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Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Gladwell’

“The world needs a new culture around creativity…Being Creative makes this planet a better place.”
Chase Jarvis

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”
Genesis 1

About ten years ago I read a Tom Peters quote that off the top of my head was something like;  “Sometimes to rejuvenate yourself creatively, you need to move to another climate or another culture.” Seven years ago I moved to Iowa (“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by”—Frost) and that has made all the difference. Long story short, it turned out to be the change I needed to rejuvenate myself creatively. In a sense it was a step back from the track I had been on.

I had been on the traditional track, doing traditional things, with a traditional mindset. Even the places I lived were somewhat traditional for somebody with a creative mindset—Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando. And along the way I got to work with some good people on good productions, traveled a good bit, and kept up with the creative changes by embracing new technology as it came my way, like shooting stills and video digitally and going from editing film on a Steenbeck flatbed to editing with an AVID. (And now FCP, Motion, Soundtrack, etc., etc.)

But I ways also looking for something different. Something that tapped into that creative ideal I had when I was 18-years-old. Along the way I was also reading Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and Seth Godin. Turns out the same people Chase Jarvis*, a Seattle-based photographer, has been reading. Jarvis is a piece of the puzzle of bridging the gap between the old traditional creative guard and a new way of doing things that is well on its way. This new thing, this wave of change, Jarvis calls “social art.”

What is social art? Jarvis says, “I can’t say exactly what it is, but I can tell you that it’s creating content and context. It’s interdisciplinary, it’s participatory, it’s interactive, and it’s symbiotic. Everybody can win. Most importantly I think social art is incomplete if there’s not another person on the end of the pipe in some way, shape or form participating in that art with you. “ (Have you ever written a screenplay that didn’t get produced? Yeah, me too. That’s a good example of an incomplete art.)

Social art could be a communal dinner where someone is sharing their art of cooking, while another is sharing a song, and others are showing photographs, paintings, and films. What a wonderful world, right?

And despite all of the negativity associated with the Internet there is an amazing amount of sharing of creative content. Dare I say communities connecting via Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and the like. Today people are connecting and freely sharing information with the same zeal that the old tradional guard tried to hide.

Last week Jarvis spoke in New York City at the Photo Plus Expo and said, “I’m asking you to put yourself at the center of a new art, a social art where you’re creating something and sharing it with those around you…Take more picture, be fearless, put yourself out there, shoot more films, build tools—the iPhone app is a great tool, and educate. At the end of the day what I’m talking about is the democratization of creativity.”

It’s an exciting time to be in the creative arts. I have a first hand view of young creative people (some with no traditional arts education) who are carving out niches taking pictures, producing music videos, making films, painting, creating animation, and designing graphics and websites. And they’re earning a living not even aware of the fading traditional way of doing things.

“This is the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a photographer…It’s the first time in the history of the world that content creators are also distributors. Anybody in this room, if you took a picture of me in the hallway you have— within five minutes—you can have a blog, a Facebook account, Twitter and be sharing your work. The content creators are the content distributors. And the best thing about this is we don’t have to ask anybody’s permission.

Until now everything previous to this you had to have permission if you wanted to show your work on any sort of scale. Sure you could show your work to your friends, you could walk around New York with a portfolio, walk into five ad agencies in a day, sure—that’s that scale. You needed permission from the gallerist, you needed permission from the magazine editor, the photo editor, you needed to get tapped, selected by the ad agency to be able to show your work on any sort of scale. Those days are over. Any person in here can share what they create, with scale, right now.”
Chase Jarvis
PDN PhotoPlusNewYork

This may not be the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a traditional screenwriter. But to be a screenwriter with a “social art” mindset it’s an incredible time. Imagine writing a script, doing an online reading, gathering a following, rasing money through a Kickstarter campaign, making your film, generating interest via your blog,  and distributing it via DVD sales on your website and iTunes rentals and sales. That is not the future, these are tools that are at your disposal right now.

Over the weekend we’ll look at how writer/director/actor Edward Burns is a great model for independent filmmakers. For his latest film,  Nice Guy Johnny, Edwards is both the creator and the distributor.

*Jarvis has a blog and you can follow him on Twitter @chasejarvis.

Scott W. Smith

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I think it’s going to turn into David S. Cohen week as I pull another quote from his book Screen Plays. This one from screenwriter David Franzoni. Before Franzoni won an Oscar for his role in producing Gladiator or worked with Spielberg on Amistad he was a struggling writer like everyone else. He grew up in Vermont and attended the University of Vermont where he studied geology and paleontology. 

By the time he turned his full attention to screenwriting he was in his early 20s. It would take him five years before he would break into the business with a script sale and another 10 years before he saw his first screen credit. By the time that film (Jumpin’ Jack Flash) was released Frazoni was 39 years old. The Oscar would take another 15 years. It’s a process. (For more on the process read the post on Malcolm Galdwell’s chapter The 10,000 Hour Rule from his book Outliers.)

“I remember the day I broke through. I had a meeting with Sissy Spacek and I came out and I’ve got a flat tire. And my spare’s flat. I’ve got twenty-six bucks. I take the spare and roll it down the street. For twelve bucks they patch it for me and I roll it back. I get home. I don’t have an agent. I have a girl at CAA who’s representing me on the side. I get home and there’s a message. ‘Sissy wants to hire you, and we sold the spec script.’ “
                                                       David Franzoni
                                                       Quoted in Screen Plays by David S. Cohen
                                                       page 21

Scott W. Smith

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been on my feet as much as I have in the last two days walking around NAB looking at a variety of production equipment. So I cherished those breaks where I was able to sit and listen to speakers. Yesterday I watched an interview with Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Outliers) who I have quoted on this blog before. And I also heard Tim Street a producer and social marketer. 

Street gave a sweeping overview of some success stories of online programs and webisodes which represent a new era of opportunities for screenwriters. Many of these shows have budgets above independent feature films and have viewers into the millions. Finding ways to monetize these ventures is still a guessing game for all involved, but I thought you’d be encouraged to know that there are people writing and producing online stories that are making money. 

According to Street Gemini Division represents the best of websiodes. It’s about an undercover NYPD vice cop based on an original story by Brent Friedman and created by  by Electric Farm Entertainment.  Each episode is five to seven minutes long and stars Rosario Dawson. I believe the budget for the first 50 programs they are producing is in the $1.75 million range. They have many deals in the works with sponsors. 

Like any TV program the key to success is to generate millions of viewers. No easy task, but one where screenwriting places a key roll because nothing hits an emotional cord like a good story. Millions of viewers opens the doors for marketing and licensing opportunities. Street talked about some of the deals where the producers sold the web rights but maintained the TV and DVD distribution rights. This is all new territory but is going to do nothing but grow. Newspapers are shrinking and traditional TV is unsure of the future of advertising dollars.  But the future looks bright for the Internet.

The great thing from a screenwriting perspective is can put you in the driver seat. Less dependent on agents and the system that can take years to bring your work to the screen– if at all.. Just think of the ideas that Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) could have produced online verses the three years he spent on writing and developing that Indiana Jones script that got scrapped.

This won’t be for everyone, but for those of you have creative friends (actors, directors, editors, camera people) this can give you an opportunity to pull your resources together and create some pilots that generate some opportunities for all of you. That’s what writer/actress Felicia Day did with her award winning online sitcom The Guild

This really is a brave new world for screenwriters out L.A. because potential partners are interested in you having one thing…a great idea with the potential for millions of viewers. So start working on a two or three minute pilot that could grow into a webisode series and see where it leads.

 

Scott W. Smith

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