PRODUCTION TIPS: Clear the Script and Get Permission BEFORE Shooting

There is alot wrong in this picture according to CBS/Paramount.
Maybe you've heard about the Star Trek fans lawsuit? In January 2016, CBS and According to The Wrap, Paramount sued producer Alec Peters of Axanar Productions for copyright infringement... The suit concerns “Axanar” and the prequel film “Prelude to Axanar,” collectively referred to as “the ‘Axanar’ Works.” “The ‘Axanar’ Works infringes plaintiffs’ works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of ‘Star Trek,’ including its settings, characters, species, and themes,” the complaint reads. CBS and Paramount are seeking up to $150,000 for every copyrighted “Star Trek” element present in the films.

I admire the love, devotion and skill Peters has demonstrated with the making of the 'Axanar Works' but he doesn't seem to have a strong defense, even if he cites "fair use." The fair use doctrine would provide protection if he were making a parody like this In Living Color "Star Trek" skit or if he were commenting upon or critiquing Star Trek for the purposes of a documentary. 

I am not sure what was happening during the development meetings for 'Axanar' but had I been there, my script clearance report would have listed all the things in the script he needed to get permission from CBS/Paramount for. And, in the alternative, I would have suggested ways he could have made his film in line with a fair use defense. But it is too late for that now and either Peters somehow successfully negotiates for the rights and licenses or his film gets shut down.

If you want to know more about script clearances, getting permission and ways to avoid copyright infringement lawsuits, contact me at

PRODUCTION TIPS: Build Your Brand by Creating A Production Company Mindmap

Love him or hate him, Walt Disney's success can not be denied. His creativity extended beyond his artistry and into the realms of business.

Behold this extraordinary mindmap attributed to Disney from 1957 (and color-coded by ZillionDesigns).

Notice how varied the businesses of Walt Disney Productions are and how they intersect and compliment each other. The different business arms not only serve legal, taxation and logistical purposes BUT also marketing, branding and intellectual property purposes. For example, the TV department doesn't just meet the legal and business purposes of "paying off the cost of own film" it also "publicizes the products of the music division."

Any producer out there starting a production company (even with one film) would benefit greatly from contemplating on Disney's mindmap and thinking about he or she can also map the strategy for their project in a similar way. Obviously, that indie producer's mindmap would be much more modest and with much less divisions/departments but the point of doing a mindmap for your production company is to integrate all the different ways and purposes of your projects. Consider that the indie production company film could have outlets (or divisions/departments) in publications or TV let alone on social media and video sharing websites. If you look at your production as a project with multiple outlets (or divisions/departments) to tap into then you increase your project's potential for exposure and exploitation which would improve your odds of success.

For further exploration into what Disney can teach you about building your brand and how interaction can achieve the following: 1) Make customers happy. 2) Increase brand loyalty. 3) Increase customer retention. 4) Spread positive word of mouth. 5) Reduce marketing costs in the long run. 6) Help in crises management. Click here.

For advice on how to put together your film production strategy and make it work across different mediums, contact me at

The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist

The COVID-19 “Get Back to Filmmaking” Checklist A 40-point checklist from development to post-production   by Danny Jiminian