UPDATE: Buzzfeed spoke with Dan Clowes, who says that LaBeouf ripped off his strip without permission:
“The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LeBeouf,” Clowes told BuzzFeed. “I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did 6 or 7 years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.”
I just shared with you Shia LaBeouf's new short film, Howardcantour.com, which is a rumination on/takedown of online film critics. There's a sadness in the short, and a true knowingness about elements of junket life. What is it missing? A credit that it's based, word for word, on a Daniel Clowes comic strip.
This strip was included in The Book of Other People, which was edited by Zadie Smith and featured short character sketches from writers like Nick Hornby, Miranda July and Dave Eggers. Clowes' contribution was called Justin M. Damiano, and it is a sketch of an online film critic and junketeer. The Book of Other People was a charity anthology; none of the writers were paid and all the proceeds went to the 826NYC creative writing non-profit.
Howardcantour.com is a complete transcription of the strip. It is credited as "A Shia LaBeouf FIlm" and includes credit for a Script Supervisor, but no credit for writer or for Clowes' original work. All of the character names have been changed, but everything else is, as I said, word for word.
I'm trying to get in touch with Clowes to figure out why the heck his name wouldn't be anywhere on this short - maybe because of the strips' origin as a non-profit piece? I have no real idea. I reached out to LaBeouf via Twitter; while he followed me back he didn't answer my question about Clowes' involvement. As soon as I hear something - from Clowes or LaBeouf - I'll report back.