Local Filmmaker Battles Plagiarizer
Clay Liford's 'My Mom Smokes Weed' gets ripped off
By Neha Aziz,
3:40PM, Fri. Aug. 15, 2014
Here's a new twist on forgery. Somebody allegedly stole Clay Liford's short film, excised the credits, and labeled it as his own.
The Austin-based Liford first found out about "writer/director" Frankie Hopkins through fellow filmmaker Bryan Storkel.
"He alerted me to a Reddit discussion about a company that hired a 'filmmaker' based on a reel made up entirely of stolen movie clips," Liford told the Chronicle via email. "By the time I checked it out, filmmakers who had been robbed were coming out of the woodwork to comment."
Liford's best guess as to how Hopkins got hold of his short is through a website called Short of the Week. He believes Hopkins used YouTube software to grab the video and chop off the title and credits in order to make new ones of his own.
"From what I understand, he [Hopkins] at some point was collecting these movies in order to build a résumé from which to acquire jobs, as well as a base for an ill-fated crowd-sourcing campaign for a feature," Liford said.
The issue isn't just angering Liford – it's freaking him out, too.
"The ultimate creepy factor is that Frankie seems to stalk his chosen movies as if they were the victims of a serial killer. He first finds a film he likes or feels is a good candidate for theft. Then he announces on social media that he has a new project. He actually times-out production reports – often with either stolen, behind-the-scenes pictures, or fabricated ones which may actually feature him. Then he re-edits your trailer, and releases it. And finally, he sends out your altered film for the whole Web to see. Like an altered Patty Hearst version of your movie," says Liford.
For the past few days, Liford has been involved in an elaborate Twitter war with Hopkins and Level 3 Pictures, his so-called production company. The filmmaker gave Hopkins a "forgiveness timeline." If he confessed, Liford would fully forgive him for the indiscretion. However, the deadline has since passed.
"I honestly think he's delusional to the point of living in an alternate reality. Which, if this is the case, I actually feel bad (sort of) about slamming him down. He is the type of guy who, when cornered, tries to fight his way out. I highly doubt I'll get an apology. The closest thing was him attempting a "truce" by taking the "high ground" of dropping this – sans apology or confession," Liford explains.
Currently, Liford is working on expanding his short film "Slash," which screened at last year's Fantastic Fest. (Chronicle Editor Louis Black is producing the film.)
Watch Liford's original work, "My Mom Smokes Weed," below.