The biggest issue here is that an independent film was made, using guerrilla filmmaking methods, on Disney property.
Obviously, there will be opinions on both sides here because of that. Some say he should have gotten permission, like most professional filmmakers would do, others applaud his ingenuity at bypassing the entire process of obtaining permission, in pursuit of his artistic vision (regardless of whether or not one agrees with that vision).
Legally, sure, given not only the filmmaker's deliberate avoidance of obtaining official permission but also the film's content, it's very unlikely, given Disney's (in)famous legal department, that the film will ever see the light of day through any traditional (i.e., moneymaking) distribution methods (its best option is for the filmmaker to simply release it online for free).
But guerrilla filmmaking itself is not necessarily improper (although it might sometimes skirt minor legalities), and it has resulted in some very good films, and helped to create careers.
Guerrilla filmmaking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
, directed by Melvin Van Peebles
, was funded and distributed outside of the Hollywood
system and broke conventions with its visual style, as well as its content. Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It
was a guerrilla film on a budget of $175,000 which made $7,137,502 at the box office. This highly stylized film received much acclaim. It was Spike Lee's first feature length film and inspired Spike Lee to write the book Spike Lee's Gotta Have It: Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking
shot the action film El Mariachi
, inspired by John Woo
films. El Mariachi
, which was shot for around $7,000 with money partially raised by volunteering in medical research studies, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival
in 1992. The film, originally intended for the Spanish-language low-budget home-video market, was distributed by Columbia Pictures
in the United States
. Rodriguez described his experiences making the film in his book Rebel Without a Crew
. The book and film inspired legions of hopeful filmmakers to pick up cameras and make no-budget movies. Pi
, directed by Darren Aronofsky
, was made on a relatively low budget of $60,000. It proved to be a financial success at the box office ($3.2 million gross in the U.S.) despite only a limited release to theaters. Aronofsky raised money for the project by selling $100 shares in the film to family and friends, and was able to pay them all back with a $50 profit per-share when the film was sold to Artisan.
----------- Looking For Kitty
is a 2004 written, directed, and starring Edward Burns
. The film was shot with a hand held $3,000 digital Panasonic AG-DVX100
camera with a Mini35
adapter. The film's entire budget was $200,000
and was filmed in New York City
with a tiny crew and without standard permits. Burns discussed this unusual film-making process in the director's commentary on the DVD.
------------ Paranormal Activity
directed by first time director Oren Peli
and filmed in his house with one camera for a budget of just $15,000 most of which he said was spent on "a camera and new furniture". It went on to make a gross revenue of $153,469,744
Still, it's generally not recommended to avoid obtaining filming permits, especially on private property. But the reality of guerrilla filmmaking is that sometimes, shots have to be "stolen" (unauthorized). Depending on the film and the shots in question, this may or may not affect a film project's chances at distribution.
POV-How to Become A Guerrilla Filmmaker
We said before that the Guerrilla Filmmaker will sometimes break the little laws. What kinds of little laws? One big one is the law of getting permission to shoot something. This happens all the time.
One way to get around it is to get a release or permit. You can get release forms from any production handbook and permits usually from the municipality within which you shoot. But sometimes you have to steal shots and that's the way it is, although being a G-rated website we can't say we support that.
Also, a Guerrilla Filmmaker can look for places to film that don't require releases or permits. This in fact might be the easier, hassle-free way to go. Rather than seek to buck the system, work around it. See what you can get for free legally. This will apply to visuals and, as described already, music as well.
Staying legal is a good thing in case ultimately you happen to get a distributor who will hassle you endlessly to make sure you got all the rights cleared for your film. If you don't do this, or haven't done it, a distributor is less likely to acquire your film.
The press this fellow has gotten from entering his film at Sundance has more to do with Sundance attendees and attending journalists being impressed with his boldness and daring in avoiding the entire film permit process in order to film his movie in a Disney park (which is no doubt expensive, and can easily be denied - remember that National Lampoon's Vacation had to invent "Walley World" and "Roy Walley," even though the original story by John Hughes was about a 1958 trip to Disneyland). Most freely admit, as does the filmmaker, that it's very unlikely he'll get a distribution deal from this, which means it's very unlikely the film will ever be commercially available.