” as banks stopped lending, Federal Section 181 film tax credits have evaporated,  State film Tax credit programs have imploded from scandal and debate rages about the effectiveness of such programs. Three of the six major studios axed subsidiaries that had specialized in buying independent films. Consumer spending is transitioning from buying movies to simply renting them.

However, sales at film festivals continue to inspire filmmakers. So do seasoned, household-name producers. I was recently turned on to the text of Steven Soderbergh‘s speech at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Soderbergh discusses the state of the film industry and fellow indie film producer Ted Hope shares how encouragement and inspiration from Soderbergh kept him in production.

The full transcript of director Steven Soderbergh‘s keynote at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival can be found here.

Every independent filmmaker should listen.

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