Liable Through A Fictional Film

Posted by J.Corbett 
Liable Through A Fictional Film
December 17, 2013 09:52PM
Think of any violent movie. The violence in it is fiction for the most part. Texas Chain Saw Massacre was based on a true story but i have heard many times that the embellished it quite a lot.

It is possible that some crazy person might even try to copy cat those killings. If some one did, would they be liable?


The could a movie maker take an actual real story and change the names but suggest a different more retalitory ending.
i.e. Could a movie person take the Casey Anderson(?) case that was in Florida. This is the case where the mother was accused of killing her child, hiding the body in the trunk and later dumping her in the woods. She also claimed the child was kidnapped by some baby sitter. She did go to trial and was found innocent though everyone felt that she was guilty.

Couse a film maker do a story on that but twist the ending so that the actual father found her a couple of years later and killed her in retribution for his daughter. Could a film maker create that without being liable for anything. I also mean that even if someone was to actually see the film and decide that this is what they wanted to do.

Is there any liability for the film maker in these scenarios?

""" What you do with what you have, is more important than what you could do, with what you don't have."

> > > Knowledge + Action = Wisdom - J. Corbett 1992
Re: Liable Through A Fictional Film
December 20, 2013 04:55AM
I'd email one of the guys from the very popular Scriptnotes podcast they'd be sure to know.

I believe many studios have avoided legal action by changing names, details, plot-points etc. But then in the case of 'Premium Rush' released last year they lifted not only the story and characters but also actual lines of dialogue from the book all without the authors prior knowledge or consent. I didn't follow the outcome of the author's claims or any settlement (if indeed there was one) but that case alone just goes show what can be 'gotten away with' in even the most mainstream cases.

OT: Just like with the 'Chernobyl Diaries' thing. If you websearch 'Chernobyl Diaries trailer ripped off' you'll see some pretty compelling evidence if not out-right proof that the film's entire concept was stolen from a trailer made by a truly independent production company which ended up being shown to several producers in Hollywood then several months later - 'The Chernobyl Diaries' appeared in cinemas.

The woman who wrote 'The Full Monty' also never has to work again because of how her ideas were stolen. She was recommended not to file claims until the film was in cinemas and her pay-off was huge.

If you want to do a treatment on a true story get the rights, although that could be prohibitively costly of course. If not surely a new, original idea wins-out every time?

Re: Liable Through A Fictional Film
March 22, 2014 12:32PM
Sorry for the slow response Q1 is always crazy.

'Chernobyl Diaries trailer ripped off'

Wow, thats crazy. He should get paid for that.

My thing is i want to take an icident that is from a news story that has a beginning and end already. I just want to continue the story with a different outcome. I want to show a character that is effected by due to fragmented information.
The outcome is what i was most worried about. I want to suggest what could be done to make it better or more just.

I have talked to a few people and its split.

i.e. If you take the case in ohio where the guy kidnapped 3 girls and keep them in a basement for like 7 years, he was found guilty and later killed himself in jail. This is a nice tight story line with an outcome i am sure many wanted to happen. But lets just say he was innocent for some technicality and walked. That would be the end of the story accept for the media outrage and public shock. you could as a filmmaker come in and do a movie on this but….. you show that after he walked free for that The girls 3 cousins watched him and found a way to grab him and torture him to death instead. The same way he did them accept he dies.
People might say that the cousins are wrong for the way they killed him but everyone would know somewhere in their mind he deserved it.

When the next guy walks like the guy in Arizona who got 30day jail time for rape of a student. If someone goes and gets him for it could my movie be cited as the reason there is vigilantes taking justice into their own hands.

I am relatively sure that even if this production gets banded it will attract people. Its on me if it goes to hell. I was sorta tunnel vision on this and we have been shooting every sunday since last month.

""" What you do with what you have, is more important than what you could do, with what you don't have."

> > > Knowledge + Action = Wisdom - J. Corbett 1992
Re: Liable Through A Fictional Film
March 24, 2014 02:55AM
I would suggest maybe you look at similar cases involving your concerns for guidance (?) . As far as I know the 'Chernobyl Diaries' guys received not a single cent. The 'Premium Rush' issue IMO is even more shocking . Basically people with less talent and no ideas are always ready and willing to steal to make a buck.
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