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The Gist: The movie "Do Revenge" is a fantastic example of how "everything is a remix" and ways new content creators and marketers can use remixing for inspiration.

Have you ever seen the video Everything is a Remix?

It’s a fascinating documentary by filmmaker Kirby Ferguson, about how no creative works are truly original.

They all come from somewhere, have influences, make references.

They’re all remixes.

Everything is a remix

The gist of the video is that remixing is at the core of creativity.

Kirby’s definition of remixing has three components:

  • Copying
  • Transforming
  • Combining

And he points to how these components are present at every stage of the creative process, especially for the most prolific creators with popular works.

For example, he shows how Star Wars is a remix of:

  • the classic hero’s journey
  • Flash Gordon serials from the 1930s
  • Akira Kurosawa films
  • American Westerns
  • and more

Star Wars didn’t become what it was because it was wholly original, but rather because it was an original combination of existing elements and influences.

The video is one of the influences that led me to coin the content remix methodology.

I love bringing the remix mindset into content marketing.

We don’t always…or even ever…need to start from scratch.

We can remix what’s already been made, both by our brand and those that came before us and influenced or inspired us.

Do Revenge is remix culture done right

I’ve been thinking about the idea that everything is a remix a lot since watching Do Revenge on Netflix.

The movie is a brazen, unapologetic mashup of teen comedy movies from the past few decades.

Some of the sendups are subtle…

  • The school uniforms are a nod to the classic plaid outfits in Clueless.
  • Some characters play croquet, like in Heathers.
  • There’s a tour/breakdown of the school cliques, a la Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, AND Mean Girls.
  • There’s also a 10 Things I Hate About You-style paint-fight-turned-first-kiss.
  • The soundtrack includes music other teen movies, like the song Kids in America and artists like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Cranberries, Fatboy Slim, and Meredith Brooks. (The usage of Kids in America was, in my opinion, particularly perfect.)
  • Of course, there’s a makeover scene. Of course.
  • They also recreated some shots from the fountain scene in Scream.

Other references, though? Not so subtle:

  • One scene unfolds with the two characters standing outside a Horowitz Hall.
  • Sarah Michelle Geller of Cruel Intentions is the headmaster of the prep school.
  • One character is seen reading Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the book Cruel Intentions is based on, and another read Strangers on a Train (see below).

And these aren’t even all the references!

Now after seeing how many references to other movies it has, you might think Do Revenge sounds incredibly reductive and predictable.


It was one of the best movies I’ve watched this year, and it was ANYTHING but predictable.

(If you’ve watched the movie, you know the twist I’m talking about and you know how jaw dropping it was.)

And the key to it being such an enjoyable watch was how creatively it remixed its influences.

It referenced different things in different ways.

And had a large number of sources, and they were a broad range of things, not just a handful of similar movies from the same era.

For example, for all the nods to 80s, 90s, and 00s teen comedies, the movie that it's undoubtedly influenced by the most is Hitchcock’s Strangers on Train from 1951, which the whole premise of the plot is based on (not a spoiler, this is shown in the trailer).

Plus, for all the nostalgia triggers on the soundtrack, there are also modern artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Hayley Kiyoko.

And there’s plenty of original elements brought in as well.

Most importantly, the movie is self-aware about what it is and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It doesn’t try to hide what its influences and inspirations were, which is a big mistake when remixing people that influence you.

It’s in on the joke, and wants you to be too.

When you combine this wide range of influences, different ways of remixing, and the original elements brought in (like the plot twist and aesthetics, which were gorgeous)…

You get something incredibly captivating and original.

Plan your perfect repurposing strategy

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How to apply this to content remixing

Now, what can all this have to do with marketing and content remixing?

(I promise this email wasn’t JUST an excuse to gush about my new favorite movie, just an added bonus.)

Most of the content remixing I talk about is about remixing your own content from the past. 

But that’s only useful when you have content already.

What about when you’re just starting out?

This is when curating and remixing other people’s content is going to be really helpful.

When you’re just starting out with content creation and marketing, starting a new content project from scratch can be even more daunting than it usually is.

But when you intentionally remix, you don’t have to start from scratch.

There are so many people that came before you, whose work you can use as a jumping off point to develop your own.

Figure out what your biggest influences and inspirations are, and explore how you can copy, combine, and transform them.

Looking at different content initiatives and projects I’ve done in the past, here are a few examples:

  • At Work Brighter, I’ve written book review blog posts of the books that were most foundational to the brand’s ethos and values around work and productivity.
  • When I first started Work Brighter, the only content I created for it was a weekly newsletter commenting on other people’s content, until I developed enough of a point of view and perspective to add original content into the mix.
  • I’ve responded to/commented on content published by other people in my industry with a piece of my own (for example, when I write about how Mark Schaefer’s content shock blog post changed how I think about publishing).
  • A lot of Work Brighter’s content involves taking more complicated concepts I learn about in books, industry journals, and therapy, and simplifying them into digestible and approachable social posts with full credit to the originator.

But the possibilities go even further.

There are tons of other ways to do this.

Reaction videos, which I’ve written about before, are one example.

The one thing to keep in mind when remixing other people’s content is to make sure you’re still creating something original, and it’s not too similar to your inspiration.

There’s a quote from playwright Wilson Mizner that I love (and learned of via Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon): “if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research.”

Make sure you’re researching, not copying.

It also helps to cite your sources and references.

Acknowledge your creative lineage and pay respect to who came before you.

Beyond that?

Remember everything can be a remix.

Plan your perfect repurposing strategy

Download my free content repurposing planning worksheet to figure out the most strategic and intentional way to reuse and recycle your content.

Which pop star will save your content strategy_