July 31, 2008

2008 script winners named

Creative Spirit Winners 2008It's official. The winners for the 3rd Annual Creative Spirit short script competition were announced this past weekend at the Southern California Indian Center's (SCIC) 40th Annual Pow Wow held at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. The two winning writers, whose screenplays will be produced in late September, are Cody E. Harjo (Seminole) from Brooklyn, NY, and DeLanna Studi (Cherokee) from Venice, CA.

Earlier this year, Creative Spirit put out a nationwide call to Native American screenwriters for scripts falling into one of two categories--green and grindhouse. The green category was designated for stories dealing with environmental themes, while "grindhouse" referred to stories reflecting the rebellious spirit of low-budget genre films of the 60s and 70s.

Entries were received from all over the United States and were evaluated by a judging panel comprised of SCIC's InterTribal Entertainment, members of the Native film community and film industry professionals, including Emmy-winning director Arthur Allan Seidelman, Academy-award winning documentary filmmaker Victoria Mudd, screenwriter Travis Wright, producer Roberta Pacino, American Indians in Film and Television founder Sonny Skyhawk, producer Brian Wescott and journalist/critic Robert Schmidt. Each entry was reviewed by at least three judges and judging was blind (the title page identifying the writer was removed from each script).

Harjo won the green category for her script titled "The Migration," which is set in the future on an almost uninhabitable earth and tells the story of a brother and sister who are forced to flee for their lives carrying a small bag of seeds that will grow a new world. Studi won the grindhouse category for her script, "Doe Woman," which is a contemporary spin on a traditional Native American story and follows the journey of Laney Brewster, who works in a tribal office by day, but at night she emerges as Doe Woman to issue her own form of vigilante justice, writing wrongs and protecting all Indian kind.

The scripts are set to go before cameras on September 28 for three days of shooting, followed by three days of editing, with the world premiere scheduled for October 4, 2008. Creative Spirit is an employment and training initiative of SCIC and InterTribal Entertainment, which aims to provide more opportunities for Native American talent in the film industry. The four previously produced Creative Spirit films are currently on the film festival circuit and have been screened nationwide.

"The Creative Spirit program is continuing to grow," says ITE director James Lujan," and the main reason it's growing is because of the talent that's out there in the American Indian community. The overall quality of the scripts we received was very high."

This year's first runner up was Migizi Pensoneau for "Liminality." Honorable mentions went to Roberto A. Jackson for "Unrest," Tim Garcia for "Mr. Pearson's Crow," Nigel R. Long Soldier for "The Coming of Man," and Yvonne Fisher for "Checking Out."
Comment:  For the second year in a row, I'm glad to say the two winning scripts were among the eight I read. I don't know if that's a coincidence, I'm a persuasive judge/critic, or Lujan is intentionally sending me the most promising scripts.

Also for the second year in a row, I voted yes to one of the winners ("The Migration") and no to the other ("Doe Woman"). I also read and voted no to "Liminality," the first runner-up, and "The Coming of Man," an honorable mention.

Lujan and I discussed my votes via e-mail. I agreed with him that "Doe Woman" and "Liminality" were flawed but had a lot of potential. Perhaps the biggest problem facing Doe Woman is how she'll wear stiletto-heeled boots over her little doe's hooves.

With Lujan's and my critiques and a good rewrite, these scripts could work. We'll see how they turn out.

For more on the subject, see Creative Spirit Film Competition.

13 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Oh, wow! That one script is yet another version of 'The Deer Woman,' which already was produced on ShowTime's "Masters Of Horror." John Landis (the co-writer AND director) will be much interested in that particular production and writerfella has notified Landis (who is one of writerfella's contacts) today. writerfella already has said on this blogsite that lawsuits will be coming...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

FYI, I found and posted something on Landis's Deer Woman already. It's no secret.

But...what a surprise. Once again, you take the side of a white filmmaker against your own people. Thanks again for demonstrating how you shill for the powers-that-be in Hollywood.

Fortunately, Studi's "Doe Woman" is a completely independent version of the Deer Woman legend that has nothing to do with Landis's version. In case you're as ignorant of copyright law as you seem, you can't copyright ideas or titles. Therefore, Landis has no cause for action against Studi.

Yes, you have predicted that lawsuits are coming. I've counterpredicted that they aren't coming. Let's check back in a year and see who's right.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
writerfella knows The Millennium Copyright Act, and you don't. Yes, one may not copyright titles but they can be trademarked. And CONTENT is what becomes copyrighted, which is where court cases arise, especially in matters of similar properties where one version precedes another and thus reasonable time frame and cause for plagiarism can be shown to exist. "The Deer Woman" on ShowTime was in 2005. Then again, where copyrighted content is shown to be duplicated, there already exist legal avenues called 'restraint of trade' that the copyright owners can call into play without filing a lawsuit. Though writerfella knows of the Deer Woman and even has seen her, it's already been done...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

You don't even know the name of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, much less its content. As I proved in my comments on Skeet Shooting. Readers can review this posting to see if I'm right.

You don't know if Landis has trademarked the "Deer Woman" title. Even if he has, it's irrelevant since Studi's work is titled Doe Woman, not Deer Woman. So your trademark argument totally misses the mark.

