Using a scene from a film in the background of my scene?

Not looking for legal advice, but hoping someone could provide some guidance, i've gone on Google and couldn't find much specifically relating to my question. So I want to know what the legalities around using a scene from another film/animation etc that is playing on a television in the background of my scene briefly would be. I plan on having my character walking through her living room and in the background a specific scene of a film is playing on the TV which serves as foreshadowing to the story but I haven't been able to find much around the legalities of this. I'd be using the audio as well but it would be barely on there for more than 3 - 4 seconds and just in the background, what types of licensing, if any, would I need for this, where would I start?

Cheers!
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I disagree that it falls under fair use, but I'm not a lawyer.

In my opinion, this requires specific approval/licensing from whoever owns the movie. If it's a well-known movie, that's likely to be very expensive and/or impossible to get.

You might consider either (a) finding an indie film with a similar scene that you could license inexpensively to show on the screen or (b) shooting such a scene yourself and running on the tv.
 
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Not looking for legal advice, but... I want to know what the legalities around using a scene from another film/animation etc ...

That is legal advice. Seek an attorney.

As for licensing, go by the general rule of thumb that if it isn’t yours and it isn’t public domain, you can assume that it needs to be licensed. Is it a mainstream film? You’ll need to license through the distribution company. Is it indie? Contact the distributor, or if it’s not gotten distribution then contact the filmmakers directly.

I’d approach it with a letter explaining who you are and what you’re doing, and simply ask for permission. The worst they can say is, “No.” They may affer you a reduced licensing fee, or they may give you clearance. You may have to find an alternative solution.

Mlesemann pointed you in the easiest direction to write and shoot your own film clip to run in the background. You could also search through public domain films to find one that works.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
You have to be creative and find a way to make your scene work. Does a film reviewer on TV talking about the scene work? So as the character walks by, not paying attention to TV, the TV is shown and heard reviewing the film. Foreshadowing. Something like that.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
DO NOT assume fair use. Always assume the opposite and get a proper legal answer. If this was a documentary and you happened to capture a small amount of a commercial film on TV, it could be fair use. If you script it in, and do not parody it or change it in some way to make it creatively yours, it is not. It's just using someone's work w/o permission.

PS. It's a big process to get clips like this. In some cases you have to clear the music rights again, as well as actors and stuntpeople etc.

Check this out: https://www.sonypictures.com/studios/filmclipandstilllicensing.php
 
In one of my short film, I had a character watching TV and only the audio is heard. Still, I was told by my school that if I intend to distribute the film, I should have all the clearance, if not, distributor wouldn't take it. I used one of my previous short film's audio.

In my case, I just want to establish that the character is watching TV, so any scene is fine. In your case, if you need any specific scene, may be, you can record the scene yourself with different lines (only the audio) and use it.
 
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I have created numerous "copy-cat" pieces for projects on which I did the audio post. I've done voices and theme music for TV (when not seen) and radio newscasts; I combined and rewrote the copy from real newscasts so we did not infringe upon copyrights. I've done VO for non-existent documentaries and commercials. I've done sound-alike songs. I also had a character playing a game on his smartphone. The line was "They are some really angry birds." I created music and sound effects that sounded similar to the actual Angry Birds and no one even noticed it was a sound-alike, they just wanted to know what level it was.
 
How do you check whether the movie or music is public domain? Are there any websites for that?

List of films in the public domain in the United States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_in_the_public_domain_in_the_United_States

You can also check out films on the Prelinger Archives.

https://archive.org/details/prelinger


But remember that it's not that simple. Even though the film may be in the public domain, the score may not be in the public domain.

I know that you probably want an inexpensive solution, but these issues can be extremely complex, so a consultation with an entertainment attorney is highly recommended.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
But remember that it's not that simple. Even though the film may be in the public domain, the score may not be in the public domain.

Woahhh

clarity.png
 
Thanks for the replies guys, I take copyright matters seriously and don't want to gain a reputation of being a cowboy, the last thing I want is a bad rep in the industry i'm trying to break into. The film i'm hoping to use a scene from is a Japanese animation called End Of Evangelion, not exactly a Hollywood feature but still well known especially in Japan. I've actually since located the licensing department of production company who made the film and have sent them an email, we'll see what happens.

Thanks for those links and resources above, even if i'm not able to license the scene I want I can probably find something on the public domain that does the same thing, or as another suggested even shoot it myself, could be a rewarding little side project. I try and create my own foley libraries whenever I can, so why not this? To be honest it's a pretty obscure scene anyway and i'd say that 99.9% of the general audience wouldn't get the reference or make a connection anyway lol
 
The film i'm hoping to use a scene from is a Japanese animation called End Of Evangelion, not exactly a Hollywood feature but still well known especially in Japan. I've actually since located the licensing department of production company who made the film and have sent them an email, we'll see what happens.

I would recommend finding another film you want to use ASAP. Japanese studios do not give the rights to things for free or cheap. It'd be great if they said yes to your project, but companies here in Japan are very protective of their IP's. Especially when it's such a huge property as Evangelion.
 
I would recommend finding another film you want to use ASAP. Japanese studios do not give the rights to things for free or cheap. It'd be great if they said yes to your project, but companies here in Japan are very protective of their IP's. Especially when it's such a huge property as Evangelion.

Yeah I was worried about that. I can film something myself I guess it'll be a fun little challenge :)
 
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