Last year I was appraoched by a filn company. THey made a documentary about my life. THey knew from teh beginnign I was a devout catholic. I always wore a crucifix and the film contrains a scene inmy church with my family where I say this is teh most important part of our day. WE start every day by going to church. There was no written contract for the fim. THey made it because they said they ewanted to hekp my non profit financially. THings went great for about 10 months. THe film was entered into various fim festivals. It won an awd at teh Asheville conema festival. However, when the producers learned my views about same sex marraige and other catholic views they strated writing things to people disparaging me and saying they did not agree with my ethics. THis has been going on since march. A post inferring the same was made as recent as last week that I am a dumb ass, intolerant. In order to have this film done I paid or collected about $25,000. THe film was supposed to be available for me to sell on my non profit website and also attempts made to sell the movie to distribution. However, the makers have unilaterally decided to"Shelve" the movie removing all the potential benefits for my organization. Now they are trying to extoryt money from me to purchase the film from them simpply because they do not agree with my catholic beliefs
I know you have tried fighting this through copyrights and joint works, but have you approached it under breach of contract. Even though you have no written contract, you can pursue them for breach of the oral contract you had regarding the film, which may be more difficult in that you have to prove the terms of the contract, it is really the only other angle you have. The discrimination angles are not going to be valid because they will argue first amendment rights in the production of films. The other angle you can attack is defamation if they are making known false statements about you which have caused you harm. Unfortunately, if they are making true comments about you and expressing their opinions about your beliefs, defamation would not work. Thus, the only other avenue to try to pursue is breach of the oral contract.
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They have made no comments in the movie about my faith. The film was made with the intention of helping my non- profit. I met these people because I hired them to do dog training videos for $11,500 and use those videos to sell on our website as a way of raising donations. When they heard my story they asked if they could do a movie about my life in order to get the word out about the organization and help it financially. THey wanted to become inde film makers. While there was a contract for the videos when I agreed to make teh move I never asked for a contract. There are emails in which they state there will be a 40/40/20 revneu split. THe e Kickstarter page they used to raise funds all came from my family . I paid for some of their travel expenses and never recieved the videos because they didnt start working on them until about 10 months later even though I paif them 100% for them. THe problem is they have decided to shelve the movie unilaterally. THey said in a lteer for their attorney they did this because I "gave away the ending" of the movie in an interview. Such is not true. THe writer saw the film and interviewed me before and after the screening which they of course endorsed.
As I said, defamation is the weakest of the possibilities here. The copyright is your best and the only other potential is a breach of contract claim against them, since they did make oral promises to you and you relied on those promises to make the film, so you can argue this is an exception to the statute of frauds which states all contracts must be in writing. The contract claim is the only other cause of action that seems to apply here in addition to your copyright claim.
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