Dr. Demento documentary usurped from producers
“Under the Smogberry Trees”, the interview documentary about Barry Hansen, AKA Dr. Demento, has undergone a radical change in source and producer. Mr. Hansen’s representatives have reportedly seized control of the production from its creators, Meep Morp Studio, after a protracted series of legal saber-rattling and suspect behavior.
First started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, the project met its goals and the film had originally been planned for release this last August. But supporters of the film’s campaign received an email over the weekend from the studio reporting that Mr. Hansen and his company was now in control of the production, and would be responsible for the balance of all rewards, including the film itself.
A more detailed explanation at the production’s website went into more detail of the film’s travails.
When time finally came for Barry’s feature interview this past July, he and his manager slapped MMS with an unexpected and non-legal “Cease and Desist” demand. As our attorney can easily refute every baseless allegation made against us in this document, and we have received no better explanation for this behavior, we have no choice but to assume that this unnecessary and unethical move was related to the potential money involved in this star-studded indie endeavor.
The post levels accusations against Hansen’s manager, Arthyr Chadbourne, including sabotage against both the film’s crew and with Hansen’s relationship with the producers. Chadbourne positioned himself as Executive Producer of the film and allegedly proceeded to place roadblocks in the producers’ way, resulting in the current position.
It is unknown how much of the material Meep Morp has collected will appear in the final production, including numerous interviews with people like “Weird Al” Yankovic, Jerry Samuels (AKA Napoleon XIV) and Stan Freberg. Their plans for an animated credit sequence and dramatizations of The Good Doctor’s early life are surely not, as they are described as “among the casualties of this new arrangement”.
Meep Morp’s statement makes it clear they they consider the actions taken by Hansen’s representatives to be extra-legal, and that any version of the film that may appear does not have their support. Indeed, they maintain Hansen and co. have no legal right to create a film with the title Meep Morp “still maintains the legal right to produce”.
This is surely a blow for the Dementians and Dementites who contributed to the project (who, in the interest of full disclosure, includes yr. obt. svt.), but sadly an example of the gamble that is supporting a Kickstarter project. Some explode in a pyrotechnic ball of calamity, and some, like the Oculus Rift project, succeed so greatly that the backers find themselves wondering what they signed on for. Meep Morp theorizes that Hansen’s representation suspected the latter scenario – the film might have been more profitable than originally foreseen, and chose to go for more control.
The final truth may never be known – there’s technically no legal obligation by Hansen to complete the project, as past campaigns have shown, and with no cooperation from him, it’s unsure what sort of a project Meep Morp could deliver, presuming they chose to. Like the map torn in half in an adventure movie, the two sides may find themselves each holding half of nothing, useless without the other’s assets.
There’s only word to describe the situation… demented.