Introducing Eastern Script
January 10, 2020
We recently welcomed Eastern Script as the newest vendor in the FC Marketplace! We couldn’t be more pleased to have them.
We chatted with Eastern Script’s owner and founder, Anne Marie Murphy. After completing an undergraduate degree cum laude in English Literature from Bowdoin College, Anne Marie worked at various jobs in the film industry in both Boston and Los Angeles before completing a Master’s degree summa cum laude at the UCLA Film School (Critical Studies).
Opening Eastern Script in 1993, she launched the first script clearance house to exist outside of Los Angeles county. She has been a full member of AIIP for over 20 years (“an essential resource for its more than 400 info entrepreneur members located in over 20 countries around the world”) and is a voting member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
Tell us about your company’s services and the distinction between your various offerings?
We offer two products: script clearance reports and title searches.
In a script clearance report — those are for fictional narrative projects — we provide a breakdown of scripted story elements (cast list, business names, product names, etc.) and we research them to ensure that they are “clear/not clear” for use. We’re looking for invasion of privacy, defamation, trademark issues, copyright issues, inaccurate comments, etc. Those reports are not needed for non-fiction/documentary projects.
Documentaries do need our other product, though, which is a title search. You want to be sure that there are no issues with the title you have selected before the project is released. We look at a long list of project types (feature-length films, television, web series, short films, trademark and copyright registrations, published works (books/periodicals/etc.), plays, radio programs, music (album/song titles), article titles, domain names, etc. for possible matches to your project.
Why are your services crucial to the documentary filmmaking community?
It is not uncommon for a client to return to us with a second title search request after getting a full title search report because that report changed their mind about the title they had planned to use. With title search in hand, you’ll have a robust conversation with production counsel to figure out if the title is safe to proceed with. There are all kinds of things we might find that can present a problem, for example trademark registrations in classes 38/41 (film/tv projects) that might not be things you would necessarily find in an internet search or at IMDb.
Can you provide an anecdote or two about an instance where your company’s services were particularly helpful and important?
We have found all kinds of problems with titles over the years. You don’t want to get a difficult letter from an irate trademark holder when your project first shows up at a streaming service or in broadcast listings. So the help we provide is in conflict avoidance. It’s important to your insurer to know that there aren’t going to be any unwelcome surprises upon the film’s release.
How did you come to be involved in this line of work?
I kicked around at a few different types of jobs in the film industry (exhibition, distribution) after finishing my undergraduate degree then eventually decided I wanted to take things to another level. So off I went to film school at UCLA where I got a Master’s degree in film history/criticism. Research had always been an interest of mine, both at my jobs and during that film degree. I like finding things out. So I got a job doing this specific type of legal research for the film/television industry after finishing at UCLA. I worked for a company in Burbank that produces clearance reports.
After a few years there, I wanted to move back east and decided to start a company that provides clearance reports to the rest of the country. That was in 1993. There was no one doing clearance report work outside of Los Angeles County at that time. The business slowly grew, we added title searches, and somehow almost 27 years have passed.