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Old 11-23-2004, 04:35 AM   #1
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Default Puss in Boots

I see where a spec script was sold called “Puss in Boots” to Dreamworks on 11-19-04 based on the cat from “SHREK 2". My question is this.

Is it acceptable to write a spec based on a character other than the lead of an existing store? I`m sure there are others out there that have watched a film and saw a potential story in a secondary character such as in the example above.

I`m just learning the ropes of the writing game so any input will be appreciated.


Timothy M.
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Old 11-23-2004, 02:42 PM   #2
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Hi Timothy-

No, it's not acceptable. Even the rights to secondary characters are owned and protected by studios/companies and their lawyers.

This is from the Done Deal FAQ-

Can I write a script containing characters owned by other parties. For example, Superman, The Crow, etc.?
You can, but you won't be able to really do anything with it.* And more than likely at best it will end up being a writing sample.* If you are planning on writing a script based on someone else's ideas, characters, or stories get the rights.* Or at least option them.* If you absolutely don't care what happens with your script and you're just righting for the fun of it and don't plan on showing anyone then yes you can write about anything you want, but if you are going to start sending it out or hope to sell it then you better have the rights.
Hope this helps!
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Old 11-23-2004, 11:56 PM   #3
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Puss in Boots is a character in literature that has been around for many, many years. The character is more than likely public domain like Robin Hood or the magic mirror.

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Old 11-24-2004, 01:49 AM   #4
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Default Do what you want with Public Domain characters

ditto R28's comments, with respect to public domain stories and characters.

Dreamworks borrowed Puss and Boots from the public domain and wedded it to a story based on a character under copyright--Shrek. But you can borrow public domain characters for yourself, too. Nothing stopping you.

Disney did a substantial amount of its business creating movies around public domain characters and stories: SNOW WHITE, SLEEPING BEAUTY, CINDERELLA etc.

However, if the secondary characters you're referring to are still under copyright protection, you can't use them without permission.
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Old 11-24-2004, 02:17 AM   #5
Evil Elf the One and Only
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Default Re: Do what you want with Public Domain characters

The first printed version of Puss 'n Boots was written by Charles Perrault and published in 1687. According to SurLaLune, the story itself was around as oral history for much longer. Yes, it's safely public domain.

Disney (as an example) gets shirty when people use recognizably Disney versions of public domain characters. An example would be the dancing Snow White on the Oscars, the one who boogied with Rob Lowe; frankly, it was so bad I'm surprised the Brothers Grimm didn't sue as well. The issue there was the costume, makeup, and hairstyle were meant to be, and were, recognizably derivative of the Disney version, rather than the original character. As long as you don't use any unique Disneyish, Dreamworksish or other new, recognizable and proprietary tweaks, you should be fine. Boots, for instance, are okay. Even really cool pirate boots. Just go back to the original source, rather than copy from what people have done since.

But For God's Sake No Rob Lowe Duets!
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Old 11-26-2004, 10:27 AM   #6
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Default Can't assume all sales are specs

I'm pretty sure the Puss and Boots sale was not a spec, but instead, a writing assignment. Dreamworks found writers they were familiar with and paid them to write it.
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Old 12-04-2004, 05:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Can't assume all sales are specs

interestingly enough, in the original version, Puss is French, but Antonio Banderes was brilliant with it.
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