The creative process

When asked by a studio head once how I would direct the film, I said, well ….. Ummmm ….. I would put some film in the camera ….. And umm …. I would find a nice place to put the camera and umm ….. Needless to say I did not get the job, nor would I work with anyone that asked me that question…..

The process of creativity, if not a great adventure of exploration is flat and unimaginative… Like job work. We thrive on being surprised by our own work, while increasingly we are asked to be able to explain exactly what we are planning. Like asking Piccaso to explain the colour schemes of his paintings before he has done them.
So what others see as chaos, independance, or even arrogance is nothing but us protecting that child within us that is completely at play. For on the child’s naïve and innocent play, or on that child’s anguish, depends our ability to create.

16 thoughts on “The creative process

  1. While creative freedom is an intrinsic element of the canvas for the emergence of brilliant masterpieces, isn’t questioning the creative process an inevitable fallout of commercial intent for the creative work? Isn’t questioning inevitable when there exists a dichotomy of interests and purpose – between those who create and those who commercialize?
    So, Shekhar, is there an optimal manner to strike a harmonious balance between retaining creative freedom and the economics of creating? How can the child at play collaborate with other children at play, who rather than limit each other’s creativity, empower each other to collectively build bigger and more enchanting sand castles? Is that an oxymoron in the world of film?

  2. my whole point is how far one can explore if there are needs of the market?
    and the kind of projects i read you are planning are so HUGE that producers or EPs or many other people must be bugging your head…and it is bound to happen…
    is it so that you found a producer for The Golden Age because they sensed and understood your vision? or is it because it was a sequel of an Oscar Nominated Film… Nominated and Award Winner crew was involved…the story is of THE QUEEN so x % of audience is fixed… so the whole PROJECT is VIABLE and because of that you got a producer…?
    now again is not about finding a producer …its about how far were you or are u able to keep that CHILD inside you alive in the process?
    and i felt this need to ask you or share my thought process only because FILM is a collaborative effort… if it would have been about painting or sculpting or music it would have been easier for me to put forward my point… But Films!… its tricky!…
    fuck it…at the end as you said… keeping the child inside you alive and keep exploring… thats what matters…
    but some day i will try to ask the same question in much better and resolved way!…
    take care…tata…kedar…

  3. hahaha… Kavitha thank you!… you should be writing for a media…say a news paper!!! …you will do wonders!
    thats the question ! …dude… ammm more or less…yeah…!
    thank you Kavitha!

  4. yah…and so directors shd not produce their films…that shd solve it. Planning shoud only help the creative process but creativity is momentary and spontaneous and shd be free from previous plans or any other pressure. Shekhar, do artists usually hate competition? That would be extreme pressure to perform. May be thats the reason its hard to find true creativity in films these days. Theres the pressure of the studios, the financiers, time constraints, dates, etc etc.

  5. ..I suppose it’s the conflict between what you might want to do inside your head, and how others see your role from the standpoint of their own (narrow ?) concerns…between either just enjoying the process or merely serving a purpose…
    Producers are a necessary pain in the ass…like an over concerned “career mother” who wants to steer her child towards something, whilst the child merely wishes to enjoy what it is doing…
    Along the way comes a bargaining process of “if you want “x” you must do “y” for me” – which can crush creativity…

  6. amm…now…stretching it further… a child and other children at play… cant they exist in the same person? … the commercial children and the creative children inside the same person…how often we are able to strike the balance with in our self?
    ‘if you want ‘x’ you must do ‘y’ for me’…. this happens within us before it happens out side!…
    and if life is completely based on Passion…this question does not arise at all!!!
    take care…tata…kedar…

  7. Dear Shekhar,
    One of the most important things that my father has taught me (who has always been a planning and quality control executive) is that to succeed in life we have to move away from ‘EMOTIONAL THINKING’ and enter the world of ‘ACCURATE THINKING.’
    This means a critical analysis of the situation in an unbiased manner and then finding the best solution for everyone involved.
    The most important thing is to understand the motivation of the Studio head. He and the other top players in the studio have two main tasks. First, to fill the slate for a year or two, and second to manage the process all the way through. The studio head is not really basking in the glory of running a big studio, but is under tremendous pressure from his corporate bosses sitting in New York and Wall Street analysts, who are only concerned about quarterly results.
    The two key words for the Studio are ‘CONTROL’ and ‘MANAGE.’ By control, I mean financial control of each outbound and inbound dollar. When the studio executive is saying that to you, he is basically voicing his own concerns i.e. I have to report to my corporate bosses, and I want to be sure that this project will make money. His position is equally vulnerable as heads roll whenever a couple of big projects don’t deliver.
    The Studios have constantly used various methods to control costs and enhance their net income. These include things like inflating the ‘Negative Cost’ by using high union/soundstage rates and other overheads, and then charging a high distribution fee before paying out the gross participants.
    The Management part is what annoys the true auteurs the most as the studios ask them to make many changes and treat the project in an industrial manner. Again, they are essentially managing a very chaotic process with so many moving parts. There are so many things outside their control (e.g. changing public tastes, the kind of movies that will be in the market when this film will be released etc.) and they are just trying to hedge their bets based on whatever they believe will maximize the returns.
    There is a saying that today Hollywood spends 80% of the time making deals and 20% of the time making movies. Therefore, the people who are at the core of this process (the agents and entertainment lawyers) automatically become the most important people in Hollywood. I believe anyone who is totally creative will feel a bit frustrated with this management structure, but this is a constraint that all filmmakers have to deal with. Some say that the people who run the studios do not know enough about filmmaking. The answer is that in a purely financial sense, they do not need to – they only need to be experts at packaging, distributing and marketing a product, which is where all their energy goes into.
    Most of the top directors who constantly get ‘final cut’ still work inside this management structure and use their creative excellence to influence all the parts of the film to come up with a product that has their unique stamp (and when all is said and done, they are the ones who enter the public consciousness and bask in the glory).
    Thank you,
    Himanshu – NY

