Juan Luis Garcia, a photographer and graphic designer whose online portfolio includes photographs of several actors and movie posters for several films, has accused Spike Lee of using posters that he designed to promote the release of Lee’s remake of the Korean classic gangster film “Oldboy,” which opened in theaters yesterday. The only problem is Garcia claims he never agreed to let the posters be used. And he’s aired his grievances in an open letter on his website.
Says Garcia about the job,
Back in January I was approached by an ad agency that was hired to design posters for your new film, Oldboy.
They wanted me to design some comps to present to you. They told me the
budget was small and that they could only pay me peanuts for the comps
but if you and the studio liked any of them I would then be compensated
fairly through the licensing buyout fee.
And when he gave them the work?
The agency told me, “Congratulations, Spike loved a couple of the
posters. Yours is going to be the key art.”, and I was thrilled. But
when it came time to negotiate the licensing buyout fee the agency made
an insultingly low offer. But they said that the important thing wasn’t
the money it was the exposure and potential for more work. After
thinking about it long and hard I had to decline. I tried to negotiate
but they refused. I make the same amount of money in a single day as a
photo assistant as what they offered and I had worked on these almost
exclusively for two months. Plus there was still more work to be done so
I had to refuse.
Garcia gave the agency his work without a contract, but told them that the fee they were asking was too low. The agency was pissed, according to Garcia, but he thought that they would just use someone else’s art.