Just a week before the surprise drop of Lemonade, Beyoncé released a minute-long trailer for the visual album. Amidst the excitement leading up the big release, Matthew Fulks, an independent filmmaker and creative director at WDRB, had noticed what he claims to be strong visual similarities between his work and hers.
According to the Hollywood Reporter (who posted the whole complaint — all 27 pages), Fulks has now taken legal action against the pop icon, and claims the music mogul stole from his short film, Palinoia, in order to create Lemonade.
Links to his short film had supposedly reached Bryan Younce, who previously has helped create videos for Beyoncé. In the lawsuit, Fulks shares how back in July 2015, Younce asked for his email and later acknowledged that he had received his “info” coupled with an invitation to submit a treatment to be considered by Columbia Records.
5 months after this exchange, Lemonade began filming. After viewing the visual album’s trailer, Fulks drew a few parallels from his short film.
According to the plaintiff there were 9 visual similarities between the trailer and his short film (which, when you look at them, might seem a bit, well, like things you might see in any video: stairs! feet! a face!). But combined, those 9 visuals supposedly account for 39 seconds of the roughly minute-long music trailer. The lawsuit breaks down in further detail the overlapping scenes beginning with “graffiti and persons with heads down,” “red persons with eyes obscured,” “parking garage,” “stairwell,” “black and white eyes,” “title card screens,” and ending with “the grass scene,” “feet on the street,” and “side-lit ominous figures.” Included are some of the juxtaposed stills from Fulks’ formal complaint (there are also claims of similar audio track structures.)