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Old 02-04-2018, 03:23 PM   #1
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Who has the legal authority to enter a film into a film festival?

Hello, everyone.

In August 2017, I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project ("48HFP") in Chicago, IL. There were 6 people on my
team, and these 6 people were as follows:

the director/team leader (the person who paid the registration fee)

the director of photography ("DP")

two people who wrote the script and who assisted in the principal photography

two actors (myself and one other actor)

The principal photography went smoothly. However, in the post-production phase, there was a problem. The director decided to do all of the editing by himself, and to shut the 3 other crew members out of the editing process. While the director was editing the director's version of the film, the DP decided to edit the DP's own version of the film. The DP emailed the DP's version of the film to the director about 90 minutes before the submission deadline. However, the director rejected the DP's version, and submitted the director's version to the contest.

I found out about this "disagreement" after the director had already submitted the director's version and the
submission deadline had already passed.

I watched both versions, and my own personal opinion was that the DP's version was better. The director's version did not win any awards.

I took a good look at the DP's version, to see whether this version was good enough to be submitted to other film festivals. After carefully reviewing this version, I came to the conclusion that there was a great film contained within this version, and that this version needed to be "refined" so that the great film could emerge. In other words, the DP's version needed some more editing in order to become a great film. So, over the past few months, I've been editing the DP's version in my spare time. The other 5 people from the team (including the DP) do not yet know that I've been doing all this editing.

I would like to submit my version of the film to a few film festivals. I'm willing to cover the submission fees.
So, the fees are not the issue. What IS an issue, is whether I have the legal authority to submit my version to
film festivals.

In general, who has the legal authority to submit a film to a film festival? Only the film's owner? Can any crew
member submit? Can any actor submit?

The following is the release form that all members of my 48HFP team signed:


This release form seems to give, to the director/team leader and the 48HFP, some type of joint ownership of the
film. But does this release form apply only to the version of the film that was submitted to the contest?

In my team's case, the director/team leader edited the version that was submitted. The DP edited a different
version, and my version simply improves upon the DP's version. Who owns my version of the film? The director/team leader? The 48HFP? The DP? Myself?

There is another complication in this situation. After the submission deadline passed, my team discussed the
contest via email. In one email, the director/team leader said the following to me:

There are a lot of good shots, and there are possiblities to make something other than a suspense [my team's
assigned genre] out of it. I can provide you with all files so you can make your own version. I had less than a day to do the editing so if you spend time on it you will have something different, more suitable to your ideas. I also can provide you with my Final Cut Pro files so you only need to make the changes you want. [The DP] made his personal version already. Maybe he is willing to share his edited files as well. He used another software. Cannot remember which one. But it opens one more avenue to make a personal version for everyone.

This email was copied to the other members of the team as well.

So, it appears that the director/team leader approves of the idea that each team member will make his own version of the film.

Given the director's email and the release form that the team members signed, do I already have the legal authority to enter my version of the film into film festivals? If I do not have that authority, whose permission do I need?

Thank you for any information.
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Old Today   #1A
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Old 02-04-2018, 04:43 PM   #2
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Wow, I started to read this but my attention span is not what it used to be...
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Old 02-04-2018, 05:00 PM   #3
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Legal advice = consult an entertainment attorney.
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Old 02-04-2018, 05:03 PM   #4
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You were clearly invited to cut your own version of the film, so you are safe to enter film festivals with it. Everyone who worked on the project would be thrilled to see it win an award. Just be sure to give credit to everyone who worked on it.
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