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Old 10-20-2011, 07:37 PM   #1
Mortal_Remains
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Default Originality vs Unoriginality

Sometimes when I approach a new script, I find myself heavily influenced by some of my favorite films, which often stops me in my tracks and makes me reevaluate the story I want to tell.

This reevaluation tends to deep six a lot of concepts before they have a chance to get out of the gate. Which leads me to the question. What qualifies the term original and unoriginal in your eyes?

Star wars was beloved the world over and became the first film to kick start the summer blockbuster. But it's influences run deep. Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai, Dam Busters, Flash Gordon, The searchers etc...

The Matrix was heavily influenced by Neuromancer, Ghost in the shell, Terminator, Various kung fu movies etc...

Avatar was influenced by Pocahontas, John Carter of mars etc...

These movies are highly successful yet wear their influences on their sleeves with pride. Would these movies be considered original or Unoriginal?

I feel it's never a bad thing to borrow heavily from source material as long as the ingredients make for something new yet familiar at the same time. What do you guys think?
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

I look at it like cooking. There's only so many ingredients, but you can combine them and use them in new and interesting ways.
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

No matter what you come up with, someone will always say "It's like..." -- something which you may never have seen or even heard of.

Harlan Ellison alone has published over 1700 pieces of work. No wonder the guy has a field day being litigious.
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

This: http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=61535
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

That's a cool Blog.

Opens my eyes to a lot of possibilities, as well as the self defeating voice in my head which holds me back from being creative.
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

How much of it is me?

How much of the story is my experience?

If other things influence my story, that's fine - as long as at the core it is *my* personal story.

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Old 10-21-2011, 04:53 AM   #7
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

It is almost impossible to think of something that is completely fresh and outstandingly original in a screenplay except in two areas, the characters and the dialogue.

Almost every scenario of every combination of a concept has been played out in a bar in some part of the universe at some time in the past.

What gives a visual presentation a truly lasting impact is not the action or even the special effects; it is the characterization of a character and what they say that can be unique and memorable.

As a screenwriter being original in a screenplay’s concept and storyline can be really difficult but being original with the characters and their dialogue is not that difficult if as the writer you draw on your memory of all the people you have met in your lifetime.

It is worth remembering the phase, “There is none so queer as folk.”
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:11 AM   #8
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

The orginality is in the telling.
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Old 10-21-2011, 05:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
The orginality is in the telling.
Bingo. I mean, when you get right down to it...There are really only seven notes in all of music. Yes, you can do a lot of interesting things to modify and play with them. You can build chords, extend or truncate durations, mix up the order, transcend a few octaves, diminish into flats or embellish into sharps...Whatever you like. But you still only get the same seven notes Bach, Barry Manilow, Black Flag, Barenaked Ladies, Billy Joel, Ben Folds and the Beatles all got to play with. It's really what you do with 'em that sets you apart.
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Old 10-21-2011, 08:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: Originality vs Unoriginality

I'm sure we've all had that 'too much like such-and-such a film or such-and-such a character' feeling when grapling with ideas for story.

It seems that certain genres tend to have required elements, such as your teen slasher flicks, or the CGI-dependant robotic action junk, and I'm not sure if it's because of a lack of original ideas, or just sticking what the mass audience wants. The path of least resistance.

Ever see the quick rip-off of Jaws? What a joke.

When I read for other writers, 'heaveily influnced by' often pops out like a neon sign. It's just too obvious. Sometimes it's an honest near-plagurism, with scenes almost to a T from a well-known flick, which the writer may have never seen. I was once accused of 'Yeah, 1984 was a good flick, wasn't it?' and yet the only thing I've seen or read pertaining to 1984 was the Apple commercial shown once during Superbowl 16. With all the ideas out there, and the infinite possibilities for scenes, dialogue, etc., to align, it is bound to happen both unitentionally and intentionally.

When one does 'borrow' intentionally, however, it really needs a clean interpetation on the concept. Anything else screams 'that other film'.

a
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