Staying creative is tough, especially in the busy world we live in. Before we tackle how to stay creative I think it is important to look at what an idea is. An idea is not something you can purchase at a store or buy online. An idea is a fragment, something that needs to be developed into a larger, more detailed concept and/or plan. The big question is how do we find these small, incomplete ideas and develop them into something more meaningful. Here is a little comical clip from David Lynch discussing where ideas come from.
1. Get Out There
remember interning at a Church as their video guy and trying to come up with video ideas in a dimly lit office. This drained the creativity right out of me. I had nothing. John Cleese once said “We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.” I found that to be fascinating. Instead of sitting is this dark office I would sit in a coffee shop and just listen to people and their conversations. I would write down phrases or comments that I thought were interesting and I would expand on them. Creating backstories of these characters and creating stories or conflicts that they could encounter. Walter Murch once said “Every filmmaker is kind of a voyeur. We are looking at new ways of seeing things and snooping on aspects of peoples lives.” If you look at the very popular TV series Seinfield, and watch a lot of the behind the scenes featurettes, you will see how many of the shows plots and characters were actually based on real people and real incidents. Of course, they were expanded on but they were inspired by things that happened to the writers. As filmmakers we need to be more focused on our experiences and seeing the world.
2. Take A Breather
Finding time to take a breather as a filmmaker is tough. I feel like I always have something to do, whether its another cut of a music video, responding to emails or meeting up with a beginning client. There isn’t much downtime to dream and ask the What If? questions. Setting time aside to let your mind wander is invaluable. To let your creative juices flow without any restrictions is extremely important in keeping your mind fresh and this will in turn spill over into the other projects you have on the go. In order to find the time to take a breather and keep dreaming I find that I need to schedule a break. The fresh air and being in nature do great things to refresh, inspire new ideas and refuel my creativity.
The last aspect of staying creative is to share. This can be done on the internet with various blogs, but more importantly, face to face. I have found a few close people that I can share an idea with (no matter how bad) and we will both talk about whether or not it’s a good idea or how it could be better. There are no emotions or anything of that nature attached to the conversation. It is strictly about the idea. This is such a useful tool in either scrapping an idea or developing a fragment of an idea into something bigger and better. Just being able to have another viewpoint to show you something that you haven’t thought of is invaluable in the creative process.
Staying creative is tough and it gets tougher with the more paid work you do. The key that I have found is to keep the passion of filmmaking alive. Walter Murch once said that directors are the “Blessed Unrest”. We make films because we need to... it is who we are. The trick is to keep our creative juices flowing.