Shooting a spaghetti western on greenscreen


I’m a young filmmaker from Norway and we’re going to shoot a short western on a greenscreen. We’re calling it “In the sands of Mexico” and it will be about 5 minutes long. The concept is to use backdrops from other spaghetti westerns and fuse our actors into them (ala Kung Pow). I’ve been trying to look for the right locations in the films I own, but there is also the copyright problem. I’ve tried to download those movies that are in public domain. The problem is there is so many and the download speed is a drag. So I thought maybe someone on here could help me out and think of the right films for the scenes I’ve written. The locations is the outside of an adobe in the mountains & inside the adobe (like the scene in the start of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly with Lee Van Cleef) and an open stretch that would look like it was just nearby (here there will be a mexican stand-off). Hope someone can atleast help me a bit on the way!

-Espen Olaisen

The opening scenes from Johnny Yuma spring to mind.

3 bandidos approach a lonely adobe, they go inside then after the shootout Johnny rides off across the arid landscape. It’s in public domain in a pretty nice looking widescreen print too.

There are no public domain spaghetti westerns in Europe, only in America where copyrights are not respected. As you’re from Norway, I’d advise you not to use any spaghetti western footage.

By the way, a guy from South Africa over at has a remarkably similar idea.

[quote=“rdb1211”]Can someone please help me find out if this Film is Public Domain? Been doing Research but get conflicting information:(

“They Call Me Trinity” (1970)(Italian : Lo chiamavano Trinità) also known as “My Name is Trinity”.

I’m a Producer/Writer/Director from South-Africa & we would like to take a Public Domain Film & ‘Re-Edit’/‘Re-Dub’ it.
Possibly Shoot & Insert additional Scenes & make a totally New Movie! (Similar to “Kung-Pow” & “Hercules Returns”)

Don’t want to make the Film & then get sued because the Source Footage wasn’t Public Domain!

Thanks in advance for any help…[/quote]

Thanks for the info! Then I’ll only distribute it in the US. :-X It’s only a shortfilm, so I won’t be trying to make any money on it.

It’s an interesting idea, but I wouldn’t want to do a whole feature with this technique. I’d rather go to spain and shoot, but at the moment I’m stuck in Norway…

Based on what I personally think is correct (please correct me if you think I’m wrong :slight_smile: ), I doubt theres many public domain spaghettis in USA either. I know this has been the subject of lots of discussions on several boards over the years so people are probably tired and annoyed of hearing about it, but anyways… xD

USA joined the Berne Convention in 1989 but refused to give the proper copyrights to foreign works that had been released before they joined. But in 1994 Clinton signed (under pressure from other countries?) URAA which basically automatically restores copyrights to foreign works that are still copyrighted in their country of origin. Even to those which had fallen to public domain because of failing to follow the US copyright laws.

They Call Me Trinity is probably the most famous of the public domain titles, but the US copyright office actually has a 'notice of intent to enforce the restored copyrights" from Enzo Barboni (his name is listed as the copyright holder if I remember correctly) and/or his people left in 1996.

It would probably take some court cases to see how the laws actually would be enforced (if at all), so I’m not sure if anybody can actually say what the situation is.
I do know about one court case in which a distributor of previously public domain foreign works (music) was ordered to stop what they were doing.

But I think it was possible to get your own copyright on the modified works from public domain titles by for example changing the title card or music or something. I recall hearing about some cases like this, maybe one was plan 9 from outer space which is public domain but certain version/print (maybe the best around, hehe) is copyrighted to someone else because they changed the titles… or something.
So maybe some of the crappy vhs versions (made before 1994) aren’t actually copyrighted because of some possible modifications… but then again, I would think the one who made the modifications own the copyrights for that version, maybe it would even be considered made in USA after that and not foreign.

As for your short film Morgan Kane, I doubt the copyright owners would care about a short film that isn’t made with an intention to make loads of money with it. :slight_smile:
But who knows… ???

17 USC 104A effectively restored the copyrights on foreign works that previously were not copyrighted in the U.S.[13] due to a failure to meet the U.S. formalities (such as not having a copyright notice, or not having been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, or not having had its copyright renewed) or due to a lack of international treaties between the U.S. and the country of origin of the work. Copyrights on foreign works were only restored if these works were still covered by copyright or neighbouring rights in their source countries on January 1, 1996. But if so, the copyright in the U.S. was restored automatically; the restored copyright is subject to the normal U.S. term as if the work had never fallen into the public domain in the U.S. (104A(a)(1)(B)).

Quite right. But I figure if films are being openly sold through regular retail outlets in the U.S and internationally through amazon and ebay etc you should be reasonably safe to use it for a small scale short film that you don’t intend to make money off.


I’m not sure if it is any help, but I will be heading to the Tabernas desert in Sept-Nov-Dec, and shoot a photographic documentary there.

I will also be doing a cinematographic project (underwater documentary) during that time.

If you have some patience I could either shoot very high res (21 megapixel) stills for usage as backdrop, or shoot HD (1080P) video material. The tabernas desert is the location for the dollar trilogy, so I’m sure we can find some suitabel backdrops and locations there!

Contact me by mail or pm if you’re interested