Case Study – Copyright

May 28, 2014

LEGAL RIGHTS

Client: INDIA (Government of Gujarat, Doordarshan) & POLAND (NInA, TVP)

Location: Gujarat (Jamnagar & Balachadi) & Warsaw (Poland)

FILM : A LITTLE POLAND IN INDIA

The Beginning was exciting, euphoric and stimulating to my intellectual property (grey cells). I had found a gem in historical connect between India and Poland; a story that was a diamond, yet to be revealed to the world at large. As a filmmaker, it was a perfect set-up for an international co-production, creating bondage of love, compassion and humanity.

Being the first International co-production, it was on my top priority on the list of other productions. To be chosen to do such a unique production from a seed of an idea sown – was a challenge in itself. The story of a War at the other end of a globe, leading to a home at far corner for about 1000 young Polish refugee children – etched a historical and humane connect on my heart.

Thus was born the first International Co-Production film between India and Poland with a WORKING TITLE (very important issue dear readers: please read further on) placed as – A Little Warsaw in Kathiawar.

WORKING TITLES

As a film-maker, and especially working with the Government in India since aeons, it was a matter of principle that, that a Project Film title is always kept as Working-in-Progress till the film completion. It does not require a rocket science intelligence to decipher that no film title can be final unless it is in the completion stages, with its final creative structure sealed.

The “working title” was kept from an interesting article I had read on the subject – widely displayed online and not protected on copyright, but merely made a good beginning phrase for a CONCEPT note.

The first mistake was committed.

CONCEPT NOTE

A concept note can be easily defined as, “Brief overview of the subject and storyline on which the proposed film is to be made. It is understood that the concept note is developed from a basic research matter on the subject, which may be available through a primary research material. Any suggestions of names are also very basic and shall be finalized only after RESEARCH.”

To be noted: A concept note must include a basic budget sheet for the Government as a funder, as that is the most important document for their consideration.

As always, a 2 to 3 pager concept note was accompanied by a footnote stating names of various authors, writers, periodicals and documents that were available online as well as books that were in my possession as primary research sources. It was well noted that the names of these “researchers & authors” would perhaps be associated (to be read as “not approached/confirmed as yet”).

The second mistake was committed.

RESEARCH

The challenge of funding if wasn’t enough I took it upon myself to write the script of this mega project upon the stress-ed out brain & brawn.

Research has always been my core strength. I have believed that no good subject/project can be developed unless an intensive research exercise is undergone. I have often felt that in the field we operate in, research is done in a very frugal way, thus affecting the script.

As I had always done, an endeavor to meet, discuss and read on the subject led me to research on academicians, researchers, writers and others.

I was to know much later that, this intense passion for research would put me in such a roller-coaster ride that would send my “sparkling” intellect into a tizzy!

My expertise in DOCUMENTATION on interactions, conversations and detailed paperwork were wrapping a layer of protection on the skin that was to burn (later).

The third mistake was committed.

DOCUMENTATION

While the process of funding created an Inbox full of interactive communication with funders, Indian Government were the first to pitch in. Bagged with funding letters, I travelled across continents for further research and funding possibilities.

The process took 8 months of intense hard work of networking, persuasion and goodwill across many bureaucratic desks, laborious documents and sleepless nights.

Success was inevitable. For a Fall.

I was suddenly barraged and forwarded letters of a researcher & writer of the subject (one amongst the many I had met) claiming that, “I was unlawfully using researchers name without permission and using goodwill to get funding, creating false credentials…” – the accusations were shocking and never ending! It did not stop there. Various legal and vicious methodologies were adopted in both countries, tarnishing my image, harassing my process, creating as many hurdles as any human brain could – without a flicker of TRUTH in any!

My only weapons: Grace and Silence.

TRIUMPH of TRUTH

One Year of struggle. One Year of creation. One Year of intense anxiety.

RESULT:

Head held High, Heart in Humbleness, Masters in Knowledge – Gratitude in Grace.

LESSONS in MISTAKES

  • Never to use working titles published by any other. Use your grey cells. God has given you enough.
  • Register your Titles (even if they are still working) and Concept notes with various associations/agencies/Government in India – even if they are not under “Bollywood, mega budget” film productions that come under strict copyright laws.
  • You want me to tell you? Free? Forget it. Move your limbs. Do some research!
  • Do not mention any names of writers, authors and any other without their permission, even if they are dead! You never know – the dead may rise like a phoenix and haunt you. For me – I was haunted by a living ghost!
  • Do not (underline) meet anyone related to your film subject without prior research on them themselves! The discovery of credentials of many, “appearing normal, but deranged” status may save your skin.
  • Do not meet anyone related to the subject without a Dictaphone/recorder. Yes, I am well aware that “people with a creative flow (whatever that means!)” are weak in documentation. So let the conversation be document at least! Since my “creative flow” must be weak (as compared to my strength in documentation) – I was allowed to live through in the court of law & life!
  • Do not have “friendly conversations/lunches/tea (& coffee)” based on degrees, paper credentials & smiles of people you meet. They have an ulterior motive termed “friends with benefits only”!
  • Do not lose courage and strength in adversity. True? False. Deranged, psycho, unhappy and jealous forms of human minds shake the very ground that you step upon, testing your courage and adversity to the very core.
  • Do have a good legal expert on board. Never, never, never sign documents, letters and important mails with a nod of her/his head.

SILENCE and TRUST in GRACE/TRUTH are the only weapons. Create, Sharpen & Use them.

Section:: Case Studies

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