Beyoncé‘s LEMONADE took the world by storm, with fans marveling over the imagery and the message ever since the first teaser dropped for the visual album. But one person who watched the trailer for the HBO special when it first dropped saw something disturbingly familiar.
Now a man has come forward to state that much of that excitement was thanks to him, and a short film his created, as he believes much of the imagery from the Lemonade trailer, was directly lifted off of his film.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Matthew Fulks, an independent filmmaker and creative director at WDRB in Louisville, Kentucky, is claiming that much of the imagery from the trailer was directly lifted off of his short film. Fulks is going so far as to sue Beyoncé and her team for stealing his work.
In the legal complaint, Fulks explains how he believes the defendants in his suit, including Sony Music, Columbia Recording, and Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment gained access to his short film, titled Palinolia, and used it to create the LEMONADE trailer.
Fulks says that he was contacted by a Columbia-signed group, and as a result his short film was sent to several individuals, including Bryan Yonce, who has created videos for Beyoncé in the past. The lawsuit claims that in July 2015, Yonce requested Fulks’ email and that he later sent a note to Fulks acknowledging that he had received his “info” with an invitation to submit a treatment for consideration by Columbia.
LEMONADE began filming five months later, and Fulks believes that the similarities he sees between the finished work and his seven-minute short is no coincidence. The suit, filed by Amy Cahill at Cahill IP states, “The number of aesthetic decisions included in Plaintiff’s PALINOIA Work that are parroted in Defendants’ LEMONADE Trailer demonstrates that the LEMONADE Trailer is substantially similar to the PALINOIA Work.” Adding, “The misappropriated content includes both the particular elements that the Plaintiff chose to comprise the PALINOIA Work and the coordination and arrangement of those particular elements.”
The suit cites specific visual similarities including, “graffiti and person with heads down,” “red persons with eyes obscured,” “parking garage,” “stairwell,” “black and white eyes,” “title card screens,” “the grass scene,” “feet on the street,” and “side-lit ominous figures.” These shared aesthetics have pointed Fulks to believe that his style was lifted.
See for yourself, compare Queen Bey’s trailer:
To Fulks’ Palinolia:
This is the second time within the year that Beyoncé has been accused of ripping aesthetics from other artists, as Chris Black accused her of stealing scenes from his short film, That B.E.A.T. for her “Formation” video.
Fulks is now demanding that all profits attributed to exploiting his work, including sales of the LEMONADE album, which recently went platinum. According to THR, representatives from Bey’s Parkwood Entertainment have yet to respond to a request for comment.