Falling (partially found drama film; 2008)
Falling was an independent drama film written, directed, and starring Richard Dutcher, known for his LDS-themed movies. Dubbed "The First R-rated Mormon Movie" during its brief theatrical run in 2008, the film has yet to receive a home media release on any platform.
In 2015, Dutcher filed a lawsuit against Bold Films, Open Road Films, and NBC Universal, claiming their 2014 film Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal plagiarized his movie. As both films feature freelance LA stringers who record violent crime scenes for TV news outlets, Dutcher's lawyer Stephen Silverman claimed that Nightcrawler had enough similarities to Falling that under Copyright Law, it must be considered a "derivative work".
After three years where the suit survived dismal motions and summary judgments, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson agreed that the two works had enough substantial similarities for the case to go before a jury. This was halted due to the bankruptcy of Open Road Films in September 2018. The trial was scheduled for April 2019, but it did not occur.
On August 19th, 2019, Benson ultimately dismissed the case, claiming that the similar elements are a necessary component for films dealing with stringers and that the two films are too thematically different for there to be any major copyright infringement.
A few court documents have been made available, which can be accessed through CourtListener.
According to the dismissal document, Falling is an LDS centric morality tale. The film focuses on aspiring screenwriter Eric Boyle (Dutcher) and aspiring actress Davey, a happily married couple who moved to Hollywood to pursue their ambitions while their LDS beliefs lapsed. Their aspirations have turned fruitless and to make money, Eric works as a freelance stringer to film violent crime scenes during the daytime for local news.
Because of the compromises they had to take, with Eric making his work more violent and Davey getting into an affair with a casting director just to land a part in his movie, their marriage begins to crumble and they become emotionally wrecked. Eric even longs for his LDS belief to return.
The climax kicks in when Eric notices a gang stabbing and shoots the events as they unfold. Instead of helping the victim, he sells the footage for a fortune. Davey meanwhile poses nude at an audition while kissing the casting director simply to earn the role. This culminates into the destruction of the couple's marriage and their spiritual collapse.
When Davey tells Eric that she had to get an abortion for her movie role, he violently chokes her. Things take a turn for the worse when Eric finds his boss murdered by the same gang members he shot while discovering that they obtained his address. They then proceed to stage Davey's suicide before he returns home. Finally, Eric spots the gang and they get into a lengthy and gratuitous fight where they all die.
Eric hallucinates a visit to the LDS Temple where he kneels before the Christus, begging for spiritual assistance before passing away.
Before the film's brief theatrical window, Dutcher stated that due to the personal content of the film it would never be shown to the public. Falling held a private screening at Sunstone in 2007 before being shown at The Gateway theater in Utah on January 2008 and the Beverly Hills Music Hall in August. There were plans for releases in New York and Chicago but they fell through.
Falling was later shown at the Camelot Theatres in California in 2009 and a VIP screening at Sundance was held in 2011. A year prior in a video interview with Mormon Stories, Dutcher stated that he actually does want the film to get a public release, but wants to "piggyback" it off of his more mainstream film Evil Angel (which is commercially available internationally but it has no official US release).
In 2012, Falling was officially re-released at the Broadway Centre Cinemas in Salt Lake City. Dutcher clarified in an interview that he initially wanted to keep the film to himself but his girlfriend convinced him otherwise. While he has stated that the film would get a wide DVD release, this has not yet materialized.
According to the complaint document, Dutcher released a limited number of DVDs and planned to push it out on DVD/Blu-ray in 2015. He also planned on a "mass-market" remake of Falling with a new cast but claimed that the release of Nightcrawler divested this chance.
While Falling remains unavailable for public viewing, two versions of the trailer are available online: a green band version on IMDb and a red band version on YouTube. In addition, Stephen Silverman released three clips on YouTube and two comparison videos for support of the Nightcrawler suit. Dutcher himself used another clip for his acting reel. Brief inaudible clips were also featured in the Mormon Stories video interview where Dutcher talks about Falling in detail. Finally, three audio-only clips were used when Dutcher was interviewed on both CityViews and RadioWest, though the latter interview appears to be lost.
- IMDb page on Falling.
- An archived page for the (now-defunct) official Falling website.
- Dutcher v. Bold Films at PlainSite.
- Billboard image with commentary. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Lawsuit report in Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Hollywood Reporter article. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Lawsuit mentioned in Hollywood Reporter article. Retrieved 12 Feb '19
- IndieWire article on final verdict. Retrieved 21 Aug '19
- Sunstone review. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Report overview in Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- LA Times report. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Screening details. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Video of the event. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Mormon Stories interview. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- Salt Lake Tribune article on the re-release. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- CityViews interview. Retrieved 08 Jan '19
- RadioWest profile. Retrieved 08 Jan '19