Fan Productions shut down by Rights Holders?

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    In light of the recent incident wherein CBS stopped Norman Spinrad from selling his "He Walked Amongst Us" script and asked the Phase II people not to produce it, I thought it would be interesting to find out if anyone knows of any other instances where such a thing has happened.

    I've read of one. A group in North Carolina was working on a non-profit web series based on Lost In Space. A fellow named Ron Haselius — who was working on the 3-D models for it — says that on November 2nd last year the production got a C&D (Cease & Desist) letter from the rights holders, shutting them down. Here's a quote from a topic on SciFi-Meshes where he was showing the design work on the ship model:

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOwmohr7Fbw[/yt]

    The domain is now defunct, but, thanks to the magic of Archive.org's Wayback Machine, you can still see parts of it.


    Anyone know if this kind of thing has happened to anyone else/any other franchise? I suppose it's the inherent danger of playing with someone else's toys.
     
  2. Pony Horton

    Pony Horton Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Maurice,

    Over 40 years ago an author named Sid Fleischman published a wonderful novel titled BY THE GREAT HORN SPOON.

    Disney bought the rights to it in the late 1960's and made a really terrible film of it, titled BULLWHIP GRIFFIN.

    Eversince I read that book as a teenager, I wanted to film it, exactly as written. A few years ago I befriended Mr. Fleischman, and asked about the possibility of obtaining the rights to make such a film. He explained to me that I'm not the only one who wanted to do that, but all these years later, Disney still maintains the rights to it and will not allow ANYONE else to get them, even though they have no planes to ever make the film again.

    Sid told me he thinks, I believe correctly, that Disney would be corporately, and creatively, embarrassed by someone who might actually make the film properly.

    That makes me more tempted to film it just to egg Disney into trying to shut me down, and telling them to shove it if they don't like it!

    It's the mentality of many non-creative, middle-and-upper management-types who will do ANYTHING to cover their asses before admitting that they did a job wrong. The old, "If I can't do it, NOBODY can do it!" attitude.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    That's interesting, Pony. It's sad that things like this happen.

    However, I always shake my head at the idea that companies are "embarrassed" at someone making something well. I think there is a simpler answer, and that almost always really comes down to the following.

    Do we own the rights?
    Yes.

    Might we ever do anything with it someday?
    Maybe, possibly.

    Is it worth paying our lawyers to sort out the contracts to release the rights vs. just saying 'no'?
    No.

    Answer = No.
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    That narrative is insightful, Maurice, and, therefore, beneficial.

    Seems like a recurring theme among fans is being unable to see things from the perspective of the "other side". I suppose that comes at least partly from being blinded by their enthusiasm for their show, coupled with their generally being amateurs, and therefore inexperienced in the biz.
     
  5. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Metro-Birmingham, Alabama
    I think part of it may be that Gene Roddenberry embraced fandom and fanzines. Fan films are a natural progression of fan fiction given the technological advances. It's probably harder for CBS Studios to shut down a production rather than turn a blind eye to it.
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    My primary experience is in videogame production/licensing and dealing with IP there (e.g. PAC-MAN), but decisions really always came down to opportunity cost, i.e. given budgets and resources (manpower) available, is there any expectation that spending any time and effort (=money) of this is going to actually be in the company's best interests?

    A friend of mine ran into this recently when he contacted some companies about licensing rights to use some of their logos, and basically their lawyers didn't know what doing so would entail, and it wasn't worth their time to research it when they had other licensing arrangements that were much easier to figure out and considerably more profitable.
     
  7. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    "Avian's" poor-mouthing to the contrary, if I were the rights-holder to Lost In Space I certainly wouldn't view it as a property having "very little chance" of being profitable in the future.

    Yep, the big-budget movie made in the 90s failed at the box office.
    Yep, the 2003 WB series never made it to air.

    So, where's the remaining value in such a property?

    Ask Tim Burton and Warner Bros. They're about to release Dark Shadows - based on a cult TV series from about the same era as Lost In Space. DS spawned a couple of cheap movies in the 1970s, a big-budget TV miniseries made in the 90s that failed in the ratings...and a 2004 WB series that never made it to air.

    There are reasons that producers keep coming back to properties like this. Someone fortunate enough to own the rights to this one might reasonably expect Hollywood to come back around for another pass at it, and if I owned it I'd protect the hell out of it right now. :lol:
     
  8. Tom

    Tom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2003
    Location:
    In your Mind!
    Polaris?
     
  9. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    What about that?
     
  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    The book Homemade Hollywood documents a few cases of fan filmmakers being shut down by cease and desist letters. It doesn't include any recent examples, though, as far as I recall.
     
