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using quotes from other movies


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#1 tom lombard

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 11:03 AM

Would one need permission/acknowledgement to use a quote from another movie in a new movie?  Specifically, I'm writing a character who's an avid film fanatic and frequently works quotes from film in his conversations in a "recognizable" fashion.  An example would be using a De Niro voice asking "Are you talking to me?" or Gable voice saying "Frankly, I don't give a damn."  If there were just a quote or 2 used, it would probably be good to be on the safe side & seek permission.  However, that's a big part of the character so he does a lot of quoting.  There would be no reference to the film or character other than a few words that you might or might not recognize being done in voice attempting to imitate the original.  Thanks, Tom


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 11:18 AM

Not sure but I would think a brief quote from a famous movie is OK if it clearly isn't being passed off as original material, but I'm sure it's also a question about how sensitive the copyright holder is. So many movies do this echo of a famous quote from something familiar from popular culture so it's hard to imagine that clearance is always needed. But I'm not a lawyer...
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#3 Samuel Berger

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 11:41 AM

Totally fine as long as the lines are not sung ;-) 

 

Treat Williams improvised a De Niro impression in a movie some time ago, and I've seen it done many times. SUPERNATURAL reused the entire gun shop scene almost line by line from TERMINATOR, nobody got in trouble. SUPERNATURAL is actually a repeat offender in that department. They also re-used the "I knew it was real" bit from GALAXY QUEST among others.

 

I remember one 80's horror movie that, I guess, didn't have the budget for song rights from the 50's. The main character was a reincarnated beauty queen from the 50's killing teenagers. They had her humming everything from "Tutti Frutti" to "Blue Suede Shoes" instead of singing and I guess they got away with it.

 

(On a different note, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE was believed to be in the public domain for a few years so scenes from it ended up being used in a horror movie, with the Bedford Falls people turning into zombies. But that's another story)


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#4 David Hessel

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 01:19 PM

Are you sure that it is OK? I mean do you have first hand knowledge if these specific productions had permission or not? Just because others have done it doesn't mean they didn't get permission or just did it anyway and got away with it. I personally have no idea but don't want someone running off and doing it without permission and finding out the hard way that permission was needed.


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#5 Samuel Berger

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 01:26 PM

Parody is generally free use and from what he's saying, the context of the quotes is that of parody.


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#6 tom lombard

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 01:47 PM

Merriam-Webster says...

 

Definition of parody
plural parodies
1:a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule  
  • wrote a hilarious parody of a popular song
2:a feeble or ridiculous imitation  
  • a cheesy parody of a classic western

And that certainly defines what I'm doing here except I'm limiting it to individual lines from multiple movies.  "ridiculous imitation" nails it really well.


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#7 David Hessel

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 01:54 PM

Thanks for the clarification, it looks like you are correct. The name for this is law is Fair Use in case the OP wants to read up on it.


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#8 tom lombard

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 02:13 PM

Thanks.  I'll check out Fair Use.  To expand on my "ridiculous imitation"... the character has 2 big interests.  The first is movies and the second is his flock of chickens.  He's given the chickens film names (Rambo, Toto, Maria, etc) and banters with them which includes a lot of movie quotes.  He even sits in the coop (walls plastered with movie posters) and watches movies with them on his laptop.  It's actually fairly autobiographical up to that point :)  However, it's a scifi comedy complete with aliens.  Sorta predator/green acres/monty python mashup.  It was going to be a short but I'm having way too much fun with this so it's turning into a feature length that I'll be shooting in the Spring/Summer of '18.  I promise to post the trailer here first.


Edited by tom lombard, 10 October 2017 - 02:17 PM.

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#9 Samuel Berger

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 02:18 PM

You got me at GREEN ACRES. Hope you'll keep us posted.


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#10 tom lombard

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 02:21 PM

Costars...

 

 

IMG_7649.JPG

 

 


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#11 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 04:48 PM

Check the look in that rooster's eye.


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#12 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:22 PM

A cigar or maybe pipe would complete the look. Politically incorrect, though ..


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#13 Samuel Berger

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:56 PM

A cigar or maybe pipe would complete the look. Politically incorrect, though ..

 

An eyepatch would be hilarious.


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#14 George Ebersole

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 07:52 AM

I reccommend you head over to Francis Ford Coppola's virtual studio; www.zoetrope.com, register as a user, and ask the gaggle of professional screenwriters there.  A lot of them, regrettably, are actors and not real screen writers, but the few hobbyists and pros there will have an answer for you.

 

This actually is a big issue, so tread carefully (and I used to know the answer years ago, but it actually is a case specific instance of use and in what context, so there is no simple legal answer).


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#15 tom lombard

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 08:58 AM

Thanks.  Will check out that source.


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