  8. Dear Shekhar
    Well said. Thoughts about the creative, the child, the play and the anguish have been on my mind a lot recently.
    love, Heath

  9. thanks. i needed this. am writing my first novel and everypne keeps assking me what its about. how its goignt o end. where its going. i keep wondering how im supposed to know and have recently stopped writiong out of self doubt. much needed. back to the keyboards.

  10. it is better than being asked ‘why should we hire you?’ after a two hour interview.haha.

  11. Dear Shekhar,
    Well put.But the point is to be able to reap your creativity’s rewards too.Not only artistic or aesthetic but material and social as well. To be able to live on your success like Piccaso and not die in the creative process like Van Gogh or Gaugin and let others later-on sing about how tragically great you were or could have been.
    But yes,maybe when the child within has proven oneself once, breaking all the moulds, then the “mindsets” follow the child because now they know its the “golden” one.

  12. Dear Shekharji,
    I m naren from mumbai. I have a story in mind which will perfectly suit for hollywood movie gener, and It will not take more than 2 lines to tell you.
    an astronaut wents to an unknown planet which has same enviromental conditions like our earth and helps out the people to make their life easy as they are they are behind us thousands of years.
    Please inform me if would like to hear full concept

  13. Now that you mention, what do u think about a biographical film on Pablo Picasso-only on his ‘painter’ aspect to show what creative people or artists really are and freeing many budding artists of the trauma they have to face.
    The film could be named-“The first modern Olympics to Moon landing”
    Chronology of Pablo Picasso’s Life Events
    1881: Picasso born in Málaga, Spain
    1886: First modern Olympics is held in Athens, Greece
    1896: Picasso enters Barcelona School of Fine Arts
    1899: First magnetic recording of sound
    1900-04: Picasso’s “Blue Period” – lived in France
    1905: Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity
    1905-06: Picasso’s “Rose Period” –more upbeat reds and pinks – Inspired by the Circus
    1906: Picasso’s proto-cubism. Introduced to Georges Braque in 1907.
    1908-20: Picasso’s Cubism Period– Inspired by Paul Cezanne. Picasso sees African art at the Trocadero – inspired by African masks.
    1914-18: World War I —1917:U.S. enters World War I
    1914-20: Picasso paints in realist style. Some work shows the style of surrealism.
    1929: Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City. Stock Market Crash October 29.–Great Depression
    1930: Cubism and synthetic cubism-inspired by Marie Therese Walter
    1937: Painted Guernica – portrayal of the horrors of war.
    1939-45: With arrival of World War II, Picasso works with death as a subject
    1945: U.S. Drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan –ending World War II.
    1940’s on– Picasso’s art based on those of the early masters. Works in ceramics and printmaking. Makes reduction linoleum popular.
    1960:TV sets number 85 million in the US.
    1963: President John F. Kennedy assassinated.
    1968: With Lynden Johnson as President- the Viet Nam War escalates.
    1969: Neil Armstrong walks on moon.
    1973: Pablo Picasso passed away April 8

  14. Heck, if I’m not sure where I’m headed with a script, I often think the best thing to do is give them AN answer… and then not feel obliged to do the same thing when I actually write it. “Oh, I tried that,” one can always say. “It didn’t work.”
    At least, I’m tempted to. I usually tell the truth. Which sometimes leads to the situation you describe. “I’ll work that out when I’m working on the project,” I say, though not in those words…

  15. Lol very well said, lol lol, Liked that expression, I personally feel those who ask to explain are the ones who are not sure of thier own convictions, we are true thats why we are ready to face that creativity within, are they? Is my question loool!
    Gud one Shekar!

  16. i really think dat when we embark on a creative process we have an end in sight,for instance say picasso starts painting he seeks to bring into d world a picture only he can see in his mind i.e.he already knows what he wants to achieve,d only problem i think we have is communicating this end to others and making them see what u want to achieve.
    i think as creative people if we would like to combine our creativity and give birth to that child within us with a businessworld were people seek to invest profitably, we should develop the skill to communicate those pictures which we seek to bring to life to normal people so they can share our vision and hv the confidence to invest in us.

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