1. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Paying Homage

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by zoupskim, Jan 30, 2015.

    In the book I am trying to write I want to pay homage to one of my favorite scenes from a movie. I want to be clear that I am referencing this scene. The dialog and actions in my book are written to mirror the movie, and my intention is that anyone who has seen the movie will instantly recognize it. This is not just a throwaway scene. I plan for it to be something serious that drives one of my character's motivations.

    I was wondering if anyone had any experience doing this? If you like an idea, scene, image, quote, anything really, how do you show it in your own work respectfully? Would it be considered plagiarism to actually have someone else's work, their dialog, actions, etc. help flesh out my characters?
     
  2. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    As for the legal etc. aspects of this, someone else needs to answer your questions, but I just want to say that it's important that you consider your audience in relation to the work you're referencing: you run the risk of alienating a huge part of your readers if something they neither know nor care about suddenly happens to be a big and important part of your work, and especially if your story doesn't readily make sense without having watched the film.
     
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  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, unless the dialog, actions, etc were so generic that they could not be considered covered by copyright or trademark (two different sets of rules, BTW). In other words, the more closely the object of your affections is associated to your writing, the more likely the chances of a copyright violation (very expensive to defend, even if you win). You would generally need a release from the owner of the copyright or trademark, and such releases are generally contingent on the payment of a fee.

    My own view is that this notion of "paying homage" through imitation is the mark of a very novice writer. Bjornar (above) points out the concern from the perspective of readership. But from the perspective of the writer, making the telling of your story so heavily dependent on the telling of someone else's story, no matter how great it might have been, can only inhibit your ability to develop your own writing "chops" and the ability of your own writing to stand on its own. Besides, if the movie (and please don't tell us which one) is so terrific, I'm sure it's already garnered its share of kudos.
     
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  4. CedricMiddorick
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    CedricMiddorick Member

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    If the movie's out of copyright (or if the movie is based on a book out of copyright), then by all means pay homage. Elsewise, the only homage you should do is write "Johnny was watching [insert movie title here]".
     
  5. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the film is famous enough, then your readers should recognise the "homage" without specific mention or use of copyrighted material. At most, one of your characters only needs to say something like, "Why does this all seem so familiar?" and then dismiss it. Anything more obvious would be getting into the territory of fan fiction.
     
  6. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Plagiarism has nothing to do with whether or not you borrow material; it has everything to do with whether or not you acknowledge where that material comes from, in a context where you are expected to, e.g. an academic context with standards of citation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
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  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I read about someone - right now I can't remember who it was - who said that he used an entire scene from a movie he liked, in his book (I guess what he meant was the lines of dialogue), but spread out throughout the story, not all at once. One reader recognized one line from it and wrote to the author telling him so, and he informed her that the entire scene was in the book. I thought that was pretty hilarious, and maybe that is easier to get away with. I really like that idea myself :)
     

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