Is Your Film Original? How to Secure Originality in Your Work?

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In any creative field, there is an ever growing imbalance in the thoughts of a creator.  This imbalance could be in the form of not being able to generate ideas for something we love to do also. For a writer, it is termed as the writer’s block. In many a cases, people end up overcoming this block and generate ideas. What about the ones that are left? They look on to easier ways of concluding their block by simply taking it from someone else which is otherwise called as Plagiarism.  

We have plagiarism in many fields. Apart from that, there are high chances that thoughts of one particular individual could directly collide with another. What happens here? It isn’t actual plagiarism here. But, the thoughts will be similar. The result is that the work of the writer wouldn’t look original anymore though it is his own original idea. Why does this collision of thoughts happen? How to make sure it doesnt happen in your own film?

Let me give you a situation.  How many of us realised that Autograph (2004) and Premam (2015) have the similar story line indeed? Yet, these two films are appreciated by each of us exceedingly. Why? It is because of the originality that these two films possess in them. The entire world that was created in both the films, the realism handled differently in both the films with utmost care are all the contributing factors for the originality in them.  Now this is a collision of similar thoughts in minds of both these directors. But, these directors have made sure that however similar the storyline maybe, their signature and originality wasn’t lost in it. This is something many have fail to do so nowadays.  

Consider Mersal (2017) and abhoorva sagodhargal (1987). Mersal didn’t possess the originality that the latter had in it.  This is how most of our short films have been. We all know the amount of short films dealing with love and drugs. All of them have the similar storyline and similar treatment to it. In such a case, the originality is lost and the audience is also pissed. How to overcome it?

Firstly, Why does the clash of thoughts occur?

One cannot avoid the clash of thoughts with some other random person. It can happen anyway in ways that we cannot imagine. But, if two persons grow up in a similar environment, their thoughts are bound to obviously be identical in many ways. We can overcome this clash for sure. The number of short films with similar stories are proofs to this. Almost, all of us are mostly influenced by similar things due to the reach of social network.  We watch similar things, have similar habits, do similar things and the result is we share similar thoughts.  This might sound a little abstract but when one looks into it deep down, it will make sense for each of us.

How to go about it?

I believe reading and adaptation are the key.  When one is going to educate oneself by reading a lot of literature of any form, he/she naturally is prone to a new world of thoughts. This world is completely devoid of something that he/she is. One could always pick one of these thoughts and adapt it to one’s story. One may ask, isn’t that copying? No it isn’t. Adaptation doesn’t equal to plagiarism.  Adaptation in fact gives birth to a new room of thoughts for us. If one takes in any great film that involves a lot of layers and depth, it would surely be based on a novel or adapted from a novel. Films like Gone girl (2014). But, these are literal novel based films (translations from book to films).

I’m talking about taking in the core of a film from any reading material.  There’s a saying in filmmaking that ‘the more rooted the film is with the audience, the greater it is’. This means, no matter how complex your screenplay or the concept of story is, the core of the story has to be something that is rooted for the audience.  For instance, Interstellar (2014) a space adventure film with complex concepts can be brought down to the core of a father wanting to meet his daughter.  Consider any great film for that matter of fact. Thevar magan (1992) is a film involving a lot of caste violence and issues related to it. But the core of the film is that of a brother rivalry.

Establishing a rooted core

In the quest of attaining originality in films, one doesn’t have to break heads to come up with a mindblowing core. The core has to be very rooted and relatable for the audience. The originality comes on top of it. It is in how well the screenplay is woven around the concept. How well the heroism in the story is dealt with and how neatly the emotions are done with. One might ask now, how does one attain this originality after the core. It is the same answer. The more literate one becomes, there are more thoughts for one to explore with.

Let us take Kaala (2018). How many films have we watched with a storyline of that of kaala? Kabali is a similar storyline in fact. We’ve been watching this plot from years until now. Yet, Kaala did have its own original depth and experience. How did ranjith bring out this origninality in Kaala? Its through a lot of research that went behind the writing of this film. This research helped the makers in creating a more real & original feel. Also, ranjith is an avid reader of literature and we can see the result in his films. Infact, Kaala is a perfect example of how originality could be achieved by having a very thin storyline no matter how similar it is with another story.  

Also, originality doesn’t always need to be with respect to the writing. We have been obsessed with this concept of ‘writer & director’ to be the same person. One could always employ a writer and a director could display his signature on the writing of another individual. This way, there is a collaborative effort to the film that will be original on its own. This idea is far away here in kollywood. Malayalam film industry nowadays have directors that employ writers and we know the result.


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