Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Platforming your way to interrogatories

Warren Leonard, of The Screenwriting Life has an article in the May/June edition of scr(i)pt magazine on the use of other media platforms as a means for screenwriters to promote themselves and their work. With the rise of free video hosting sites, such as YouTube, cheap professional-grade content creation products, and technology like the iPod in more and more hands each day, the different avenues for standing out in the crowd has never been greater. But, as Cliff Robertson once told that jockey from Seabiscuit, with great power comes great responsibility.

Case in point: the copyright infringement suit filed by Paramount Pictures this week against Washington D.C. resident, Chris Moukarbel. It seems the self-starting Mr. Moukarbel obtained (illegally, it is alleged) a copy of the screenplay to World Trade Center, Oliver Stone's upcoming 9/11 dramatization of one New York Fire Department crew's experience at Ground Zero that day. Hot script in hand, Paramount contends, Moukarbel then created a 12-minute short film that dramatized . . . one New York Fire Department crew's experience at Ground Zero on 9/11. While imitation may indeed be the sincerest form of flattery, apparently Mr. Moukarbel took that to the extreme of copying the dialogue from the WTC script nearly verbatim. I don't know if Moukarbel made any money with his "homage" but one hopes he doesn't go wasting it on something frivolous like, say, an attorney to defend the suit. Just endorse the checks "Pay to the order of Brad Grey" and move on.

When T.S. Eliot said "bad poets borrow, good poets steal," I doubt this is quite what he meant.


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