UPDATE: In a PR roller coaster that proved the power of internet pundits, Shia LaBeouf apologized publicly for failing to credit the graphic comic that inspired his short film Howard Cantour.com which he debuted online Monday. “I f***ed up,” he Tweeted from @thecampaignbook, the same account he had used to heavily promote the 2012 short which stars Jim Gaffigan as an internet film critic consumed by his own online influence. Ironically the film played dozens of film festivals last year including the Cannes Film Festival, but it wasn’t until it hit the web yesterday morning that keen-eyed bloggers noticed uncredited similarities between LaBeouf’s film and artist Daniel Clowes’ 2007 graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, including word-for-word dialogue and visuals lifted directly from the original. By afternoon the video was password-protected without explanation as the plagiarism accusations flew. LaBeouf broke his silence late last night with a mea culpa that also sounded slightly familiar: “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 naiveté 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 @danielclowes 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 @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work. I f***ed up.”
PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: What’s one way to get the attention of internet critics? Make a short film about internet critics. In HowardCantour.com, writer-director Shia LaBeouf (apparently based on this uncredited illustrated short by Ghost World‘s Daniel Clowes) slices into the tortured psyche of an online film critic and his philosophical struggles with auteur hero-worship, the misery that is other bloggers, and press junket catering. Jim Gaffigan stars as sad sack pundit Howard Cantour with Portia Doubleday and Thomas Lennon as fellow web journos whose lives on the press circuit are a tedium of self-importance and thinly veiled hackitude; Dito Montiel pops up as a director who’s only made one great movie in his career. LaBeouf screened the short in Cannes‘ Critic Week sidebar. So far the blogger corps. doesn’t quite know whether to cheer at the reflection in the mirror or not. [UPDATE: The video has since been password-protected and LaBeouf’s reps have not replied to requests for comment.]
Watch on Deadline
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.