I have been asked a fair bit about doing how-to videos, and blogging about film and media techniques I’ve used in the past. I am not the sort of person to share my methods with other people; not because I am selfish and like to keep them a secret, but because I believe creative style differs from person to person. So what is the point in sharing methods when they could easily be done in an infinite amount of ways in an infinite amount of directions.
There is some things though that creatives can share in order to help and assist others reach their full creative capacity. Hopefully what I write in this article will be helpful to all of you that are reading it, and I’ll write a few more in the future when I have the time.
If you look around you and see the way our society is built, its built on a model where mistakes are the worst thing a person can do. Our schooling system has been created for young people to spend up to 15 years of their life preparing to enter the real world with the stigma that if they make a mistake, all those years were for nothing. How is one to learn if they can’t trial and error certain things so they can grow as a person. Well this principal is the backbone behind the fundamentals of creativity. In order for creativity to flourish, one has to take risks, and not be afraid to make mistakes. One of my favourite TED presentation videos from back in 2006 from university professor Sir Ken Robinson, states that we ruthlessly drive people out of creativity as it doesn’t fit to the criteria of the ‘stable form of life’ i.e. stable job, married etc. Even though I agree with this to a point, I also believe people drive creativity out of people out of jealousy and spite. Even though our school systems label creativity and the arts down the bottom of essential curriculum, regular society see “Creative Industries” as the highest regard of social economics. I believe that is the case because recognised creatives risk and sacrifice without being consumed by consequences, and this is seen to non-creatives as a huge positive to one’s character. Live on a floor and eat noodles for your art philosophy.
There have been times where I have seen being in ‘Creative industries’ as being a huge curse. Part of me sees my peers from high school who have gone on to lead simple, uncomplicated lives and part of me sometimes wishes that my life had taken a simpler path. But if I look back on all the creative endeavours I have been involved with since leaving high school, I know that not to be true. It’s what I am best at, so I stuck with it and didn’t give up. For me, taking mass risks and diving in head first has always been my philosophy. I look at past colleagues who had huge talent to go far, only to end up not achieving any of their goals because they didn’t possess the self-belief to move forward and take risks. They end up like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. Vast knowledge but no self motivation to move beyond the comfortable.
I’ll give you an example from 5 years ago. I decided to do another Business Course when I arrived in Brisbane in 2007. It’s here where I met my best friends Niesha and her two brothers Ruwan and Romesh De Silva. At the time of meeting them in late 2007, Ruwan and his friend Joshua Beahan were currently shooting a ‘time-lapse’ style short film called, “The Covenant Of Mr. Kasch”. Without any previous experience in making movies, the boys had jumped in head first. I mean, head first without a net. But in spite of the challenges that lay ahead, and not being afraid of taking creative risks, the two boys had set a goal of having this short movie finished by the Cannes Film Festival deadline which was 9 months from when they started started shooting. At the time of me joining the team, I had no experience with making narratives. But at the time, I had more technical knowledge with post-production, so with all of us combined, we morphed into the equivalent of one barely functioning film mofo. Then begun the most craziest 5 months of our lives. The learning curve for all of us to make this movie in the time frame was insane. This whole thing was shot on a DSLR, and just so you know, this was way before the Canon 5D Mk2 revolution. Ruwan shot the whole short using stills, utilising the Super 35mm sized frame on a Nikon D200, which allowed him the added advantage of using his Nikon still lenses, which at the time , that sort of quality was not attainable for low budget film making, even in 2006. All up, 11 minutes of movie worked out to be 60000+ individual frames. Once that was done, Ruwan took the 60000+ frames of the movie and individually cropped, colour graded and batched every single frame in Photoshop by hand before handing it over to Josh so he could put the stills together in movie sequences in Final Cut Pro. Unfortunately over time, small mistakes started to creep in.
I had advised them to put it in a certain sequence that was fit for HD Broadcast for TV, not for Cinema, and this cost the project a whole month. We had been turning the images into film in an ancient Mac program called Apple Shake, which again, was wrong, and cost time.
But with the deadline approaching, and Ruwan and Josh slowly losing the plot from lack of sleep, the movie slowly took form. The soundtrack was slowing getting there, the footage was looking great, and the finish line was in sight. The night before the cut off point for Cannes was the hardest and most gruelling night of the whole process as it went down to the wire. We all went into overdrive, and with the nightmare of computer crashes, hard drive failures and being awake for over 32 hours, the film got posted minutes before the Post Office shut. But it was done. The goal that everyone thought would be impossible became a reality.
But this is not the end of the story. The film didn’t get into Cannes. It did however, win a multitude of awards including ‘Best Animation’ at the Inside Film Awards, beating out the animators who worked on, “Finding Nemo”. The question on all of our lips was how? Well, it all came down to jumping in head first and not being afraid of failure. Ruwan and Josh had thought the unthinkable and made it into a reality. The reality still hadn’t sunk in whilst standing there in front of Australia’s Arts and Entertainment Elite whilst accepting that award from Australian acting legend Bill Hunter. The risk had paid off, and as Ruwan pulled 90’s TV host Sophie Lee drunkenly out of the hotel pool at 7am the next morning, the pain and sacrifice had been worth it.
I guess the point of this article is to hopefully inspire all of you reading it, to get out there and make a fool of yourself. Makes mistakes, don’t stick to what you know, test, experiment, and above all, have fun. Cause you never know if you will succeed or not if you don’t try. I suppose this advice stretches out beyond creativity as well. Take some chances and live life, cause you never know if Bert Newton is around that corner ready to talk about his hair.