Ethics in the film industry is way different than that of any other industry ( that is not artistic) because as much as a film maker should do his/her best to minimize harm, their artistic expression should not be limited . Therefore, cases of nudity, obscenity or graphic violence is not really an ethical issue in the film industry especially in the Western world because they are means by which creativity can be expressed. However, films that indignifies a person, people or country is considered unethical.
What about films based on a true story?
Fact-Checking on films based on a true story is especially important in many film industries around the world including Hollywood. In fact, during Oscar Season with historians to scrutinized movies based on a historical event to analyze the accuracies or inaccuracies regarding the facts in the movie.
That shows that the question of ethics in fact based films takes a new turn because it involves characters who actually exist(ed).
Ok let’s have fun and put ourselves in an imaginary but practical situation so that we can understand this issue more!
Let’s say you are involved in the production of a movie based on a major event where an airline crushed land after a lightning strike blew out it’s engine. The pilot was able to navigate the plane onto the ocean, two miles away from the shore. Luckily, it landed near a ship that was able to rescue all but one passenger in the plane. The one who passed away was as a result of health conditions.
The networks doing the product, however, wants to make a few changes when recreating the story by making the Co-pilot an African American Woman- the actual crew wasn’t racially diverse, and by changing the cause of death of the deceased passenger-making his death caused as a result of not following flight crew instructions. There will also be inventions of characters and dialogue in the film that were not there in real life.
I understand why the network would want to change the race of some of the characters in the film because of course they would want to reach non-white viewers also. However, I personally think that they should first contact the actual co-pilot and tell them their intentions and why they want to do so before going ahead and making that particular change.However, The question of changing the cause of death to me is veerryy unethical because it is straight up in-dignifying to the person and to his family.
I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with changing a few facts in a movie based on a true story but I believe there must be a very very good reason behind that change. This is because if filmmakers go crazy in making changes… the story could mean its meaning or could become a whole new different story altogether.
Lesson of the day… if anyone plans on making a fact-based film then they should ensure that there film is accurate in terms of facts. When it comes to making changes, the film maker should have a good solid reason as to why they are doing so. And who knows you might win an oscar!!!