Sunday, January 11, 2009

Creativity: Part 2

If you happened to read my last post, I can only assume that you have been patiently waiting on my reveal.  You've been sitting by your computer, waiting for your inbox to ding, signifying that All Things T had come to rescue you from your creative haze.  What is the secret to becoming creative!?  How did I go from an unhappy rarely working actress to a multi-hyphenate in charge of my own destiny?  Why do I have to check my iPhone Twitter app every second and read Twilight for the 5th time?  All excellent questions but only the second question do I actually have an answer to, but hopefully it will illuminate on all the rest.  

Growing up, I always considered myself an artistic academic; I was a figure skater who's strength rested in my gracefulness and my ability to express to music, I was talented at piano and ballet. I was really smart in school, booksmart in every subject.  But I definitely sucked at art class - trying to recreate a flower or a face was impossible for me so I never pursued it. It's funny how much I love painting abstract works of art now (at the grade school level), but I digress. So I was artistic and top of my class, but I also was very insecure. I cared what my peers thought of me, wanted them to like me and didn't like to be seen as different. Being a super smart figure skater with short curly hair already labeled me as different so I wasn't about to let them in on what was going on inside my head. I most certainly wouldn't act on my thoughts. I was too much of a pleaser.  It's frustrating to look back over the past few years and see how acting (ie. auditioning) was just me trying to please the other people in the room by giving them the performance that I thought they wanted (which I thought I was able to figure out due to my intelligence).  When I boil it down, I just wanted to make them like me. Ugh. That's sadly never been my strength. I should have just been my unique, complicated self that feels entirely too much and not given a damn about what they thought.  But hindsight is 20/20.
Thus, failing as an artistic forced me to become creative.  It happened on a rainy day in Vancouver when I was sequestered in my parents' rec room perched in front of my temporary workstation, ie. a laptop and notebooks set up on a small leather trimmed card table.  The Vancouver skyline was invisible from the layers of heavy clouds suffocating the city and the only sound was the dull roar, on the floor above, of the vacuum cleaner sucking up our Goldens Retrievers' shedded fur.  There were no auditions that day, nor had there been the day before but I was making headway on getting flagged by Homeland Security and I felt really alive.  I finally felt that I was working on something that was bigger than myself.

I had had an idea for a short film that I had shared with a director that I had worked with a short time before.  I can't get into the details of it, but at the time, I wanted to write it and produce it as a means to an ends.  I wanted exposure, a platform upon which to show my true acting talents as I felt that no one really knew what I was capable of.  And the idea tied into a cultural icon that was making a resurgence.  This short would be my ticket!  My need for quick fixes struck again.  But the universe wouldn't have any of it.  My propensity for research took over and I started looking into the mythology and true history of this icon.  I came across article after article, (the internet really is a beautiful thing) and all this newly discovered information started doing strange things to me.  It started creating tiny explosions in my head that I couldn't control, and out of the bright light came images.  Storylines, characters, even full scenes that played in my head like vivid memories started hitting me.  I started to give myself over, just to the story, not to the end result, and over to not knowing where the story would take me (hence the crazy, red flagged websites that I landed on).  I would have a insane thought on a plot point and say 'why not?' and then I would research the idea and low and behold I could make it feasible, make it work for the story.  'Why not?'  Ask yourself that.  There are lots of reasons why you shouldn't, but really why not.  I also like the phrase, 'what would be cool?'.  It helped me come up with a lot of really nifty ideas- things that excite and intrigue people, that make them react.  'Cool' is the vernacular for what is the new, hip thing that captures the attention of the masses.  And coming up with something 'new' is a result of the creative process in some way or another, isn't it? 

In giving myself over to this story, I had three very important epiphanies on that rainy day. First, this story was bigger than anything that my partner and I could shoot on our own so we would just commit to writing it and reevaluate from there.  Second, I would not attach myself as the lead character as it did not best serve the story.  And third, I wanted to find something really badly that we could produce on our own.  'Ding' 'After Judgment' arrived in my email inbox from my writing partner.  It had been waiting of me to wake up.  It's been a year and a half since that moment.

It has not all been rainbows and glamorous interviews since that moment, let me tell you.  It's only been as of late that I have been taken seriously in my endeavors.  Much of that has come from taking the risk and putting myself out there personally, along with the series.  The web is an easy place to get lost and there have been myriad shows (I'll list some of my favorite shows next post) that have come and gone because the creators thought that the content would be enough, that it would speak for itself and land in the lap of a huge audience.  I didn't realize how saturated the internet is with content until I really started exploring it.  I came to understand that I would have to tell people why they should watch the show, why it was relevant and unique and why my partner and I were talented multi-hyphenate creative forces to be reckoned with, because no one else would!  They say when it comes to personal branding that you tell people something often enough, they will start to believe it.  And since I believed in my show, that was all that mattered when it came to the confidence I needed to 'sell it'.  I really only had this opportunity once we decided to release it outside the studio system.  When old media and the traditional channels for distribution didn't materialize, we were able to exercise our creativity again.  With a little help, we brainstormed on a unique way to design the site and extend the world of the show beyond the borders of the video player.  The episodes themselves were finished but 'the show' was just being born.  After our lackluster studio experience and a conversation with a successful web producer (you must meet innovators in your field and learn from them!) I realized that I didn't need permission or an agent to approach the proverbial powers that be.  If I wanted something, I just had to create the best way to ask it and then go and ask it.  Why not?  Unless you ask for it the answer is already no.  

So what have I done thus far to foster my creativity?  

1.  Identify that my artistic aspirations were not being fueled by artistic endeavors.

2.  Erase the pre-determined end result and give over to the idea and the inspiration.

3.  Ask Why Not?  

4.  Create a personal brand and don't be afraid to disregard the status quo.

I still haven't explored that whole idea of 'finding your voice' and I promise I will as that's been one of the most rewarding parts of my creative journey but as I warned you in my bio and opening post, I often have no idea where these thoughts take me and I think that I've monopolized your time enough for now.  Be back soon.

All Things T  


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