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Old 01-26-2016, 11:58 AM   #1
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Question Modifying Film Festival Laurels Legal?

Hi everybody,

I am kinda new to the Festival world and have a (maybe stupid) question. I sent a short film to some festivals and got accepted for four small festivals so far. They sent me the laurels etc. but they all have an own (some really weird) design. So my question is if it is possible and legal to adjust the design of the laurels to make them match in their style (without changing the text of course). I've seen some short film posters where the laurels have all the same design and it looks way better. That's why I ask .

Also I don't know if it actually has sense to use these laurels to advertise the short film because, as I said, they are really small festivals (Venice Film Week / Roma Cinema DOC / Texas Ultimate Shorts / Wendy's Shorts). It's my serious first short film I have ever made and sent to festivals, therefore it would maybe make sense to use also these laurels because I highly doubt that the film has any chance for a lot bigger festivals. But does it look unprofessional to put a lot of unimportant laurels on the poster of my film, or is it better to use the laurels when I don't have anything bigger?

I hope you can understand my concern and thank you for reading.
Best wishes,
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:15 PM   #2
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Not too sure why you'd want to change the look of the laurels.

I thought most laurels came from a stock design that almost everyone uses: just these big strands of leaves up both sides of the text. You see them show up on posters and DVD/Blu-ray cases, depending on how hard the distributors or owners want to convince you that their film is worth a watch.

I've seen laurels show up in foil colors like gold, silver, soft copper, or shiny white. And I've seen them show up in other matte colors, like red. But I don't recall ever seeing laurels different than I've seen them before: with like different plants, leaf count, or otherwise. Plus, I guess I have seen different book-end designs on "Laurels," but they just don't look as good to me as the leaves do. It seems to be a pretty standardized system.

I doubt that the leaves are specific to any festival, as they all seem to be the same. But there may be something to the standard accepted usage of laurels, and that anything other than leaves flanking your awarded texts would go against some special set of rules, or at least go against tradition.

Does anyone have any specific knowledge of these things?

Last edited by FilmmakerJ; 01-26-2016 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:17 PM   #3
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Thank you for your fast answer.
The laurel of the Venice Film Fest Festival for example is kinda a logo of the festival, like a square (they sent it to me like this, so I'm sure it's their official laurel) and the one from the Texas Ultimate Shorts Festival is like the classic laurel but with a hat on it. So it looks very unprofessional and weird to me. Could I just change the laurels of these festivals to the classic one with the normal leafs?
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:59 PM   #4
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You probably COULD without getting into any trouble, but it seems rude at best. These festivals have shown you the respect of accepting your movie. It seems fair that, if you choose to display their laurel, you do it as they intended.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:14 PM   #5
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Okay yeah I understand. It is just weird because I've never seen a laurel like this before. But I will stick to their design. Thank you.
Does anyone of you have an opinion to the second question?

Last edited by TGW; 01-26-2016 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 01-30-2016, 02:37 AM   #6
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Completely OK to change them.

There are some cases where it would not be wise to do so, like if the festival has a distinct design and is a world famous festival (Sundance or Berlin come to mind). You'd want people to be able to recognize it right away.

For smaller festivals however, it's very common to have a graphic designer change the look of the laurels for your overall poster design or trailer. For my film I ended up completely redesigning them because some festivals have no budget for professional looking laurels and their fonts are bad, or the file they send is a bad resolution, or just an awkward shape, etc.

Edit: I just saw your post about Venice. First of all congrats, and second of all I think that falls under the category of festival laurels you wouldn't want to change.

Last edited by moonshieldmedia; 01-30-2016 at 02:40 AM.
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Old 08-15-2016, 04:57 PM   #7
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I've never heard of anyone getting in trouble for modifying laurel logos. A lot of filmmakers do modify them for design reasons when incorporating them into per-existing posters, and some like to have a more uniform laurel design. I think as long as the main logo is intact you should have no problems.
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Old 08-15-2016, 05:27 PM   #8
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Yes, you can make laurels uniform, like you said, as seen on many posters. I had a template for a basic laurel and would enter the text of the fest, so all mine were uniform as well.

Originally Posted by TGW View Post
Hi everybody,
But does it look unprofessional to put a lot of unimportant laurels on the poster of my film, or is it better to use the laurels when I don't have anything bigger?
No award is unimportant. Be proud of all your achievements and don't let the smaller festivals see that you think they are unimportant. You may want to enter again.
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