“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
Writers and filmmakers are obsessed with process. We love to talk about our own as well as hear from the masters. Bookstores are stacked with “how to” manuals, which has become an industry in itself. But the reality is that what works for the goose doesn’t necessarily work for the gander.
As a self-described “captain of product design,” Steve Jobs left behind a magnificent body of technological masterpieces, and no shortage of ubiquitous and inspiring quotes. He believed consumers don’t know what they want and it’s the job of the entrepreneur to show them what they cannot live without.
I’m often amazed at how little the filmmaking process has changed even though the technical tools keep coming faster and faster. Oddly, filmmakers have historically been resistant to new processes. Many feature film editors took more than ten years after Avid was in the mainstream to give up their flatbeds. And while many film purists still hold out, directors such as David Fincher and James Cameron have successfully lead the way to fully digital workflow. USC’s renowned film school uses only digital equipment now. That’s the first film school I’ve heard of that has eliminated film from their program. Often we don’t realize the changes we’re going through until they are far behind us; like looking back on trends of the decades, always hard to define until they are tiny specks in our rear view.
While technology changes exponentially, storytelling does not, and maybe that’s one of the reasons movie studios are so cautious to try new things. Fewer and fewer original films are made each year. Some say it’s because of the corporate bureaucracies. In David Mamet’s new book, “The Secret Knowledge,” he says that the film industry has become loaded with unnecessary, unqualified middle management that impedes on and often mangles the movie making process. He uses this example as a comparison to our government, but his point is well taken: Once industries get bloated, they tend not to cut back or change – unless they’re forced to.
We are now far along in the making of this Alchemist Agenda movie, midway blogging about our process, and getting more and more excited about the work. Yesterday I had a conversation with a filmmaker who is also working on a feature length test film for Amazon Studios. We were sharing our enthusiasm, imagining how this medium could evolve as the way original ideas will be proved ready for production, and take much of the guesswork and fear away from the people who have the authority to give a green light. Maybe in the future we will look back in our [proverbial] rear view mirrors and all the major studios will require these “movies-before-movies” as the bridge from script development to production. Maybe they will become something they didn’t know they wanted that turns into something they cannot live without. And maybe, just maybe, they will make movies better. Wouldn’t that be cool…?
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Think Different, Narrated by Steve Jobs