Think outside the box, whilst inside the box (studio):
As this studio is about working with constraints, I thought i’d google ‘constraints in filmmaking’ and see what comes up. One of the first links was to a journal article by Heidi Philipsen entitled ‘Constraints in Film Making Processes Offer an Exercise to the Imagination’. Interestingly enough the first sentence of her article states: “I would like filmmakers interested in thinking “outside the box” to recognize that they can benefit from being placed “inside a box.” I wonder if Paul had contemplated this whilst choosing the name for this studio.
Throughout her article Philipsen challenges the notion that creativity is an intangible innate quality, existing within the mind of one source, but rather creativity arises from a multitude of sources. Alike all things shared she suggests that creativity is easier to enhance by changing environmental conditions, rather than encouraging people to ‘think more creatively’. Perceiving creativity in this way allows you to see it as an organisationally influenced phenomenon, rather than a psychological and individual phenomenon. Which enables you to have more control over creativity and to encourage creativity once being aware of how it can be environmentally enhanced. As Csikzentmihalyi (1996) states “a genuinely creative accomplishment is almost never the result of a sudden insight, a lightbulb flashing on in the dark, but comes after years of hard work”.
Constraints, as Philipsen suggests is one such way to manipulate the environment to enhance creativity. Students who attended The Film School in Denmark, who were forced into working with constraints for their projects eventually considered constraints to be both useful and inspirational. Such constraints included: making a scene with a specific theme, within a specific deadline and with other specific conditions concerning the use of camera, sound, actors etc. Students stated that these constraints ultimately made them feel secure, inspired and focused and encouraged them to become more experimental as each student wanted to make their own ‘personal film’ and not the same kind of film as each of the other students. As many students stated it would have been much more difficult to make a film WITHOUT constraints than with. For it would have increased both the overwhelming options and the associated anxiety.
I for one, would have to agree. Within my second homework task one of the constraints was ‘no camera movement’. This singular constraint meant I could spend a lot more time thinking about shot construction, rather than whether I would move the camera, and if so how and why it would be done. Ultimately I ended up experimenting more with where to place the camera, e.g. placing the camera on a bed and billowing a sheet over it, or placing the camera under a pillow and have it witness the pillow land directly on it. These kind of shots allow the audience to feel physically close to the actions they are witnessing, and to feel as if they are experiencing it first hand.
Until next time,
Louise Alice Wilson