My strategy of choice when making new work is to gather materials and burn through as quickly as possible to get the piece done. That includes photo shoots, video art pieces, sculptures, music tracks, you name it. Experience has taught me that everything you create is as much a run-through for the next, better thing as it is a uniquely crafted piece unto itself.
Keeping a fast pace on the creativity also keeps it fresh. I’ve had some recent experiences where I gathered the materials- in this case, shot video- then had some delays and hiccups, and before you know it, two months had passed and I hadn’t finished the piece. Today I scrapped two months of on-and-off again editing to start fresh, and the “few-hours-old” video edit is coming together nicely. It’ll probably get finished this weekend.
I bring this up because Time and Money are the main obstacles artists present as reasons why things don’t get done, stay dreams. A recent Telegraph article investigated why the creators of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow didn’t make any other movies. Basically, an inflated budget imposed by the studio also inflated expectations of how their film would perform, and they ended up being on the hook when it didn’t recover the budget.
The demo trailer that the creators, Kerry and Kevin Conran, put together took them 6 years. They got a shot at a film with a screwy budget and that was the end.
In 2015, it wouldn’t take 6 years to assemble a neat demo trailer for something along the lines of Sky Captain- perhaps a few months or even a few hard weeks. FX work can be outsourced to cheaper countries or freelancers, and once the studio apparatus has been built- a studio with green screens, computers with the right software, costumes kept, cameras and lenses bought- the work is easier and faster.
This is a case where people had a lot of time and a lot of money (and I do love Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) but it wasn’t sustainable. We can’t expect to sculpt a masterpiece or two and expect the world to sustain our career based on that. Especially if that masterpiece isn’t a “hit.” We should be prolific and quick- producing a lot, quickly, and advancing our skills as much as we can as fast as we can. Challenging ourselves to make the next thing better than the last. That is how careers are made.
Which brings us to why I have Red Letter Media’s “Space Cop” trailer attached to this blog entry. The RLM guys have made a few movies that are easily defined as entertaining schlock- and they are authorities on the process, as their youtube channel is chockfull of b-movie reviews and examples of DIY fx work. The key word is “entertaining.” I can guarantee I’ll find “Space Cop” more entertaining than Avengers: Age of Ultron, or any other star-studded, inflated budget-ed mainstream film. The creativity of RLM outpaces the constraints of budget and time, and creativity is an unlimited resource.