A Yukon filmmaker is suing his former co-producer over a number of projects they worked on together.
Traolach Ó Murchú claims he has not been compensated, and that his intellectual property was stolen.
Ó Murchú recently launched the suit in Yukon Supreme Court against Simon D’Amours and 535983 Yukon Inc.
It alleges, among other things, that D’Amours breached a number of agreements they had together, along with his fiduciary duty to Ó Murchú, and that he violated the Copyright Act.
According to the statement of claim, Ó Murchú met D’Amours late in the winter of 2013 at a television industry training course.
Ó Murchú came up with an idea for a TV program featuring D’Amours as a presenter.
He developed the series further, and in September 2013 presented his idea to D’Amours for a show titled Off the Beaten Path.
In the show, he would travel around the Yukon in his converted bus home visiting people with unusual lifestyles.
The suit claims both men agreed Ó Murchú would develop the series up to and including a pilot episode.
Between September 2013 and January 2014, he wrote, produced and recorded a pilot of the series which established a copyright under the Copyright Act.
Around January 2014, the claim says, the pair agreed that D’Amours would pitch the series while Ó Murchú would prepare pitch materials, suggest leads and work with D’Amours.
It adds they both planned to earn money from the series by providing services to whichever company would produce it and share the profits equally.
But around April 12, 2014, Ó Murchú claims, D’Amours signed an agreement without his permission, assigning the rights to the series to Manito Media Inc. (MMI).
The working title for the series was also changed to Hors des Sentiers Battus. In August 2014, MMI hired Manito HDSB Inc. to produce it.
The suit alleges this was a violation of the Copyright Act, and a breach of D’Amours’ fiduciary duty to Ó Murchú and their agreement.
Ó Murchú claims he did not learn about the deal until March 2015, and he told D’Amours that he objected.
But according to the suit, the following month, they both agreed that Ó Murchú would not prohibit the deal if D’Amours ensured he was recognized, credited and paid as a producer on the series.
The two also agreed Ó Murchú would be paid a reasonable creator’s fee based on the production budget, and D’Amours would arrange to have the copyright returned to Ó Murchú.
MHI produced the series with a total budget of $940,000, but Ó Murchú claims neither MHI nor D’Amours has paid him a producer’s fee nor creator’s fee, and the copyright for the series has not been returned to him.
D’Amours allegedly told Ó Murchú he could not pay the creator’s fee from his revenue from the series because he had used his advance on a down payment for a house.
Ó Murchú adds that he worked as a director of photography for MHI during the series production between June and October 2015.
He says he was entitled to a daily food allowance of $75, which, by the time production ended, would have granted him $6,750.
Ó Murchú claims he forewent these allowances based on an agreement with D’Amours that he would be compensated for a greater amount, but says he has never been compensated.
The suit alleges that had D’Amours not usurped Ó Murchú’s rights to the series, he would have worked and been paid as a producer,
He would also have received an allowance for corporate overhead and compensation for leasing office space, camera and sound recording equipment to MHI.
The statement of claim continues that in October 2015, Ó Murchú was planning to move to Montreal when D’Amours offered to pay him to continue developing other Yukon-based TV series that would feature him as the presenter.
The following month, they allegedly made an agreement where Ó Murchú would forego full-time work between January and July 2016 to focus on the projects.
They also agreed that as long as financing was secured for at least one project, D’Amours would pay Ó Murchú $10,000 as an advance.
But Ó Murchú claims while he was able to secure financing, he was never paid the advance, which breached their agreement and caused him to “incur fees, expenses, and interest as well as inconvenience and worry.”
The suit further claims the pair entered into another agreement in February 2016 to develop a documentary with the working title Le Vrai Chercheur D’Or.
Under this agreement, Ó Murchú would write and develop the concept, secure a broadcaster and assist D’Amours in exploring financing for production.
He would also be given right of first refusal for director of photography and researcher positions and “a meaningful and creative position on digital/web component.”
If D’Amours was not able to offer the positions or Ó Murchú declined them, then he would be paid $4,000.
Ó Murchú claims he fulfilled his obligations under the contract but he was not offered either role nor paid $4,000.
The statement of claim also says Ó Murchú and D’Amours agreed when financing was secured to produce the documentary, they would jointly establish a single purpose production company and split profits.
Ó Murchú claims they both agreed to temporarily use Yukon Inc. 535983, which D’Amours had registered as a corporation in September 2015, until they registered another new company.
As well, Ó Murchú assigned his copyright to the documentary to 535983.
However, Ó Murchú claims a new company was never created, and in October 2016, he learned that D’Amours was producing the documentary without his involvement.
As a result, the suit alleges, D’Amours was unjustly enriched, and Ó Murchú is entitled to damages equal to the amount he would have earned had their agreement not been breached.
It says this includes consultant, researcher, producer, production manager and director of photography fees, along with fees for editing, supervising the edit, preparing and organizing footage for the edit and the edit suite.
It also claims he would have been compensated for camera and lighting rentals and corporate overhead.
The statement of claim further alleges Ó Murchú entered into a written contract with 535983 in April 2016 where he would be compensated $6,000 to write a script for the documentary.
He also had a contract to serve as director of the documentary for $6,000.
Ó Murchú claims he has not been compensated as director nor for writing the script.
Finally, Ó Murchú claims that in December 2015, he shared electronic work materials for several projects with D’Amours for viewing purposes.
This allegedly included promotional materials for projects Ó Murchú intended to pitch for production, including TV docu-series Life Up North a.k.a La Vie du Nord, Les Nouveaux Sauvages a.k.a Le Passeur, A Yukon Heart, Au Coeur de Yukon 2 and Jobs up North.
Ó Murchú says there were also materials for a documentary titled Le Vrai Chercher D’Or and a web-based format for Long Ago People’s Place.
But allegedly in June 2016, D’Aours removed the documents from the shared folders and remotely deleted them off of Ó Murchú’s computer.
Ó Murchú claims he is still being denied access to his intellectual property despite repeatedly demanding that D’Amours return the materials.
The conversion of the intellectual property, the suit claims, “is ongoing and irreparable harm” to Ó Murchú.
Ó Murchú is now claiming, among other compensation, fees, the foregone food allowances, opportunity losses, lost income, special damages, damages for breach of contract, punitive damages, relief, and costs.
He is also seeking a mandatory injunction that D’Amours return his intellectual property and delete any copies he may have in his possession.
He is also seeking a declaration that D’Amours holds 50 per cent of the shares in 535983 Yukon Inc. as a constructive trustee for him.
D’Amours has not responded to the claims, and they have not been heard in a court of law.