The creators of the viral video ‘Pursuit of Jappiness,’ University alums Skyler Fulton and Brett Pere, are accusing Cottage Inn Pizza, Inc. of breaking a contract — in the form of non-payment — with their video production company, 3P Presents.
3P and Cottage Inn signed a contract in February for 3P to produce three commercials for Cottage Inn for $3,000 per video, totaling $9,000. Half of the total, $4,500, was to be paid up-front with the remaining balance to be paid upon completion of the videos.
There was no specified use for the videos in the contract, but Fulton, along with a letter from Cottage Inn’s lawyer stated that the videos were going to be used in advertising campaigns.
The videos have been complete for several months, but 3P has yet to receive the second installment of $4,500. Both 3P and Cottage Inn have threatened legal action through corresponding letters from lawyers, but no further legal action has been taken. Cottage Inn wants to be refunded the initial $4,500 they paid the production company.
Paul Fransway, attorney for Cottage Inn, alleges in a letter to 3P that the film company breached the contract by providing a product that was of “no value” to the company and asked for the initial deposit back. The letter says the videos aren’t of value to Cottage Inn because 3P failed to obtain their approval on several production aspects, including actor approval. However, the contract provided to The Michigan Daily by Fulton doesn’t include a provision for customer content approval.
Fulton said Cottage Inn approved of the concepts for the three videos, which feature a character called “Cottage Jim.” In the advertisements Cottage Jim is an elderly man who is still the ‘cool guy’ on campus despite his age. One video shows Cottage Jim teaching two students how to throw a successful party, while another shows him helping a young man get a job using Cottage Inn’s gluten-free pizza.
Fulton added that Cottage Inn had opportunities to check-in on production, but never did. While the letter from Fransway said gaining the company’s approval is “customary and routine,” Fulton said 3P interpreted the contract as assurance that Cottage Inn trusted 3P’s decisions.
In an e-mail Wednesday, Fransway wrote that if further legal action is taken, he is confident Cottage Inn will win out.
“ … One of the great freedoms that we enjoy in this country is the right to present disputes like this one to fair and impartial judges who judge disputes based upon facts and not merely someone’s opinion that they are entitled to something,” Fransway wrote. “We feel confident that if a court proceeding does occur, Cottage Inn will prevail based upon the facts in this case.”
The main point of contention between the parties lies with 3P’s actor choice for Cottage Jim. Fulton said Cottage Inn didn’t like how local comedian and actor, Marty Smith, looked as Cottage Jim. He added that Cottage Inn asked 3P, after seeing the completed videos, if there was a way to put someone else’s face on Smith’s body.
3P has since disbanded due to lack of funds after going over budget on the Cottage Inn videos and not receiving the second $4,500 installment.
For the videos, 3P hired professionals to work aspects of the production, instead of the student production teams they usually used, and upgraded to a higher-quality camera.
“We wanted to give them as much value as possible so we could foster a relationship that would ultimately lead to future work together,” Pere said. “We were very confident with our abilities and, unfortunately, it was not seen the same way by Cottage Inn.”