More on "Escape From Tomorrow," the guerrilla art-house movie shot at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

The New York Times's Brooks Barnes has some tantalizing details on "Escape From Tomorrow," the art-house movie I blogged about yesterday, which was shot in part at Walt Disney World and Disneyland:

His cast and crew spent about 10 days filming at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and two weeks at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., he said. The end credits cite the involvement of over 200 cast and crew members, although only small groups entered the Disney parks at one time to avoid drawing attention.

Still, there were moments during filming that Disney clearly knew something was up, Mr. Moore said. “I think they probably just thought we were crazy fans making a YouTube video, which is something that happens a fair amount,” he said. He added, “Look, I have amazing memories as a kid from going to the parks. I think Walt Disney was a genius. I just wish his vision hadn’t grown into something quite so corporate.”

Barnes (and the headline writer) focus on whether this infringes Disney's copyright. Judging from what I've read about the film, this sounds like fair use to me. Film insurers routinely require that filmmakers go far beyond what copyright demands and act as though fair use doesn't exist, but the Stanford Fair Use Center has an insurer that will extend coverage to any film that complies with its broad, sensible fair use guidelines.

There's a possible trademark claim, and I suppose that Disney could conceivable bring suit for violating the park's terms of use, but these are much harder cases to make than copyright, and don't have built-in, easy Internet censorship in the form of DMCA takedown notices.

Disney World Horror Fantasy Raises Knotty Copyright Issues (Thanks, Jim!)

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  1. So, one way to ensure this film isn’t suppressed is for tightwad paupers like me to share a torrent of it…

    Couldn’t manage to dig one up yesterday, though : (

  2. “The movie, while careful to leave out certain copyrighted material (like the It’s a Small World song), would seem to test the limits of fair use in copyright law. ”

    Ironically, of all the music in the parks, “it’s a small world” is the ONE song that isn’t copyrighted! It was given to “the children of the world” by Disney and UNICEF.

  3. Calling this a “guerrilla movie” is a little silly. They shot this with nice DSLRs and did a very fine job, but every third person at WDW has a camera up to their face constantly, and you can’t throw a rock on YouTube without seeing movies shot all over the parks.

    Unless they documented themselves doing something like sneaking backstage, getting off rides in mid-ride, or damaging parts of the park, this seems like fair use and won’t be an issue.

      1. Yes, thank you, I’m aware of Wikipedia.
        The term usually refers to something done covertly, illegally, and without permission — such as filming in public places or sneaking into buildings. My point is that if you’re going to make a ‘guerrilla film’, WDW is probably the easiest place in the world to do so, because everyone’s got a camera and they encourage you to film and photograph while you’re there. You can film your actors right out in the open and nobody will blink an eye. Making it look professionally shot and choreographed — that’s the real trick, and if they do indeed pull that off, it’s what’ll be impressive.

  4. “There’s a possible trademark claim, and I suppose that Disney could conceivable bring suit for violating the park’s terms of use…”

    Ok, but isn’t that now a felony?

  5. So, is it actually any fun to go to Disney with your family any more, or does it feel like a hollow version of what we enjoyed when we were young?

  6. While the Disney company had grown much larger than Walt could’ve ever imagined this quote from the filmmaker: “I think Walt Disney was a genius. I just wish his vision hadn’t grown into something quite so corporate.” seems misguided at best. Many of Walt’s dreams were corporate in their very nature. 

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