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Originality in Storytelling vs. Artwork Mar 29

About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.
– Josh Billings

Glart and OtokThe Year is 30,000 B.C.

Otok and Glart have returned from a successful hunting trip (i.e. they didn’t catch anything, but both survived).

Otok, captivates his fellow cavemen by retelling the story of the hunt… with certain embellishments to minimize Glart’s role in the heroics.

Glart, gets back at Otok by painting representations of the hunt on a cave wall. He makes his stick man twice as tall as Otok’s.

Later that night Otok sneaks into Glart’s cave with a club and bad intentions. Glart, who it turns out actually is freakishly large, overpowers and mortally wounds Otok.

As Otok lies dying, he uses his powers of language to spin a convincing tale of Glart’s treachery. On the day Otok is buried, Glart is fed to a saber-toothed tiger as punishment for his crime.

Since that day, the war between artwork and storytelling has been raging.

Unfortunately for us screenwriters, on the battle front for originality, artwork appears to be winning.

They’re making Godzilla again? Now they’re recycling their own recycled regurgitations! Just like the burst housing bubble, this one’s going to blow. Only a matter of time before the snake realizes it’s eating itself. Or does the youth market always forgive?
– Anonymous Scriptwrecked reader


As screenwriting descendants of Otok, we’ve all heard the mantra that, “there are no more original stories.” Well I’m not buying it! The art world certainly doesn’t adopt that philosophy.

In the last few months alone, take a look below at some original works of art that have been produced, 32,000 years after Glart first scrawled on a cave wall.

May they inspire you in your storytelling endeavors when you search for your own original idea. Because if they can do it, so can we!

Aggravure by Baptiste Debombourg

Aggravure by Baptiste Debombourg

Click the photo or link to see more pics, and closeups. You’ll never guess what this masterwork was created with.


Egg Art Master Franc Grom sells egg artwork by creating approximately 2500 to 3500 holes in each egg shell.

Egg Art Master Franc Grom

This guy makes beautiful artwork from eggs by creating approximately 2500 to 3500 holes in each shell! Click the photo or link for more pictures.


Jimi Hendrix by Erika Simmons

Jimi Hendrix by Erika Simmons

This artist has created some highly original works of art out of cassette tape. Worth clicking the photo or this link to see more examples.


Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley by Mark Evans

Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley by Mark Evans

Click the photo or link to see more of Mark Evans’ amazing work. Can you guess what medium he uses?

Who says there are no more original ideas out there? If artists are still coming up with new ways to make artwork after 32,000 years, we screenwriters have lots of time left to explore exciting new stories and possibilities.

“The greatest trick Glart ever pulled was convincing the followers of Otok that there were no more original story ideas.”
– Verbal Otok

Dig deep and find your original idea or vision. I know it’s in there. I believe cinematic originality is about to make a resurgence in Hollywood… Riiight after I sell my screenplay adaptation of Tick Tack Toe. 😉

Do you think originality is dead in Hollywood or is it ready to thrive once again? Any non-film sources inspire you?

Want me to personally read your script and let you know if it’s ready to go out? Please take a look at my professional script services.

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2 Responses
  1. Phoenix says:

    Hey Trevor,
    Inspiring and thoughful and like the style of your article.
    My shorts scripts are unique but my feature scrip tends be borrowing from UK, HK, Korean films. Is this okay?
    Just saw SHUTTER ISLAND three times. I think the story and direction is very original. Do you agree?

  2. Trevor Mayes says:

    Thanks Phoenix!

    It’s definitely okay to borrow from foreign films. Just make sure to always put your own stamp on things. Keep in mind that different cultures respond to different material. That’s why The Office is recast for a number of different countries — as opposed to simply distributing the original.

    Honestly, I wasn’t super impressed with SHUTTER ISLAND. Leo did a great job as usual, but I felt the movie version gave us waaaaay too many clues as to what was going on. So the surprise ending, was anything but… for me anyway. Perhaps it’s a sign I’ve seen too many movies. 🙂

    Curiously, the script is not as heavy handed and I think works better on a number of levels.

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