So a guy is trying to take credit for my film...

TLDR- Scroll down to THE THIEVERY

My name is Mike- I make films under the name "M dot Strange" and I have done so for the past 10+ years- this is my story as a filmmaker culminating in a recent event wherein a "filmmaker" tried to take credit for my life's work
Here's my imdb page with my film credits 
My web site

Here's a reel with stuff from my original films in which I wrote/created/designed/animated etc everything that you see-


I can and have performed all aspects of animated film production on my films- thats sort of how I made a name for myself- by being a one man animated film studio

Here's a presentation from 2014 with me discussing the production of my last film


My first animated feature film "We Are The Strange" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007
Sundance archives link
Article about the film
Link to the film
Film's site

Because of the buzz that film generated I was given offers to sell the film to distributors and I was approached by a major studio about directing a film for them- Since the deals went against everything that I stood for because I wanted to NOT include DRM or copy protection and I wanted to eventually release the film for free online- Which I did in 2008 as you can see here 

I got to see first hand- the hype-the cluelessness and desperation in the indie film scene- no one knew anything- they just followed whatever had the most buzz- AND as I later shared in several presentations I have most all of the "buzz" is manufactured by those people themselves- like setting aside $10,000 to buy all the tickets you can in the theater where your premiere is so you can fill it with "your people" who will cheer and clap and cry to coerce film distributors to buy the film- they were seriously doing this-

And from what I was told apparently this works/worked- I declined that offer of course as I wanted my films to make it/break it based on their own merit not some fakery

Much to the surprise to the "professionals" around me at the time since people started walking out of the film because its fucking weird- the film got a somewhat positive review in Variety which you can see here- so they got some offers to buy the film

The people I was in contact didn't love film and didn't know/care much about it- I was naive to believe that these people in the film business would be in it for any other reason than greed- but they were and I wasn't so I walked away from the potential deals and the business itself- Here's a 2008 talk I gave in Berlin wherein I discuss that experience in depth

That film played all over the world and because of it I got to travel to 20+ countries to show the film, do presentations and meet fans of the film which was awesome- on one of these trips I met the woman who I eventually married in 2013 in Iceland and I met several people who are still my friends to this day- all that was way better than any movie deal that would have just given me some money and helped my film "career" whatever that means-

So I walked away from the film business stuff and went back to my hometown of San Jose, Ca to start on my second animated feature film which was called "Heart String Marionette"  The film was released in 2012... I started work on the film alone-

The film's site is here

The film can be seen in its entirety for free here on youtube

Here's a filmmaker magazine link about the film from 2011

Production on the film started in 2008- here's a 2008 post from this blog where I announce the start of production-

So I started pre-production of the film in late 2007-  in 2008 I was introduced to a composer named Endika and from then on the film was a collaboration between he and I-

I created the script, story, mythology, art- everything visual- he created the music and we worked together at several key points in the film discussing and debating parts of script- especially the ending as to how it should go- long story short I wanted a "dark" ending- he wanted a more uplifting ending so we worked together to come up with the ending that is on the film now- because of his contributions as I look back I should have given him an "assistant director" credit because he was an integral part of what the film came to be- He really did bring the tenderness and a lot of heart to the film- and he convinced me to write a more uplifting end to the film- So I should have given him an assistant director credit or acknowledged his contributions in some way other than "Music by"

That was not included out of spite or greed- since I had so much to do and was working to meet specific deadlines I forgot to do a few things including forgetting to add a credit for a small voice part in the end credits- I'm not perfect but I'm not trying to cheat anyone and I never have-

The film went a year+ over the time I wanted to spend on it- so towards the end I just wanted to get it done- I had no more energy for the project so instead of shelving it and waiting I released it and I don't regret that-

Endika was never happy with the final film and still isn't- I felt really guilty about that- shortly after it was released in 2012- Endika, myself and our girlfriends got together for drinks- the night ended with me crying my eyes out and begging him to forgive me for fucking everything up, telling him I loved him and puking all over my girlfriend 0_o

