How We Did It: The Shaw Movie
In 2017 we helped the Sherard Shaw foundation for pediatric cancer research acquire and leverage a half million-dollar copyright. The cost to the foundation was zero dollars. Here’s how we did it.
First, we identified the opportunity. The foundation was formed to honor the memory of Coach Sherard Shaw, a charismatic high school football coach whose story was so dramatic that Hollywood would likely have rejected the script as too improbable. Though his story was completely true, it lived only in people’s memories and through word-of-mouth storytelling; having never been reduced to tangible format. The opportunity was to create a documentary movie told through the eyes of the people who knew Coach Shaw. The movie would allow the Foundation’s greatest asset, the story of Coach Shaw, to be consumed by a much larger audience, and consequently attract more contributors to the Foundation’s purpose of funding pediatric cancer research.
Next, we created the intellectual property. This was a complicated phase that involved sharp business strategy as well as artistic creativity. A detailed 18-month business plan and execution strategy was developed. Project funding was secured through the creation of slick presentation materials, a project website and social platforms, pre-release videos, and limited-edition collectible items.
The creative aspect of the project involved the careful selection and management of competent photographers, videographers, editors, graphic designers, and script writers. Each was selected based on their craftsmanship but also on their ability to strictly adhere to budgets and deadlines. Subject interviews for this project were conducted within the Frascogna IP studios, which is one of the most unique elements of our law firm.
Once the movie was complete, we then leveraged its copyright to the advantage of the foundation. This was accomplished through a VIP premier at Malco movie theater in front of a packed house, and covered by local press. Additional screenings were organized through licensing agreements with various outlets and every screening utilized printed handouts that educated viewers on the charitable purpose of the movie. An online order and fulfillment system was also designed and implemented so the foundation could sell DVD’s in exchange for a tax deductable donation.
Finally, we protected this valuable piece of intellectual property by securing a U.S. copyright. The copyright will ensure the Shaw foundation’s interest in the movie is protected through the turn of the century. During this approximate 100-year term, the foundation will have the right to exclusively use the movie in ways it deems best to furthering their mission of funding pediatric cancer research. Again, this is a half-million dollar copyright that the foundation acquired for zero dollars.
The Shaw movie illustrates the unique power of intellectual property even in the case of a non-profit foundation. What intellectual property opportunities are available to your organization, and what is your strategy for taking advantage of them?