Filmmaking / Directing : Question of rights for an idea by Melissa Mars

Melissa Mars

Question of rights for an idea

First post on Stage 32 :) Hi! I am a multi-hat artist I’d say, loving being on both sides of the camera depending on the projects - acting, singing, music composing, writing, directing... As I am in development of an idea I have for a show, a question came up to my mind as far as rights: when an idea is inspired by an event that happened to someone you know, this event being now the kinda trigger point of the show I'm imagining, but the whole rest of the concept is the fruit of my imagination, I was wondering about the rights, if I need some kind of official rights? To be more specific: as a kid, I lived from far that sad event that touched someone in my family that I asked, once an adult, to describe in more details to write about it, if that was ok with her. All of it happening in conversation. Then I basically started extrapolating, and "escaping" in my own world to write a story... I'm just wondering in terms of rights, is it the type of things where we need written rights? When it's one event and not the whole story? What is the real definition and deal with rights on things like "based on a true event", or "inspired by a true event"... I tried to research it on google, but it's not clearly defined when it's a single event as opposed to an entire story... If anyone has some elements of response, I'd love to know more... Thanks

Dan MaxXx

It's a make believe business - movies. You can do whatever you want, just lawyer up first before you spent Money & years on passion projects. The end game is $$$$, a profit. Then make another movie , also known as a "career."

Martina Cook

Hi Melissa, if it’s just an event I would presume there are no “rights”, events happen everywhere, to anyone, but if you mean a specific event that someone already covered in a book/movie then that has some sort of “rights”, again if you name names it’s more likely you can be sued. I recently read about “The assassination of Gianni Versace”, Versace’s family was quite upset by the series because they claimed most of the movie/book was speculation, yet I don’t think they had any way to stop it because it’s a public story, hence there were no “rights” to it. Just make sure you don’t use real names. In case it’s really bothering you, ask an entertainment lawyer, they should be able to be more precise. Good luck! :)

Shawn Speake

Hey, Melissa! Huger congrats on your first S32 Post. That's what's up!... No real names - no worries. I use components from my peoples' lives all the time. That's what we do. There's a gazillion ways to write a story. Nobody's gonna write it like you.

Melissa Mars

Thanks, everyone, that helps a lot :)

Ryan McCoy

Melissa, just to drop my $.02 into the convo, I agree with what Shawn is saying. To quote a something that’s been argued since T.S Elliot and probably centuries prior, “good artists borrow, great artists steal”. If you are one of the few great storytellers of our time, and you happen to take the story of what someone else has done and then make it your own and make it a compelling piece of writing/film, then you’ll always win in the end. Being afraid of being sued before you actually create what you say you are going to, means that you have other hurdles within yourself you need to figure out before you write/create anything. Just my honest opinion and I’m available here on Stage 32 if you would like to shoot me a message and discuss more. I wish you all the best.

Shawn Speake

I'm going for greatness so I steal all the time. Not trying to reinvent the wheel :) My writing partners hate the word so I say I got it doing 'research'.

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

the rights are yours

Mark Sonoda

The short answer is yes and no. Even if you use made up names or altered names, you could run into an issue about life rights, especially if scenes or aspects of you series actually mirror real events and people that were part of your "inspiration person's" real life. If they felt you depicted something in error or negatively, they could sue you for damages to their reputation and illegal use of their life rights. But if you want to be absolutely sure, ensure that any scene or character you create does not look, act or actually was engaged in the activities your characters are portraying in your series / film.

M L.

There's a reason every film usually has the quote at the end. "The events portrayed in this motion picture are entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and unintentional." Even in obvious cases where it goes without saying you'll still see that quote. Just add that to your credits. Oh, and check with an attorney. ;)

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