Monday 24 October 2011

Larceny vs Inspiration

In his excellent book, Acting in Film, Michael Caine says this about acting:
When becoming a character, you have to steal.  Steal whatever you see. You can even steal from other actors' characterizations; but if you do, only steal from the best. If you see Vivian Leigh do something, or Marlon Brando, or Robert de Niro or Meryl Streep do something that fits your character, steal it. Because what you're seeing them do, they stole.
In the Time magazine article, 10 Questions for Woody Allen, on January 28, 2008, Woody Allen said this:
I've stolen from the best. I've stolen from Bergman. I've stolen from Groucho, from Chaplin, from Keaton, from Martha Graham, from Fellini.       I mean I'm a shameless thief.
Austin Kleon
In the famous post, How to Steal Like an Artist, on his eponymous blog, Austin Kleon says this:
Here's what artists understand. It's a three-word sentence that fills me with hope every time I read it. Nothing is original. It says it right there in the Bible. Ecclesiastes: That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
It doesn't matter one bit how often your story has been told before; you must retell it better, with a fresh and different approach. When you tell an old story in a new way, it becomes a new story.
Michael Ferris said this in Script magazine on August 30, 2011:
When Travis Beacham (Clash of the Titans, Pacific Rim) was just an aspiring writer, he ... said to me “there’s no such thing as an original story – to approach writing a new script thinking you’re going to write a story that’s unique and original and No One Else Has Ever Seen is a fool’s errand. Man has been writing for thousands of years – every story that will ever be told has been done.”
I (sent) out his script The Gloaming to my contacts in order to try to help him sell it.  The script was getting immediate and overwhelmingly positive reaction, and people were calling it “creative,” “inventive,” “amazing,” etc. it looked like he was going to get a great manager, agent, and soon – a sale. After a couple months, it had a new title courtesy of Arnold Kopelson (Killing on Carnival Row) and was sold to New Line Cinema.
Now, this script was a steampunk fantasy about a city with fairies, werewolves, etc., and a human detective who is trying to find and catch a serial killer who is terrorizing the Fairy Quarter. It was a startling, exciting, unique storyworld, and instantly captured people’s attention. People were falling over themselves to call it “fresh” and “original,” but here’s the thing – the story is basically The Fugitive. Travis took the story and structure of The Fugitive, and put it in a freaky, cool, interesting, unique world with suitably unique matching dialogue and characters.
He was hailed as original, not because he was reinventing the wheel when it came to story, but because he took a simple story, and gave it interesting, complex, unique layers.
Austin Kleon wrote another post called 25 Quotes to Help You Steal Like an Artist. I stole a few of them for here:
A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.  — T.S.Eliot
Every idea is a juxtaposition. That’s it. A juxtaposition of existing concepts. Steven Grant
If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.  — Wilson Mizner
All writing is in fact cut-ups. A collage of words read heard overheard. What else?  — William S. Burroughs
It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to. Jean-Luc Godard
Plagiarism is basic to all culture. — Pete Seeger
Bad artists copy, good artists steal. — Pablo Picasso
Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all. — Abraham Lincoln
Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing. — Salvador Dali
So what are you waiting for? Go on, steal... like an artist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to. — Inspirational.