Another week another update. The funny thing about writing these blogs is that I never think I'll have enough to say, then I end up writing 4 pages or something like that. There's always a bit of languid uncertainty when it comes to writing for this website. I'll have a general idea of what I want, and then I completely chuck it out in favor of something that I find more interesting. Not so coincidentally this week's update is about having to deal with that same type of uncertainty regarding my short film.
This entry is going to be a focused document on my creative process on my short film, now called 'Quiet' (formerly 'A bad day' and prior to that 'Anger). It may feel a bit early to talk about it, but recently I had to make a very important creative decision pertaining to this film. Events like what I'm about to talk about pop up a lot in creative fields and I think I can give a little insight on how I handled it, so maybe you can be just a teeny bit more prepared when facing creative problems of your own.
Before I get started, let me go through a quick timeline of the inception of the film. Around July of last year, while doing a temp job and doing preliminary sketches of 100% Inked. I came up with two short film ideas. One of them was a little film called 'Anger' (the other one will not be spoken of at this time). When I the idea of the film came to me, I was in a weird place mentally and got attached to it. I tend to not express anger or rage in public, so the appeal of doing a film based solely on that emotion felt like it could generate a nice level of catharsis for me. The idea of the film lingered in my head until I started working on it in December. At that time, the idea of the film seemed pretty good to me, but little did I know of the lingering problems to the story.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END?!?
Working on the film was pretty smooth at first. There were some great ideas, and due to the vividness of the core idea, I had a really easy time creating the characters and situations. This time frame of seamless creative realization came to a halt after about two weeks of working on the film. Unfortunately, some problems I overlooked at the very beginning of the film had started to surface in really troubling ways. Without giving anything away, one of the gags of the story became a crutch and the entire film relied on it. I felt that would skew the message I originally wanted with the film. I couldn't shake this problem, and to compound it, everything else was great! The gags and situations, in isolation were really fun, but the film I wanted to make wouldn't work with cool little incidents. I needed a good story and that was the weakest part of the film by a mile.
Doodle-me's concerned look.
When I work on a project, I like to establish a philosophy of design so that I have tools ready to bring out the strengths of the project and to make it resonate with more people. For films, generally and for the sake of brevity I like simple problem, a resolution that's consistent to the stories themes, and a good variety of build up to a cathartic moment. I believe when these factors are fleshed out, you can make a truly remarkable film. Those were the standards I set for the film and simply put, it didn't meet any of them. I had this lingering doubt about the film in my head so I consulted on of my friends to get a different perspective. I gave her the outline and her critiques perfectly matched what I was doubting but I did not want to hear any of that. The critique didn't sit well with me. I had a lot of conflicting thoughts but I think the most detrimental one was that I simply was too attached to the original idea I had. When you have the idea of something in your head and you cling to it, when it comes time to rework it, it may be a lot harder to walk away from the initial premises you set up and that's the problem I had.
I was at a crossroad of nostalgia and project integrity- Let me be clear before I finish this thought. ANYTHING can become a thorn in the side of your project and you must know how to deal with it if you ever want to finish anything. How you deal about it is totally up to you, but sometimes you may have to resort to drastic measures to get a project that's worth working on. Anyway, I was at a crossroad and I needed to make a decision: hold onto a weak idea for the sake of my ego or let it go and make something that would be worth watching? Phrased this way it makes the choice sound obvious, but as these thoughts go through your head and emotions color your reasoning, it becomes very difficult and personal.
Kill your babies
This is the most important part of the creative process, if something isn’t working, don’t feel like you have to keep it. This is called 'Killing your babies'. It's macabre I know, but it's the most important lesson any artist can learn. Content above all. The most important thing is that you feel that what you are working on is good according to whatever standards you set. There's a time and place for your emotions to power your creative process, but it might not be the best idea to use them when you're asking yourself if you should invest your time and money into a project that has questionable quality.
Eventually I decided to trash the original concept of my short film and almost immediately the floodgates opened and I had such vivid ideas to choose from. I took some of what I liked from the previous version and molded something entirely new. Ideas that didn't work before, turn out to work great for this. The new short is sharper, paced better, funnier and more consistent than before.
I want to reiterate that you must not be afraid to start over if it means your project will be better. Leave your pride and memories at the door and make a great product first and foremost. I think if you're willing to sacrifice your poorer ideas for better ones, and separate your emotions in favor of reason during that crossroad of the creative process, you'll be on your way to making great content. Of course there are so many other factors at play but I think this is the one thing that has always tripped up creative thinking. The most important part of creative thinking, to me is knowing when you're withholding yourself from being creative because you're too attached to how something was than how it should be.
"To attain something of greater value, one must give up something of lesser value". Like this guy's heart.