A frenchman named Maxime Barbier copied one of my movies, the concept, the idea, nearly scene for scene, and in places line for line. Then he sold that movie to Coca Cola. Then he thanked me on Facebook for the ‘inspiration’.
New Years Eve 2012 I embraced my inner romantic, spontaneously bought a plane ticket and flew to South Africa to surprise my girlfriend who was there for the holidays with her parents. It was exciting, I filmed it, as I do everything, and made a 6 minute movie about the adventure. Her mom loved the movie. Last month I married that girl, our wedding was in South Africa of course.
The 6 minute movie I made was called The Surprise in South Africa.
This morning I found a few emails that had been sent to my website and a handful of tweets bringing my attention to a video called ‘For Love, I Traveled 8500km To Spend 48 hours With My Girlfriend’. One such email from a man named Esteban Merlin eloquently read;
I just wanted to tell you that a parisian asshole just copied your video “The surprise in South Africa” and sold it to Coca-Cola in Paris.
Have a nice day my friend. Sorry about french people.
I watched the movie, it really upset me.
Par amour, il fait 8500km pour passer 48 heures… by minutebuzz
It’s hard to pin point why this upsets me so much. Copying is part of the game. This is not the first, certainly won’t be the last, time something like this takes place. Maybe it’s because my movie was made purely out of love and happiness. I wasn’t explicitly making a movie, that wasn’t the motivation to surprise my girl. I was just stuck on planes for 27 hours so I filmed everything. It was only a few weeks after the trip that my friend Max Joseph helped me steer it into a movie after I showed him the footage of her screaming when she saw me standing at her door 8,000 miles away from home. Or maybe that I’ve never made any money off of my video, I don’t even have it monetized on YouTube. It’s a story that has made me so happy to relive again and again by watching my movie and watching this interloper’s shitty Coca-Cola rip-off just ruins it for me.
Like this experience that was so intimate and pivotal in my life can just be reproduced and sold in 12oz red cans.
As a filmmaker the greatest compliment anyone can bestow on me is that my work inspires others to create. I love seeing videos, often made by young students and new filmmakers, that emulate my style. I spend time working with kids showing them how I make movies teaching them my techniques.
Here’s a great video by my friend Jack, he’s 11 and after seeing my movie about relief in the philippines he was motivated to do something and he did. Then he made this rad movie about it.
I watch and draw inspiration from my favorite filmmakers, Kubrick, Anderson, Tarantino, Charles and Ray Eames all of their work influences mine.
That’s the magic of art. Great ideas promote more great ideas.
What this Maxime character did was different. He didn’t act out of inspiration, he wasn’t influenced and motivated to create his own work. He took something that wasn’t his then exploited it. He should be ashamed.
Rarely ever reblog, but Casey Neistat is a fantastic filmmaker and says some good words about being inspired versus stealing.