Thursday, November 09, 2006

The first rule of awards screeners is you do not talk about awards screeners

Thanks to my membership in the fabulous Las Vegas Film Critics Society, I get inundated with "For Your Consideration" screeners starting around the beginning of November through about mid-December. (Also the occasional soundtrack/score CD, and even some screenplays.) Right around the time I first joined the LVFCS, studios were all up in arms about how to combat piracy of screeners, and this led to some studios not sending them out, others using watermarks and one (Disney) even sending some groups (not ours, though) screeners that would only play in specially made DVD players that they also sent out.

Well, the furor has died down a little, and most studios are just sending regular DVDs with watermarks, but they are still very, very paranoid about movies leaking onto the Internet, and every package comes with a warning about how if you post the movie online, they will track you with the watermark and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. But the level of ridiculousness goes even further than that. The letter I got from Fox Searchlight today with my screeners of Thank You for Smoking and The Last King of Scotland had this paragraph on "disposing of screeners" after the standard warning about fines and jail time:

If you want to discard the screeners after reviewing it for awards consideration, please securely destroy them so your personal copies do not fall into the wrong hands. The easiest way is to just take a pair of household scissors and cut the discs in half.

Clearly, in order to protect the movies, we must destroy them. I think we are only a year or two away from "This awards screener will self-destruct in 30 days, or after the Oscar nominations have been announced, whichever comes first."

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