Paramount Worried It Can't Compete With A Bunch Of Amateurs

from the learning-to-let-go dept

Back at the last Techdirt Greenhouse event, one of the presenting startups was Jumpcut, makers of online tools to edit videos, as well as share clips and results so that others can benefit from it as well (the NY Times just had a nice article discussing Jumpcut and its competitors). The question Jumpcut brought up for discussion is one we talk about often here on Techdirt. Noting the rise of "amateur to amateur" content, where people could create, mix, distribute and promote their own content, the company wanted to know where the traditional content industries were going to fit into the mix. As an example of one possibility, the company showed a contest they ran with Warner Independent Pictures, where they let anyone remix the trailer for the new film A Scanner Darkly, and provided plenty of content for users to experiment with. It was a fascinating experiment, that got a lot of interest. However, what happens when people do this sort of "remix" on their own?

Take, for example, this new story about Paramount Pictures, who is suing a young, amateur filmmaker, who found the script to the new Oliver Stone movie, World Trade Center online, and decided to see if he could film his own version (condensed down to twelve minutes) using Yale student actors. The twelve minute version has actually received some good reviews, but Paramount claims that people might somehow confuse an amateur 12 minute video with their version starring Nicholas Cage and Maria Bello -- and backed up with hundreds of millions of dollars (including a $40 million marketing campaign). Considering that the movie industry has been complaining that you can't replicate $200 million films with cheaper production methods, this seems like a very odd position for them to take. However, more importantly, they're falling back on their view that they somehow control every aspect of the product these days, rather than recognizing that there's more to it than the content. Why not embrace these efforts as evidence of fan interest in the film, and use it to generate even more interest? Even if the amateur work isn't good or flattering, just the fact that people would bother to try to recreate it suggests an interest in the film. Encouraging more people to do so gets the idea out there that the original is a film worth seeing. After all, no one spends time making their own versions of films no one cares about.

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  1. identicon
    Junyo, 21 Jun 2006 @ 12:50pm

    Well yeah, but he can't just take a bootleg script and make a movie without expecting to get sued. "He's free to make any World Trade Center movie he wants to make, but not our movie with our script," said Nancy Kirkpatrick, a Paramount spokeswoman...The lawsuit compares the nearly identical dialogue from the Moukarbel and Stone films, which both document the ordeal of two Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers. C'mon. He didn't make a work derivative of the Paramont film, a parady or documentary, he didn't write his own version of these events, he just stole someone else's script. This is just an enterprising, high effort twist on sitting in the back of the theater with a camcorder. I guess an argument could be made that the photography/format/acting constitute a unique and distinctive atristic work, but that's a strech. Hope he has a good lawyer.

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