I did feel that way- because the film was he and I working together and I felt that I failed him as he wasn't happy with the film- but my crying, begging and puking got that out of my system as I put it all out there...literally 0_o

So I was responsible for the projects inception- the story- the characters-everything that you see besides some 2d art supplied by two different artists- I even wrote a book that details the films mythology and the making of



Just so no one gets confused as to WHO created everything visual and the mythology and story of the film here is a free download of that book so you can see for yourself- I wanted to include a section on the music- I asked Endika to write his part of the book- he missed the deadline and never gave me anything so it was not included-

So long story less long- the film was released in the summer of 2012- The film was sold online through a site I made and I split the proceeds with Endika 50/50 as that was our verbal agreement- the film in no way made us rich- not at all-

I wasn't doing it for the money but it was disappointing to make so little money- BUT I create these things to create- because its my passion- its my expression- my message- the thing I want to put out into the world- it went out and there were people who really loved it so I was happy-


Since making Heart String Marionette was such a long draining experience to create- For my next film I wanted to make a simple straight forward film and do it fast since I had spent 4 years on Heart String Marionette-

I didn't collaborate with Endika on this film- I had planned to get a budget so I could hire him to make sure he got paid well- but the kickstarter failed so there was no real budget- so I went ahead and did it on my own- here is a screen cap from the budget breakdown section


So since I had no real budget I went ahead and made the film in one year- In January 2014 I released I am Nightmare- here's the trailer...


You can view the whole film for free here-

After that film I quit making films and went into making video games in 2014-  I'm working on my first big game now -you can play my first 4 games here-

Now since Endika was unhappy with Heart String Marionette he wanted to create his own silent version of the film which I was all for- In late 2012 I started working with him on it- sitting with him making all the small changes he wanted to the edit- after a short time doing this I could tell it would take a LONG time-

So I gave him all the clips from the film and taught him how to use Adobe Premiere so he could edit it himself as thats the only thing that made sense to me because of all the minute changes he wanted to implemented- I was excited to see his silent version of the film- that was 2012-

THE THIEVERY

So I heard NOTHING about this silent version of my film 2012 film Heart String Marionette until yesterday 3-4-2015 when I received this comment on youtube on the Heart String Marionette trailer
I had never heard of "The Silent" no one told me what it was or how it was done or that it had been submitted it to film festivals- so I went to the Cinequest film festival for the film and found this page which Cinequest how now changed the credits-

Originally the credits on that page read:

Director: Endika
Producer: Arya Ghavamian
Screenwriter: M dot Strange + Endika
Music: Endika
Editor: Arya Ghavamian

So I was like ok this must be the Silent version Endika edited but who the fuck is Arya Ghavamian? And why is Endika listed as "Director" alone? With this other guy as editor and producer whom did nothing on the production and I've never even met him?

So I googled that guy and found this Facebook post of his
He has since removed this post- 

"My" film he says?! His collaboration with Endika?! Who the fuck is this guy?! I had no idea who he is?! So I called Endika a few times but he wasn't answering his phone-

I searched and found this guy Arya Ghavamian had created an imdb page for "The Silent"

In that entry which I was NOT CREDITED AT ALL yet he credited HIMSELF as editor, producer and ANIMATOR!


This was absolutely fucking ridiculous! I was so pissed I was literally shaking-

So after a little more digging- I realized/remembered that this guy had a film in that same festival last year and that Endika had done the music- just as I was about to load the machete I got for Xmas into my bike bag and go looking for Endika and this guy he contacted me

The guy was "freaking out" because I and apparently many of you were in contact with him online...

