A new short film by Shia LaBeouf which debuted online on Monday took a whole lot of inspiration from a comic but didn't give any credit, and now he may face legal troubles.
The film, "HowardCantour.com", stars Jim Gaffigan as a troubled online film critic and has been around since last year, when it made the rounds at the Cannes Film Festival. However, it wasn't until this week, when it began to circulate around the web, that it drew the attention of artist Daniel Clowes, who created the graphic novel "Justin M. Damiano". According to Clowes' publisher, the film is not just similar to the book, there are actually sections lifted directly from it.
"LaBeouf changed the name of the main character, but he used the comic as a direct script and storyboard," Eric Reynolds of Fantographics said. "Clowes has a real melodramatic voice that is very idiosyncratic and LaBeouf just used the dialogue word for word. There is no ambiguity. There is no way that anybody wrote this but Dan Clowes. It just defies any kind of logic or good sense. This was so blatant and inexcusable that it was as baffling as it was appalling."
No legal action has been taken yet, but Reynolds says Clowes is exploring his options and that LaBeouf hasn't attempted to apologize directly. He did issue a statement on Twitter and said he had simply been inspired by the book.
"Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work. In my excitement and naivete as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation. I'm embarrassed that I failed to credit [Daniel Clowes] for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration. I was truly moved by his piece of work & I knew that it would make a poignant & relevant short. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it. I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want [Clowes] to know that I have a great respect for his work."
LaBeouf has made headlines in the past couple of years with his racy choices in roles and his bizarre methods for preparing for them, such as procuring moonshine for his role in "Lawless" and tripping on acid for "The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman". His latest film, "Nymphomaniac", is getting quite a bit of attention for the sexed-up posters that have been released.
Image via Wikimedia Commons