Yesterday, actor-director Shia LaBeouf's short film HowardCantour.com was posted online in its entirety, after making its debut at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Despite the fact that the short film was nearly 18 months old, and it had debuted at other film festivals such as the St. Louis Film Festival and the Phoenix Film Festival, it was only revealed last night that the work was plagiarized from Daniel Clowes' 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano.
The short, which stars Jim Gaffigan as online film critic Howard Cantour, follows a day on the press junket circuit, with Thomas Lennon and Portia Doubleday co-starring as Howard's colleagues, and Dito Montiel portraying the filmmaker Howard once idolized. A vast majority of the dialogue is lifted word-for-world from Daniel Clowes' comic, although the character names have been changed.
The credits make no mention of a screenwriter, or that the work was based on or inspired by Daniel Clowes' comic. Buzzfeed caught up with the author, who revealed that he was not aware his work was being plagiarized.
"The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I've never spoken to or met Mr. LaBeouf. I've never even seen one of his films that I can recall - and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can't imagine what was going through his mind."
Shia LaBeouf has mentioned before that he is a fan of Daniel Clowes work, but he the author's work didn't come up in an interview with ShortOfTheWeek, the website which posted HowardCantour.com yesterday.
"I know something about the gulf between critical acclaim and blockbuster business. I have been crushed by critics (especially during my Transformers run), and in trying to come to terms with my feelings about critics, I needed to understand them. As I tried to empathize with the sort of man who might earn a living taking potshots at me and the people I've worked with, a small script developed."
Last night, the actor fessed up to his plagiarism with a series of tweets.
Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
Im embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
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.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
I fucked up.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
However, it appears that even his apology was pilfered from a post on Yahoo! Answers. The actor has been accused of plagiarism before, after it was revealed he copied quotes from an Esquire magazine article into an email he sent to Alec Baldwin, which later leaked online.
You can to watch the 12-minute short film in its entirety, and to read the first panel of Daniel Clowes' Justin M. Damiano.
HowardCantour.com was released April 2012 and stars Jim Gaffigan, Thomas Lennon, Portia Doubleday, Dito Montiel, Caroline Morahan, Heidi Niedermeyer, Tremajah Brown, Skoti Collins. The film is directed by Shia LaBeouf.