Feature Film: Kopy Kat, by Joe Leone

A struggling but determined artist invents a forbidden new way to make cash, and is subsequently ostracized by the art community.

Katherine, known as Kat to her friends…and bill collectors, has had enough. Her beautiful impressionist-inspired landscapes, portraits and still life paintings just won’t sell. Anywhere. Having milked all of her art world connections into absolute dust, she is at a crossroads: go home to her parents with her pallet between her legs, or do something bold. When a friend jokingly suggests she should just make a copy of a piece of modern *art* selling for ten thousand dollars in a chic downtown gallery, Kat takes it to heart. She recreates this all white painting with a single word,”éclat,” written in one corner. Kat then sets up shop right outside the posh establishment on the night of a big showing there, with a large price tag on her replication proclaiming “$1,000 – or best offer.” As the gallery owner and security guards attempt to escort the staunch Kat away, one eccentric (wealthy) art enthusiast spots Kat’s work and finds it charming and brilliant: “I’ll take it!”

Having tasted her first morsel of financial success in months, Kat’s appetite is whetted and she decides to try it again. Another direct counterfeit on canvas and Kat is recognized as that “copy chick.” Within no time, a certain notoriety begins to follow her around (in no small part thanks to social media). She has found her niche. However, the original artists begin to threaten Kat with legal action. Kat’s contract lawyer friend strongly admonishes her, telling her to heed these serious warnings. Yet Kat, undaunted, keeps replicating pieces all over town. Now the dough is rolling in and Kat is starting to develop something of an ego. She brazenly copies one work and opts to sell it…for the same exact price as the original. While all of this is transpiring, Kat meets Len, a cute and genuine gallery owner. He values Kat as an artist, but quickly tires of her illicit shenanigans.

Meanwhile, Kat has created such a name for herself now in the underground world, that the above ground world wants a piece of her too. She is contacted about doing a show at a prestigious gallery. The thing is, to avoid controversy and potential lawsuits, they need for her to show her own work. Not a problem for Kat – this is all she ever wanted in the first place. The night of her show brings out some press and big names in the art community. Everyone eagerly awaits to see Kat’s authentic work…and they hate it. There is just no “edge,” as one bored critic puts it. Just as her career is on the verge of careening into absolute oblivion, Kat gets another idea. “What got me here in the first place?” With the reluctant help of Len, Kat makes some copies of her own work, and finagles a last ditch effort gallery showing. Here she displays her original pieces, along with the copies, at minimal prices. A handful of critics read a little too deeply into her work and once again, she is heralded as a genius. Yet Kat knows that she is not; the modern art world is so capricious and elusive, it’s almost impossible to know who is talented and who is a complete hack. With her head firmly on her shoulders again, Kat is ready to try it all over again. She loves making art, no matter what.

Writer Biography

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Joe Leone hails from Westchester County, NY, and resides in Brooklyn. He graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in theater arts. He has written over two dozen feature screenplays, including two comedies for Triangle Entertainment. Currently in production/pre-production are Meant to Be Broken (DC Dogs), Rio Urban Legend: Witch’s Moon (EVP Films), Layers of Lies (Sonram Productions), Scherbo (Ekstasy Films), Underground (LuminouStudios) and American Dream (Dev Pinn Productions). Joe is also a copywriter at New York magazine.


Writer Statement

This unique tale essentially asks the question: “What is art/what is original?” We all know that artists heavily borrow from their predecessors…but to what end? When does ‘inspiration’ become outright thievery? The impossible-not-to-love heroine of this story learns a lot about the art business, and herself in the process, as she experiences firsthand the drastic ups and downs of success.