Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Reflections on creativity

It's good to be back.

I've just been on one of those crazy production periods where you're working thirteen hours a day for six days a week.  It's hard work but I do enjoy it - seeing a show come to life before your eyes.

It fascinates me watching the creatives at work.  The starting point of a scene/show/piece of work is very different to the end product (inevitably lauded as something special).  It's that development process which I find incredibly inspiring.

I was working with a very well respected director recently whose whole thing was to avoid what he called 'usual'.  Not in a wacky, "I'm different, me" way but in an avoidance of mundanity and cliche.  We'd build a scene (which inevitably I'd find amazing) but he'd pace around the auditorium musing on how it wasn't working because it was too 'usual'.  He'd then spend ages on trying out discordant notes until he'd find something that worked.  Often it was only something minor like a light flashing where you wouldn't expect it but it introduced a vague sense of unease.

Besides a feeling of pride at being involved in such an amazing production, it left me with a better feeling of how to be creative.  I have lots of ideas but I often get frustrated because they don't seem to work.  I realised, after working with him, that your first go doesn't necessarily have to be any good, it's just the starting point.  I think the idea is to have knowledge of the 'grammar' of expressing an idea and know how to subvert it, or not, to tell your story.

Let me explain what I mean by 'grammar'...

We all know how to watch films/theatre etc.  When the Lumiere brothers first showed their film of a train pulling into a station to an unschooled audience, people were terrified because they didn't know how to read it - they just assumed it was an actual train coming towards them through the screen.


Over a hundred years later, we're so well versed in interpreting film it feels natural.  If we're watching a film for instance, we know that it's not a real time narrative but we suspend our disbelief for the 90 minutes of the film.  We know that the train is not going to emerge from the screen.  That knowledge of the conventions of what we're watching is the grammar.

Knowing the grammar but choosing to subvert and knowing how to subvert successfully was definitely part of the Famous Director's schtick.  I'm definitely going to try it in my own stuff.  


Coulda shoulda woulda said...

this is very interesting bc i think like real language it changes constantly no? I find that most tv and movie watchers are getting so much more sophisticated that i am in awe with people who manage to keep it all riveting! It is a brave person who is still creative I say.

Chinwags and Tittle-Tattles said...

Thank you for your tutorial on grammar in terms of film production. I learned a whole new definition of grammar. I find that I tend to stay away from formula films. I'd rather watch the old ones as the creativity is original. They say that creativity comes naturally. I think it does, but only when you experiment. Along the way, you'll find out what works and what doesn't. Have a good weekend x


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