When you find that one thing that inspires you and pushes you forward, that is also when you will be putting yourself on a journey of progress, in discovering your strengths and potential -in this case, as a filmmaker and creative individual. One thing that got me wondering throughout this learning process is how one can come to truly and strongly believe in their own idea. Why I say this is because there is a huge difference in pitching an idea you conjured out of the mere need to, and pitching an idea you have a heart for. I want to explore this thought as it was a hurdle I went through, and I also want to discuss the process of how this story came to be.
I came to notice this as I was pitching different ideas to my lecturer, James. My group mates were away for the week and I knew we had to come up with something. I found that the more I tried to concoct a story, the more complicated it became. So I began to carefully reflect back on the first idea, which involved telling the story of a painter’s life – how she was a prisoner of her mind, and how she countered near-death experiences through art. Wheeler-Smith (2014) states that ‘an individual’s sense of self and identity may also be connected to his/her ideas, thus promoting feelings of psychological ownership and possessive attachment’. Her statement resonates with me, as I found that the ideas I kept coming up with after that never strayed far from the original one. One of the reasons could be the fact that as an art enthusiast myself, I often find comfort in drawing when I have to cope with difficult times, and I wanted the painter in this story to illustrate that. The problem was, as much as I enjoyed the elements in this idea, I had to come up with something better; something simpler.
Throughout the weeks, I found myself struggling to explain our (rather complex) story, not just to my lecturer, but also to some of my classmates. No matter what sort of ideas I found myself coming up with, it just didn’t quite click. ‘The productivity of language can just as easily lead to confusion and ignorance as to enlightenment and progress’ (Stratton 1999). This proved evident in my futile attempts. Drawing from that statement, I decided that I had to narrow it down and pick a few themes and elements that stood out most to me – strength, faith, death, woman… just to name a few. As I critically thought about those few things, a vision of a short film slowly began to form in my mind.
I realised that I had to delve deeper into the reason behind why I do what I do. One thing that Harris (2014) mentioned is this: ‘Creativity is not just found in the process of ideation (idea generation); it is found in the process of defining criteria for choosing the idea that moves forward’. He also wrote about how this process aids companies’ attempts to define their value system and also what they deem most significant. As I read that, it got me thinking about how creativity isn’t just about coming up with a good or feasible idea – it is about having an idea that resonates with you (and your team); one that you can be proud of because it tells people who you are and what you believe is important.
I wanted the focus to be on the idea of death, which is also relevant to the prompt my group was given, so I started thinking about how I could push this story forward. So just as how, be it in art or photography, the idea of having contrasting elements is encouraged, I decided I wanted to do the same with this short film. Extending from an idea mentioned by Elder (2008) in his book, this sort of separation is necessary but ‘recognising affinities among things is [also] required to place the perceived object in a context’. Having that said, this ‘principle of unity-in-difference (Kontrast-Anologie)’ led me to think about how it would be relevant to come up with something cohesive that revolved around the topic of death, yet something that could conquer the preconceived fatalities of it.
Death is something people often dread – it is not a topic very much celebrated. To have strength and joy in the face of something this serious is what I believe children could have, simply for the fact that their innocence and carefree personality is their driving force. It is said that children who are fearless tend to ‘develop stronger internalisation’ when they are very close to their mothers and when their mothers are responsive to them (Damon, Lerner & Eisenberg 2006). So for this short film, I wanted to portray the confidence of a little girl and her loving mother, unwavering even in the face of death. The story revolves around this little girl who faces a medical condition and her companion, who is Death in the form of a little boy. I chose to use children to contrast the severity of sickness and death, to the carefree nature of the young.
To add to the essence of joy radiated by the children in this short film, I felt like using warm and bright tones would be our best bet. After all, what better way to overthrow death but to have a positive outlook? We will be experimenting with a lot of high-key lighting and controlling the warmth of our shots through colour grading. This sort of lighting often illustrates feelings of warmth, cheerfulness, expansiveness and energy (Stinson 2004), and that is exactly what we aim to have with the children in our film.
Upon having these plans laid out for our short film, it was then that I knew I had an idea I really wanted to pursue. It took a while to get to that point, but the journey I took on coming to this point was a defining one for me. As we spoke a little more as a group, we began to take on the idea of this girl having Death as some sort of imaginary friend; a metaphorical reminder that all things come to an end. In an article in The Straits Times (2012), Ng states that imaginary friends help children cope with life changes. Moreover, her youth and innocence allows her to see this entity as a life form, as compared to her mother who – at her age is already bruised by age and worldly troubles – cannot.
As we continue to think about how we might develop our short film, one thing I hope we will be able to put our focus on is the meanings behind the elements of our story. It would be interesting to create a short film that is also an artistic piece, with hidden metaphors that convey a message to our viewers. In efforts to do so, one thing I will personally be doing is some research on topics like children, death, and imaginary friends. I believe it would be an interesting blend. I also intend to watch a couple of films to gain better ideas and more inspiration from other passionate filmmakers. Our intention is to create a film that expresses our own creative direction and we will continue to work towards delivering that.
Damon, W, Lerner, RM & Eisenberg, N 2006, Handbook of Child Psychology, 6th ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey, pp. 326-327.
Elder, B 2008, Harmony and Dissent, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Canada, pp. 132-135.
Harris, LVA 2014, Idea Engineering: Creative Thinking and Innovation, Momentum Press, New York, pp. 122-124.
Stinson, J 2004, ‘Light Source: Lighting for Mood’, Videomaker.com, viewed 3 April 2016, <http://www.videomaker.com/article/c13/10216-light-source-lighting-for-mood>.
Stratton, J 1999, Critical Thinking for College Students, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., USA, pp. 61-62.
The Straits Times 2012, Imaginary friends help a child cope with changes, viewed 4 April 2016, <http://search.proquest.com/docview/1035032257?accountid=13552>.
Wheeler-Smith, SL 2014, ‘Ideas as the Territory of the Self’, Graduate School of Business Administration, viewed 2 April 2016, <http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/docview/1643185143/>.