  11. Zeppster

    Zeppster Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Or look at Doctor Who which fell apart in the late 80s in ratings made a bad, not well liked and basically failed revival in a movie in the 90s. But in part because in part because of fan audio productions and the revival series in the 2000 became a huge success and the show basically has no end. Something like a web show can easily help bring back a show.
     
  12. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    The Bay Area
    Awesome find, Maurice! It would've been interesting to see a fan film that wasn't another TBYASS (TREK but on yet another starship) or a Jedi/Sith/Stormtropper love fest. LiS is ripe for a fan film format. Sounds like it would've been fun.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  13. Barbreader

    Barbreader Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Location:
    New York, New York
    I want to disagree with the thrust of this discussion. Many fan films do take different tacts on Trek. Most famously, Aurora follows a merchant ship. (STR page on Aurora:http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/25.html ) Intrepid has one short which take place entirely around a campfire, with two characters talking things through. (Episode on Vimeo, http://vimeo.com/32705453 STR page on Intrepid, which includes You Tube, downloads, and other formats, http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/109.html ). Similarly, Star Trek Unity, which follows a Dr. Who-style Time Lord and his friend, also from the ancient civilization which spawned that technology who are also Starship Captains, includes episodes like this Easter one, in which the two aliens have a discussion in which they compare Easter Eggs, Romulan Ale, and Coca Cola, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnMNWS3RCkE (Page at STR http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/90.html ). Also entirely different, Flintstone-inspired "Stone Trek," (STR page, http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/8.html ), Silent Film inspired "Steam Trek" (http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/7.html, ) and prehaps the most offbeat of all, Duet, which is close to a reshoot of a DS 9 Episode, set in 1950s Germany (http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/6.html . )

    In fact, what has really been the outstanding factor in Star Trek Fan Films has been their variety. I had to stop myself from going on and on, but I could probably list another dozen with entirely fresh approaches.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    I think you overstate how "fresh" these approaches are. Too many of these films ape the most formulaic and tired conventions of Star Trek even if their setting is different, especially of the "shields down to nobodycares" variety.
     
  15. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    The Bay Area
    As Maurice says, fan films hardly move beyond the formulaic and ape the worse aspects of TREK. The examples you list aren't particularly fresh nor innovative. I talk about this more in this post.
     
  16. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2011
    ^I could go on for pages about how off-base you are, but I'll settle for two points:

    1) Apparently you're watching a different Starship Exeter. Exeter is all about doing Classic Trek in the Classic way.

    2) You hold up Abrams as an example of how it "should be done"? Yes, by all means lets learn how to make better Star Trek media by copying Star Wars' style and tone...

    You accuse fan films of being too insular and safe...as well as being the intellectual equivalent of "junk food"...so what does Abrams bring us? Kirk/Spock friendship trope. Spock struggles with his heritage trope. Revenge-driven villain trope. All dressed up in lens flares, lots of "run and jump" and "pew-pew-pew". Your example of how Trek films should be made is the perfect example of everything you claim to decry in fan-films...:rolleyes:
     
  17. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    Well in the case of DW, the controller of BBC1 basically made sure it wopuld be cancelled by moving it opposite the top show on ITV. Then they could justify it by claiming low ratings, much like the so called Friday Night Death Slot on US Networks.

    As for the 1996 TV strictly speaking it was a success in the UK drawing in some 10m viewers from memory. When DW did return to TV some 8 years later I believe "Rose" got something like 9m viewers. So from a ratings point of view in the UK is was a success. In the US not so much so.

    From memory I believe what prevented DW from retuurning earlier than 2004 was the rights were with BBC Worldwide part of the BBC rather than with BBC1
     
  18. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Maurice and Middy are basically right, of course. The thing about fan efforts is that they're just about always most successful at expressing the enthusiasm of their makers for the specifics of the thing they admire and the feelings that those familiar elements - music, costuming, the acting and narrative style, the continuity - evoke in them as fans.

    The guys who wrote and produced Abrams's movie along with him - Roberto Orci, for one - are "guilty" of the same thing; they're fans and even in the process of creating a mass entertainment that has to appeal to people who don't know much about the original they find ways to inject what they remember and what appeals to them. It's been suggested that a lot of what we're seeing in movie theaters in general these days reflects the fact that a generation of skiffy fans is now writing and directing big commercial movies.
     
  19. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    The Bay Area
    Maybe so. For more on my opinion on this subject, here's what I wrote in the Fan Film Writers thread:

    This is the same generic, superficial drivel of an argument trotted out by those who constantly feel the need to prove that the new TREK isn't really TREK. I could go on for pages, but I won't ... it's not worth the effort.

    Moreover, your last statement shows to me that you read what I said, but you didn't really listen to what I said.
     
  20. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    There may be worthwhile criticisms of Abrams's movie out there somewhere, but they're not being posted by Trek fans on Trekbbs.