Screenwriting How To Protect Your Material

Since starting Filmmaking Stuff, many screenwriters have written me, asking if I could provide advice on how they can protect their screenplay from theft. I usually tell screenwriters that most producers will not go through the process of raising a gazillion dollars without compensating the screenwriter fairly.

However, as my screenwriter friend Jurgen Wolff points out, “While most people are honest, in every business there are people who steal. Once in a while you read about such cases in the media but others are kept quiet as a condition of the settlement.”

Jurgen would know. At least twice in his career someone stole, and took credit for  his material.  As a result, he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because he didn’t know how to handle the situation, and he listened to bad advice.

So when I saw Jurgen’s product focused on helping writers “stop the rip offs,” I thought it would be helpful to you. In full disclosure, this is an affiliate product and I will get a commission for any purchases. But with that said, I know Jurgen personally and can’t think of too many people who are more willing to share their expertise. So if you are interested in finding out more about Jurgen Wolff’s “Stop The Rip-Offs” system, you can do so by following this link.

Stop screenwriting rip offs

Are You Part of The Filmmaking Class?

Canon EOS 7D, front view.

The Cannon EOS 7D is changing the ways filmmakers make movies. Image via Wikipedia

Last week I had a debate with my buddy about filmmaking class. And no, I’m not talking about the classroom. But I am talking about social filmmaking status.

Basically the debate went like this: how do you decide what movies are “real” movies and what movies are “fake.”

(I know. Stupid debate, right? But if you read this, I’ll dispel a myth and forever end Hollywood movie snobbery. Promise.)

In other words, let’s say you’re a filmmaker and you decide to grab your Cannon EOS 7D and shoot a feature – how do you determine if you made a real movie or not?

ARE YOU READY TO LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FAKE MOVIE AND A REAL MOVIE? Then here is the official Jason Brubaker criteria to determine if you created a “real” movie:

Does your movie make money?

If the answer is yes, you my filmmaking friend have a real movie.

“But there are no stars in your stupid movie that you made for 20K on a borrowed camera.”

“Yeah. But it makes more money than that Tom Cruise box office bomb.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I don’t give a crap about the idiot Hollywood snobs who would much rather ignore you and your HD camera. And so what if you never worked with Spielberg or for that matter any “name” talent. And who really cares if some band of ivy league film school graduates spent their 30k making an 8 minute, 35mm short, when you decided to make a feature?

Seriously.

The only thing that matters is if your movie makes money.

Again, seriously.

You’re a filmmaker. If you want to be in business, you must create a product. Your product is a feature film. And if you happen to shoot your feature for no money, with limited locations, with scenes that are under-lit, starring no name actors – but you actually FINISH your feature film and you find your audience and they agree to buy your movie, guess what?

  1. First of all, you are what us business minded folks call “efficient.”
  2. Secondly, by keeping your overhead low, it will take less sales to recoup your initial investment.
  3. And most importantly, you have just created a REAL movie. You are a real, professional filmmaker.

So “F” any Hollywood snob that tells you otherwise. I mean, be nice – but seriously, tell em’ to take a hike. They are probably just worried about job security – and they should be.

Here is why:

Take a look at the ever eroding options for traditional distribution. There are more feature films than ever with better and better images for less of a budget. And very soon, the entire world will be flooded with high production valued content – the likes of which Hollywood has never encountered. (For a historical reference, read about how inexpensive product and cheap labor killed Bethalam Steel and compare this to what’s happening in Hollywood.)

So as a filmmaker, you now have a few choices:

  1. Wait around for someone to discover your project and give you a gazillion dollars – so that you can have a “real” movie that will play the festivals and probably end up on iTunes and Amazon.
  2. Move to Los Angeles, fetch coffee on various “real” productions so that you can one day make a movie that will probably play the festivals and guess what? End up on Amazon and iTunes?
  3. Or starting today, you can create a movie structured around your current cash and equipment and location limitations that will (this is the kicker) play the festivals and probably end up on iTunes and Amazon.

Do you see what I’m getting at? Theatrical distribution is not a viable outlet for independent filmmakers. And video stores are changing and becoming a less viable sales outlet for indie filmmakers. So where does this leave Hollywood filmmakers and you? You got it. The internet.

And yes, I’m once again referring to:

digital self distribution.

(Tell your filmmaking friends – it’s time to face reality.)

You see, for any business to survive, you need a product (or a service) and a group of people willing to recognize that the value of your product outweighs the value of their cash.

Your movie is your product. And thanks to innovations in both production and digital self distribution, there is really no difference between the dollars spent for “real” Hollywood movies or your movie.

And if you’re making a living doing what you love, who really cares if some idiot thinks your work is sub par? I mean, this debate never bothered Roger Corman, so why should it bother you?

Now the important question is – what does this mean? For that answer, I offer a FREE filmmaking book:

www.FreeFilmmakingBook.com

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Jason Brubaker is a Los Angeles based independent producer and an expert in digital self distribution. He makes movies and he writes about making movies. More of his articles can be found at www.filmmakingstuff.com

Advice For Filmmakers who Want to Make Movies

Early in my filmmaking career, I made a lot of mistakes – Many of these mistakes are attributable to a real lack of advice from people with experience. The following video featuring Quentin Tarantino, offers great advice to new filmmakers looking for guidance. (And for those of us filmmakers who have produced a few features – This is still great advice!)

In addition to the filmmaking advice offered in the video, here are 5 things you can do today to accelerate your filmmaking career:

  1. Write down your filmmaking goals. What do you want to accomplish in 5 years? Be specific.
  2. Who do you know who knows someone working in the movie industry. How will you contact that person?
  3. Plan at least one short project you can do each month. Examples would be: music videos, short movies and action sequences.
  4. Set up a profile at YouTube. I believe YouTube will become a major outlet for your eventual feature films. You may as well start building a fan base now.
  5. Set up filmmaking page on FaceBook – And then join us at FILMMAKING STUFF FACEBOOK PAGE

Keep in mind the movie industry is changing. In the past – in order to create your own movie business you needed a gazillion dollars and a traditional distribution solution. But those days are almost behind us. You must now think of your movie making as a global business. You no longer need to ask permission to become successful.

If you want to make a movie, make it! Then build a life-long fan base that will enjoy and pay for your work.

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