The evolution of the movie camera may be the real star of the very indie movie “Escape from Tomorrow” from writer/director Randy Moore. With so many critics blown away at how Moore was able to film a dark psychological fantasy inside Disney World and Disneyland without being caught, you can see what’s possible now in moviemaking. But we might as well give credit to the size of the camera in making that possible, plus a little ingenuity from the director in filming when no one was looking. No, not even Mickey Mouse or a live-action Disney character managed to scope out that something suspicious was happening.
With a theatrical and video-on-demand release for the film, talk has been rampant whether Disney will sue Moore over using Disney’s intellectual property without permission. Much of that talk is likely going to shift to legal directions after reports surfaced Disney probably won’t do anything and just avoid any connection to the film. With the words “fair use” coming up again, what does it mean for that legal concept after years of being one of the most confusing intellectual property laws?
Fair Use May Be Used More Often in Film
There may be a precedent set for fair use by Disney not pursuing litigation. It’s a strong statement when you have Disney letting fair use become something more than it ever has been. Even then, fair use has allowed far more usage of certain trademarked and copyrighted material than someone not attuned to IP laws might think. Now someone could take it further and go into a theme park or other location to make a film there within the context of fair use.
That could change the nature of film and perhaps create an interesting artistic movement. It might also be a godsend to Hollywood where the dearth of original ideas continues to evolve into never-ending sequels and remakes. Being able to take something familiar and turn it into something else would give the film world a fascinating way to place pop culture in a different context.
Seeing the landscape of Disney through the filter of a black and white psychological film noir already shows us the possibilities of what could be done. With “Escape from Tomorrow” possibly cited as a future legal example, we may see films taking place inside places like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Universal Studios. And plenty of other iconic places with trademarked brands exist where films could be made in secret.
The only issue is that those clandestine filmmakers will have to be a little more careful, because theme parks will be looking more carefully now. A chance of litigation also becomes less possible, especially if it’s an indie film with little chance of significant profit. When placed in the context of “Escape from Tomorrow”, the best use of fair use may finally be upon us.
No matter how right or wrong everything above is, you still have to wonder what Disney is really thinking.
Disney of Yore Might Have Embraced the Concept
There seems to be some evidence that Disney became a little intrigued by what Moore did. This goes by Disney recently acknowledging the film’s existence in their “A to Z” dictionary compiled by Disney archivist Dave Smith. When that happens, you have to wonder how Walt Disney would have reacted had he been alive today.
In his day, someone doing a creative tribute like that could have meant a partnership with Disney, even if a darker film would have been nixed at the studio in the 1950s and ’60s. Today’s Disney could still pick up distributorship of the film and probably make a strong profit in the process. After all, Disney already acknowledges their more adult side in film that has its own marketable niche.
Regardless of what they do, though, fair use is now changed in movies and much more available for filmmakers to use to their advantage. This can help along some different cinematic visions of popular brands as a form of Andy Warhol pop art. It’s the ultimate artistic test to see how we react when lifelong brands seared into our minds are seen through a new and fresh filmmaking lens.