You also don't know if Studi's Doe Woman has anything in common with Landis's Deer Woman. Again, you can't copyright or trademark an idea. Anyone is free to write a comic book, novel, play, TV show, or movie about the traditional Deer Woman legend.

Your "it's already been done" comment shows how ignorant you are. The idea has been done before, but not Studi's specific treatment of the idea. Incredibly, you don't understand the difference between concept and content. Studi's content is her own even if the concept is similar.

As I hinted in White Vampire Yes, Indian Werewolf No, there have been two recent movies and one recent comic book with the title "Skinwalker" or "Skinwalkers." Did any of the creators sue the others? No, because they understand copyright and trademark law, unlike you. Skinwalkers, werewolves, and deer women are all fair game for fiction.

Next you'll be telling us that the upcoming Twilight movie is a violation because it's similar to Underworld, Van Helsing, and other movies with vampires and werewolves. If so, you'll be as wrong in that case as you are in this case. Please tell us you aren't as simpleminded as you seem.

Alas, you've lost another debate, Russ. Thanks for playing the game, and be sure to pick up your consolation prize. Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Luckily, by your own admission, you did not vote for "Doe Woman." Thus, you are off the hook. Watch, as truth catches up with verities that you yourself now are refusing to acknowledge. BUT recall, as writerfella earlier has told you, the WGAw now knows your name, thanks to writerfella...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
You forget one thing, Rob. writerfella exists in the world of hard copy PUBLISHED written material, and you barely do. Thus, he MUST know what are the permissible parameters whereas you operate unawares. Do the math (or research) and you will find that the original bill passed by Congress did NOT contain the word, 'digital.'
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Luckily for writerfella, the original Millennium Copyright Act passed by Congress barely contained the word 'digital' in its context. And that is because Congress does not understand what that word has come to mean. You lose, Rob, even if Congress has amended the language of the original they passed, as all that happened was the extent of the original bill was EXPANDED...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

cd said...

Hey Rob- following writerfella's logic, can I sue John Landis for copyright infringement? Since my academic and creative work on Deer Woman was copyrighted and published in 1999 in "Through the Eye of the Deer" and in Joy Harjo's "How We Became Human" in 2002 as well as my poetry book "Outfoxing Coyote", published in 2002 PREDATE Landis' film by six and three years? BTW I've never seen Landis' film. I don't need another Hollywood reworking of a native legend turn a spirit from my cultures to tell me whsat the truth is. Delanna Studi, also Cherokee, has every right to make her Doe Woman film without threat of copyright infringement because the Deer Woman legends belong to the original storytellers from the southeastern tribes. Everything written by me is my interpretation of those legends and copyrighted in my name, as Doe Woman will be copyrighted in Delanna's. It her her interpretation of a legend from her tribe, rewritten as a living story in the way it was intended to survive.

ps- you need my permission to reprint the piece from "Deer Woman and the Living Myth of the Dreamtime" as per my agreement with Endicott. You may have it retroactively but *must* buy me a cup of coffee and next year's Comicon for your *slight* oversight on the manner. ;) Carolyn

Rob said...

Thanks for setting Russ straight on the copyright issue, Carolyn. Imagine claiming that the first person to write about a Native legend gets to prevent everyone else from writing about it. Nothing like that has occurred since the advent of US copyright law and it isn't about to occur now.

Rob said...

Russ, you're beginning to scare me. Please learn how to do a simple Internet search so you don't embarrass yourself any further.

Here's what you would've found if you had lifted a finger rather than sat on your ass: an official US document explaining the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

In case you're as ignorant as you seem, www.copyright.gov is the website of the US Copyright Office. Here, read it yourself and weep:

http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf

THE DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT OF 1998

U.S. Copyright Office Summary
December 1998

INTRODUCTION

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was signed into law by President Clinton on October 28, 1998. The legislation implements two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The DMCA also addresses a number of other significant copyright-related issues.

This memorandum summarizes briefly each title of the DMCA. It provides merely an overview of the law’s provisions; for purposes of length and readability a significant amount of detail has been omitted. A complete understanding of any provision of the DMCA requires reference to the text of the legislation itself.

Rob said...

The PDF helpfully adds the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's designation in the United States Code: Public Law No. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2860 (Oct. 28, 1998). If you weren't such a lazy old man, you could look it up online or in a library. But since you won't, you can take my word for it.

Meanwhile, let's note that you have nothing more to say about the substance of US copyright law. You don't know the newest law's name and you don't know what the applicable law says. Someone told you about copyrights once, I guess, and you think that makes you an expert.

In a year or so I'll be reporting on your laughable threat to sic John Landis on Doe Woman. I have $100 that says he won't file a lawsuit. If you’re not as chicken as you seem, put your money where your mouth is.

P.S. I thought you weren't interested in winning and losing, Russ. Why are you now (erroneously) telling me I lost? Can you say "hypocritical"?

Rob said...

Getting back to Doe Woman, I believe James Lujan passed along my critique to Delanna Studi. If she rewrites her script and it's a big hit, I'll be glad to take the credit. But if she ignores my comments and sticks with her submitted script, I'll be glad to avoid the blame. Either way, I'm covered. ;-)

Rob said...

P.S. I couldn't care less if the Writers Guild knows my name. And what possible difference would it make if I voted for Doe Woman? A judge in a contest has absolutely no responsibility for copyright or trademark issues. Duh.