After talking to Endika for a few hours I came to understand that- "The Silent" was indeed Endika's silent edit BUT Endika had asked this guy Arya Ghavamian to help him promote/edit this silent version BUT THEN the guy sorta went nuts and got very opportunistic wanting to use this silent version of Heart String Marionette to further HIS CAREER taking as much credit as he could grab for things he did not do- a typical greedy douchebag move

So this guy starting editing it and took control of the film fest submission process- he sent a version to Endika which Arya Ghavamian credited HIMSELF AS DIRECTOR- Endika told him HELL NO apparently then the guy convinced him that this was TOTALLY DIFFERENT from Heart String Marionette and that Endika is the director so it was credited to him in the submissions/imdb of course I took issue with this 0_o

Apparently this guy has been talking to distributors trying to sell this film as his own as well- so if you have any connections to any film people who have heard of this film please let them know that Arya Ghavamian does not have any rights to "The Silent" or Heart String Marionette- he's a shyster trying to take credit/make money/further his career from something he had nothing to do with-

After talking to Endika who would not put me in direct contact with this guy who had not responded to ANY of of emails and/or tweets- he got the guy to first edit then remove the facebook post- add me to the imdb credits as animator which is still ridiculous as he left himself for animation and editing- and edit the film festival site credits- I got in contact with the film festival to remove the film from the fest as well- this is what they said

Thanks to everyone who emailed and tweeted at Cinequest btw ^_^

Also Endika sent me a link to a private vimeo link of "The Silent" on this Arya guys Vimeo page- its "his" film so of course it would be on his account 0_0

I flipped through it- it is NOT a totally different version- it is %100 Heart String Marionette with minor edits and with no dialogue/sound effects- just music-

I left these comments on it for the guy to see



Shortly after he changed the private link password- but I had already downloaded it and left those comments-

So this guy was going to steal my work passing it off as his own AND even come into the town I LIVE IN to show it at a film festival here?!

How clueless is this dude? He must understand how the internet works 0_0 I was going to see it and then what? Was he hoping to have already helped his career with it or made money/connections with it?

He's now trying to hide his thievery by deleting/editing things but the screen caps are here to see- if I would have never seen it I'm sure he wouldn't have been in such a hurry to give me credit. Just a hunch.

Well the truth is the truth- I have presented my side of the story here with documents to support it- this person Arya Ghavamian was/is attempting to steal my work and profit from it as his own- this will stay online forever so every time someone googles his name they will find this-

His failure to respond to me makes him seem even shadier- no "sorry" for saying he animated my film? Thats a HUGE SLAP IN MY FACE TO ME AS AN ANIMATOR - Nothing- no response- he probably just wants to pretend he didn't do what he did- but he did it and tried to get away with it.

When you submit a film to a festival it asks you if you own the rights to show/distribute it- he LIED about this as he no rights- so film festivals take note! Arya Ghavamian is lying to you with "The Silent"

Endika told me the guy had submitted it to Sundance as well but it was rejected- this guy?! 0_0

So I posted my side of things here- I hope the guy stops this and learns from it- I'm going to assume he has stopped but if he doesn't I'll upload "The Silent" further documenting this and letting you decide if its a "whole different thing" containing his animation apparently though I can't find it in the film- I'll also send it out to film press which I don't think will be good for his career.

I'm not even close to being rich or famous- The only thing I really have are my original creations- so when this guy is trying to steal the only thing I really have to show for my life- I'm not going to just let him.

Thanks for reading-

UPDATE 1: The film festival he entered, Cinequest- has banned him for life and will now play Heart String Marionette instead ^_^

Thanks to all of you for your help and support- I hope I can repay you some how- I hope some of you can make it to the festival to see the film on a big screen and hang out here in my home town- the festival is called Cinequest and is in early March-

UPDATE 2: Shortly after putting up this blog post I got contacted by someone from San Jose I didn't know- he asked to remain private but he confirmed the guy is a thief and had stolen credit from a friend of his on another film

Also check this comment on this post

I checked that out and it looks like a film made by someone else- and if you go to this kickstarter page wherein Arya Ghavamian raised 14k there is NO CREDIT on that video making it seem as if he is the sole creator- -

To cap it all off here's an interview(Thanks for the link Adam) with the guy where he's boasting about "doing everything" when it comes to making "his" films

Here he is LYING THROUGH HIS TEETH about "his" next film- this dude SOOOOO SLIMY

I'll leave you with this photo from his Facebook page which I have made into a "Thievin poser filmmaker" meme

Comments

  1. we got your back, dood! This pube ain't gonna pull this shit and get away with it

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  2. Hi Mike,

    I think it might be worth speaking to either Scott Macaulay over at Filmmaker or Lance Weiler as I believe the IFP can help filmmakers fight this stuff legally. If you decided to go this route it would send a message to the indiefilm community that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Or at the very least, a story on filmmakermag.com would achieve similar.

