Photo Credit: Free Don’s Plum
In the late 1990’s, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and a slew of other lesser known, but familiar Hollywood actors and musicians, made a tiny indie film that never saw the light of day.
Yesterday, after the film, Don’s Plum, was discovered on Vimeo and reported on by multiple news outlets, it was taken down at the request of both actors. A DMCA copyright notice appeared in it’s place stating, “Vimeo has removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire claiming that this material is infringing: Don’s Plum.”
Don’s Plum, has had a long history of controversy since its completion in 1996. According to statements by both actors, the film was done as a favor to their friends, but was never supposed to be released in theaters as a feature. Apparently, it also contains mature content.
An infographic released by one of the producers on a website called FreeDonsPlum shows the chronology of the film from a production meeting, to its screening at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001. The site also includes an open letter to Leonardo by one of the film’s producers, Dale Wheatley. It’s unclear what caused Wheatley to rehash the past so many years later, but he does have this to say:
“After 18 years, I can no longer remain silent. I can no longer allow the defamation and lies that you perpetrated against Don’s Plum to scar the great work of the artists who created it. I’m not afraid of you or your lawyers anymore. I have endured enough. I’m going to speak with the freedom that our Constitution affords me. I’m going to stand up for our film and for every one of the people who helped make it.”
Upon seeing the completed film and finding out studios were interested in purchasing it, Leo and Tobey seemingly got cold feet and condemned the film and their now ex-friends, the filmmakers.
After a suit and counter-suit between producers David Stutman, Dale Wheatley, RD Robb, Jerry Meadors and the two actors, a settlement was reached effectively banning the release of Don’s Plum in the US and Canada. However, clips of the film can still be found on YouTube and copies of the DVD have even showed up on Amazon.
Although it’s quite obvious the producers of the film are looking for attention and potentially justice for their short film, in light of the copyright take down notice from Vimeo, it’s unlikely the actors will change their mind about it.