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Nothing is original

Submitted by on May 12, 2010 – 9:24 am 7 Comments

Jim Jarmusch is an independent film director (who directed Ghost Dog and many other movies), and below is one of his “golden rules”. It’s about film making, but I think it’s just as applicable to music as it is to film. Read it, and let us know what you think:

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery. celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”


  • Although the case was eventually dismissed, it’s worth noting that Jim Jarmusch was sued for allegedly stealing the script for Broken Flowers from a writer who had submitted it for circulation to many people who were eventually involved with the production.

    • vince52 says:

      I read the script of the sad sack who sued Jim Jarmusch. Pathetic, unimaginative, and completely different from, and inferior to, anything Jarmusch wrote. But this quote by Jarmusch gave Mr. Notalent a chance to sue a real artist.

  • calvin says:

    holy cow, i think this is amazing and i agree. very well articulated. i really like the part about celebrating the thievery too.

  • Colin C says:

    Jim is great, I have this printed and on my fridge. No truer words spoken for ANY type of artist.

  • Marvin says:

    I remember coming to this conclusion myself about 10 years ago… Creativity isn’t coming up with an idea “out of nowhere.” I believe true originality/creativity is when you combine ideas in new interesting ways. This is why (like Jim Jarmusch) said the key is to take inspiration from as many different places as possible… What makes something very derivative is when you can see almost all of the inspiration is from one particular thing… When something seems original it’s because it’s hard to place all of the influences.

  • Cornelius says:

    Screenwriter Reed Martin sued Jarmusch in March 2006, claiming that the director stole the film’s concept from a very similar script that had circulated among several people eventually involved in the production. Jarmusch denied the charges and stated in response that Martin’s claim has “absolutely no merit.”[4] On September 28, 2007, a Los Angeles federal court jury rejected Martin’s claim that Jarmusch and Focus Films stole the screenplay from Martin.

  • Jack Hertz says:

    Brilliant! History shows that Piracy rules:
    The Pirates Dilemma

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