Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

Did ‘Silicon Valley’ steal the plot of this indie movie?

Austin director takes the HBO comedy to task for allegedly ripping off his plot.

 

Audra Schroeder

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Published Jun 6, 2017   Updated May 23, 2021, 4:02 am CDT

An Austin, Texas, filmmaker has put out a video showing parallels between this week’s episode of Silicon Valley and his 2015 film The Trolls.

Both the episode and the film concern patent trolls and a group of friends trying to fight back against them. But director Lex Lybrand noticed a few too many similarities to The Trolls, and compiled the offending scenes. 

https://twitter.com/greenless/status/872158952401895424

https://twitter.com/greenless/status/871946313444843520

“When I watched the episode in real time, I didn’t really notice how many similarities there were to my film,” Lybrand told the Daily Dot. “Not until Jared literally says, ‘Troll the troll.’ When he said that line of dialog, I immediately hit pause on my remote control and said ‘No. No. No.’ like 100 times.”

While the debate over ownership of a phrase like that is fairly nebulous, the irony of the situation is heavy. According to IMDb, sometime-Austinite Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky, and John Altschuler have writing credits on the episode. Lybrand started writing The Trolls, which stars several Austin comedians and was a crowdfunded effort, in 2014. He says he was very mindful of “making sure I didn’t tread the same ground as anybody else when I was writing the film.

“I reached out to Marc Maron’s producer for input because he had gone through it in real life and had an episode of his show involving a patent troll. I did the same thing with Adam Carolla and his producer. When we were shooting the film, Silicon Valley had a couple of episodes that revolved around the intellectual property related to some of the MacGuffin software, and I was so afraid that they’d eat my lunch and introduce patents into the mix. They didn’t, but I was routinely telling people that if they did, I’d shut the film down. That’s how serious I was about making sure our thing was completely original. Hell, I even changed the name of the film from Trolls to The Trolls because that animated flick was announced. Our film came out first, but I didn’t want some parent sitting their kid down to watch Justin Timberlake’s avatar dancing around and end up blasted with a bunch of F-bombs, you know?”

Disclosure: Lybrand worked as a freelance video producer for the Daily Dot in 2016. We’ve reached out to HBO for comment.

Update 8:10pm CT, June 6“We are confident that the episode is the original work of the writers of Silicon Valley,” HBO told the Daily Dot in a statement.

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*First Published: Jun 6, 2017, 4:45 pm CDT