    I wish this kind of stuff was extremely rare, but unfortunately, you aren't the only person to be fucked over in this manner.

    I'm so glad to read this post and find out just what the hell happened, because I had visions of you massacring those responsible! ;) But seriously, I felt awful for you, and I know what it is to be kicked in the guts like this.

    Now, as before, you have constantly shown your integrity & love for creativity and ideas. This is one of your best ever posts.

    Best,

    Adam

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  3. Another thing, I hope Cinequest programme the original cut of 'Heart String Marionette' in this year's festival. It deserves a much bigger audience. IMO it is your best film.

    Adam

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  4. ARGH! What a JERKFACE!
    He was practically kidnapping your child!
    I'm glad you stopped it before it went any further!

    ...Does this mean we have to start watermarking our videos now? lol

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  5. We're your army of Weird-os dude! we watch out for each other and for you! can't have this bullshit stand!

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  6. What an asshole! I wonder how he though he could get away with this. Let us know if we can do anything to help dude.

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  7. Dude, this is only going to HELP you. This guy's life is ruined now, and everyone who followed him is going to jump on the Mdot bandwagon. Shitty circumstances ya, but I think haters and fakers are only going to fuel support for you. And we're for suresy putting this story in our next magazine. Though we might forget to mention the guy's name. Rock on man!

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  8. Perfect Ending though... this chode got permaBANNED and Heart String Marionette got put in the fest as a replacement.

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  9. He also stole Democracy is only the Beginning from filmmaker Franklin Pham. He used that video to fund his kickstarter.

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  10. So I just watched the interview video.
    "This Japanese samurai finds this kid in a box and decides to avenge him and kills the emperor."
    Shit, he's struggling to describe the film he supposedly made entirely by himself.

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  11. Something else that is quite funny is that not only does this douche like to steal peoples credits, he also extends this to stealing other filmmakers actual credit sequences..

    Watch the incredibly pretentious and derivative trailer to his Kickstarter funded feature film "Happenings of the Eighth Day' (if you can bear it).

    https://vimeo.com/86640478

    The style and typefaces he uses are exact copies of those used by notorious Argentine/French filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Enter the Void).

    Add to that the shameless cribbing from Malick, Fellini and Godard. This guy hasn't got a single original idea of his own! :D

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  12. So glad this sorry hipster got banned. Tried to take credit for years of work but in the end got what he deserved.

    WildberryPopTarts, aka tony

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  14. What a fucking nightmare. You have a community of people who love your work and want to help. I'll do everything I can to make sure the world knows this guy is a thief. Oh, man, I am so pissed. Terrible situation.

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  15. I'm glad this thief was caught and now HSM will be showing at the Cinequest Film Festival! I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you but I'm really happy that so many people had your back and helped catch the guy red handed. By the way your MEME was perfect! I really did laugh out loud :)

    P.S. We are the Strange is still one of my favorite films. Thank you for making it.

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  16. Wow this guys looks closer to 50 rather than mid 20's (unless that's a lie as well)

    Apparently being a grease-ball poser REALLY puts the years on you :)

    [Vanity Fair piece is down.. hmmm, interesting turn of events]

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  17. What a twat! Gotta say, I can't see why anyone could think they could get away with stealing one of your films especially. You have SUCH a distinct style- what's yours is very very obviously yours! Nobody would buy his crap anyway :P
    You keep being a badass! I fucking LOVE your stuff!!

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