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Filmmaker Chris Notarile Notes Alarming Similarities Between His Work And Prey - Exclusive

There's a great deal of anticipation for the upcoming installment of the "Predator" franchise — "Prey." The film promises to be a massive departure from what we've seen from the series so far. It takes place in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago and follows an indigenous warrior, Naru (Amber Midthunder), who comes face-to-face with the legendary Predator. It becomes a battle between a technologically-advanced arsenal and the weapons Naru has at her disposal in the ultimate showdown between predator and prey. It's an inventive take on the classic "Predator" IP — or is it?

The upcoming feature-length film bears some similarities to a fan film that came out in 2019, entitled "Warrior : Predator," from filmmaker Chris .R. Notarile. Looper had the chance to do an exclusive interview with Notarile, who introduced himself as "an independent filmmaker ... mostly known for my fan films, which can be seen on my Youtube channel BLINKY500."

He described the similarities as he sees them to Looper, noting a few clear synchronicities between the his fan film and the marketing materials that have come out for "Prey" thus far. "While there isn't much to really dig into yet," he explained, "the visual style does seem quite similar. Specifically the lack of dialog and the colorization."

How did Warrior : Predator come to be?

"Warrior : Predator" had been in the works for a while; Notarile explained how the initial idea came to him back in 2015. As he described, the idea came courtesy of his fans. "I'm very interactive with my fan base, and occasionally, I would hold polls on my social media pages, asking for suggestions on what fan film I should make next. Fan films are a great way to pull in new viewers and subscribers as well wonderful calling cards when trying to establish yourself as a filmmaker. At one point in late 2015, someone suggested I make a Predator fan film, but at the time, the idea just seemed too impossible for me to pull off." 

That's when he came up with the idea to simplify things and have there be zero dialogue. He also made things easier by casting a Predator cosplayer who already had a costume readily available. According to the film's YouTube description, he just had to make one Predator costume from scratch. He went on to say, "We shot the whole thing in one day in early December of 2019 at Bronson Canyon in Hollywood and I released the completed short on my channel, Christmas Eve, later that month." Since that time, the fan film has amassed over 125,000 views on YouTube.

What action would Notarile like to take?

Notarile discussed how he believes the similarities between the projects aren't a coincidence. "The day that 'Prey' (originally titled Skulls) was announced in November of 2020, I immediately wrote an email to [director] Daniel Trachtenberg's representatives with a link to my Warrior : Predator short, urging them to watch it to ensure they DIDN'T (intentionally or unintentionally) copy it." Notarile even received an email from Fox's legal team stating, "The Predator franchise will not infringe any protectable elements." Notarile assumed it was all merely coincidental, but after seeing the trailer and poster art, his tune began to change. 

When asked what kind of action he'd like to see taken, he responded, "I've had a lot of people suggest that I take some sort of legal action, or demand to be credited/compensated for my 'contribution' to Prey. And while that is a nice sentiment, I'm still the little guy in this scenario. It'd be an unwinnable uphill battle and probably cause me more trouble than it's even worth. At the end of the day, I'd rather just have a shot at pitching one of my original scripts to a studio, over burning bridges with some frivolous court case."

It's unclear whether the final product will infringe upon Notarile's copyright interests in any way, but hopefully everyone winds up with a fair shake in the end.