Creativity — a word that both intrigues and intimidates at the same time and holds both negative and positive connotations. Many interpret creativity as a way of opening the mind to new ways of thinking and doing things. For others, creativity is just an excuse for not knowing how to follow structure.
In general, I feel as a filmmaker, creativity is a mixture of all these parts. Sometimes, it is a way to open the mind, but other times, it really is because we do not want to follow structure or can’t follow structure. I cannot count the number of times I have had to find a “creative” solution (for example in my finance classes) because I just simply do not know how to conventionally solve the problem!
For me, creativity is sparked by so many different factors, whether my emotional and physical well-being, the environment, events that transpired, the influences of other people, or even what I ate that day… it is hard to pin point exactly what sparks that creativity. I feel that I find creativity both when I am very relaxed, as Jonah Lehrer mentions in the article, but also when I have a set deadline and not enough time. That’s why many of my most successful film projects have contained both of these layers.
When I come to a road block when I am editing or developing a concept, I often times have to step back and do something completely different, usually something that requires little to no thinking. The reason I do this is because the harder I think about the problem, the more I psych myself out that I have to limit myself to what I have already come up with. “The solution has to be here!” I often think to myself. When I choose to stop thinking about it, then I enable myself to again think outside of the box.
Sometimes, having no structure inhibits creativity for me because I simply just do not know where to start. What happens is that I stress myself out with trying to come up with the best idea that (like buyers remorse) every time I come up with an idea I toss it out or am not completely happy with it because I wonder whether there’s a much better idea out there that I just have not thought about. Without a solid deadline, it is also easy to keep fixing and tweaking something into obsoleteness. Art is organic and most of time, there is always something that is not perfect. As an artist, I often forget that it is these imperfections that make art unique and special. As a result, I find myself operating as a perfectionist and unfortunately, nothing is ever perfect and consequently the project never gets finished.
Example: I have a white board that I write up deadlines for myself. I also have a little box titled “The Black Hole” of projects that have been open for years that I have not had the incentive to finish because there was no deadline. And unfortunately, 2 or 3 years later I find myself not wanting to finish these Black Hole projects because my skill level has already surpassed what it had been at the time of these Black Hole projects.
Being comfortable and also not being comfortable can help to inspire creativity. Being comfortable plays into the need for relaxation. When I am comfortable, for example, when I am in my own room editing, I do not feel vulnerable. I feel uninhibited to express how I feel without any threat from people negating those ideas. It allows me to laugh out loud, to cry, and to talk to myself and walk around naked, without having to worry about what other people think. Now, this can also backfire. When I am too comfortable in my own environment, then it is easy to be autonomous and to think that my way is the only way that works.
To solve this problem, I like to invite people that I trust to give me their unbiased opinions on how I can improve a project. These stakeholders involve people that I have worked with for a while or people that I look towards as “experts”. Sometimes having groups of people to discuss an idea helps to move the creative process, especially when I hit a road block. In filmmaking, it is almost rare if a film is even 60% the same as how it was originally planned. Along the way, groups of creative minds leave their own marks on a project.
To answer the question: “Do you think you, as an individual, are even capable of being creative by yourself? And, better yet, do you think a group within an organization is capable of being creative?” the answer is yes to both questions. I can be creative by myself, but many times I require the efforts of a team to further push my creative limiations.
Finding myself outside of my comfort zone also helps to inspire creativity. It forces me to think in a way that I would have normally not have had to. I really enjoy taking on projects that I would not normally do. I recently filmed a country music video for example. I am not much of a country music listener by any means, but I think that is why the project came out so well. Having a completely “child” like perspective can yield a lot of creative development. If I came into the project as an expert, I would have expectations as to how I thought a country music video should be like, thus limiting myself.
Yet, there’s a contra argument to unfamiliarity breeding creativity. As mentioned in the article, expertise also enables me to be more creative. As I learn more about filmmaking, I am able to try more techniques and expand my creativity.
My moods often affect my creativity as well. Art draws a lot from the subconscious sate of mind. I find that I create some of my most inspired work when I am affected by extreme sadness. Something about extreme spectrums of emotion and the need to unleash that emotion helps me to yield the strongest and most extreme works of art.
Conclusively, creativity is a hodgepodge of many diverging and complementary forces. Both comfort and unfamiliarity helps to grow creativity and I truly believe creativity cannot exist without both. Different environments, such as being alone and working as a group, all help to build creativity as well. Creativity has no balance, just the right moment — whether that moment means being completely out of my element in India with a group of amazing people, or in the most comfortable place in my room by myself.