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Old 02-10-2020, 03:21 PM   #1
liverbird
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Default An almost true story

Hi, guys.
I am writing a script based on events I saw when growing up in England. It will be a mixture of actual and made up situations. Does anyone know if there would be a problem for me to present this as a true story, or based on actual events? Is there any rule about how much of the story has to be true before you can claim based on a true story, or actual events?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:03 PM   #2
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Default Re: An almost true story

Quote:
Originally Posted by liverbird View Post
Hi, guys.
I am writing a script based on events I saw when growing up in England. It will be a mixture of actual and made up situations. Does anyone know if there would be a problem for me to present this as a true story, or based on actual events? Is there any rule about how much of the story has to be true before you can claim based on a true story, or actual events?
Thanks in advance.
I'm not a lawyer, and other people will probably give you more concrete advice. This sounds like a case of, "Inspired by..."

I don't think any courts official adjudicate how much of a story might be true. Where people get into problems is with libel and defamation. For example, the memoirist Augusten Burroughs wrote a memoir about his traumatic childhood. Part of his childhood he lived with his mother's friends. They did not agree with how they were depicted in the memoir and sued him. They ended up settling out of court.

https://www.pw.org/content/turcotte_..._scissors_suit

James Fry faced public humiliation for fabricating part of his memoir about going sober. (Something like that.) I don't think anyone sued him, except the court of public opinion.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documen...on-little-lies

So what matters is this -- are you going to write about public figures? You have more leeway but you want to be true to the events. If you do this, make sure you don't use one source for your info, or then you risk doing an unauthorized adaptation.

If you're going to dramatize real people who are private citizens, could they consider what you're doing libelous or defamatory?

Even if your depiction is positive, if you're featuring one person specifically, you may want to get permission. Because a private person can sue (I think) for invasion of privacy.

Those are the places I'd start.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: An almost true story

In the film The Strangers the film and the filmmaker states that the story is inspired by true events. The filmmaker confessed that the only event that was true is that as a child he and his sister were home alone after school when there was a knock at the door and a stranger asked for a person that did not live there. That’s the entirety of the “inspired by true events.”

It can be a powerful marketing tool. I remember this story, because at the time, I asked a friend to go see the film with me and she refused stating, she would have nightmares because it was based in true events. And even after I explained it to her, she still couldn’t get it out of her head.

I don’t think there are specific laws against using the terminology, but a quick google search could put your mind at ease.

If it is a problem, when the film goes through clearance it’ll be addressed if necessary. Just remember that we are talking g about events don’t specific people. With people there are privacy and defamation laws you have to be concerned with.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: An almost true story

Apropos of nothing The Strangers is just about the only movie that legitimately scared me as an adult.
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: An almost true story

Quote:
Originally Posted by liverbird View Post
Hi, guys.
I am writing a script based on events I saw when growing up in England. It will be a mixture of actual and made up situations. Does anyone know if there would be a problem for me to present this as a true story, or based on actual events? Is there any rule about how much of the story has to be true before you can claim based on a true story, or actual events?
Thanks in advance.
Read this from Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, & Machtinger, LLP “Law Law Land” Blog WHAT’S LEGAL IN L.A. AND BEYOND:
“Q&A: What’s the Difference Between a Movie That’s “Based On” a Book and a Movie That’s “Inspired By” One?”

Other articles:

“From the Archives: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Adapting Stories Based on Real Life”

“Based” on a True Story: Fact vs. Fiction in Screenwriting”

“‘Based on a true story’ It's the most overused tagline in cinema at the moment, but can we really believe it?”
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Last edited by TigerFang : 02-12-2020 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: An almost true story

Thanks for the replies, they are really appreciated.
Tigerfang - These links are very helpful, thank you.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: An almost true story

Quote:
Originally Posted by Satriales View Post
Apropos of nothing The Strangers is just about the only movie that legitimately scared me as an adult.
No sh!t, right? It was because is wasn't hiding in shadows. It was in your face, bright as any house, standing in your kitchen at home on the phone... and someone is in your house. Watching you.

Someone knocks on your door and the only reason the pick YOU, is because you answered the ****ing door. The end was horriryingly traumatic.

Just some kids, ****ing around-- getting away with murder.

Don't get scarier.
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:42 PM   #8
Satriales
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Default Re: An almost true story

Quote:
Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
No sh!t, right? It was because is wasn't hiding in shadows. It was in your face, bright as any house, standing in your kitchen at home on the phone... and someone is in your house. Watching you.

Someone knocks on your door and the only reason the pick YOU, is because you answered the ****ing door. The end was horriryingly traumatic.

Just some kids, ****ing around-- getting away with murder.

Don't get scarier.
And Mama Tried? Yowza!
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Old Yesterday, 05:56 PM   #9
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Default Re: An almost true story

Definitely Inspired By.
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