Filmmaking 101 – Counterintuitive Ways to Spark Creativity

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Filmmaking 101 – Counterintuitive Ways to Spark Creativity

It is the art of managing your whole experience of life that allows for creativity to live and breath.

Filmmaking can be all-encompassing. We all know how easy it is to get swept up in a busy day, to be so determined to succeed that you put all your juice into your creative work 24/7 without ever giving yourself time to rebound. But there is great advantage to taking breaks. It can be very healthy and effective to shift gears now and again. There are so many factors that go into the inception of a sweet idea. Of course, discipline and persistence are crucial to maintain for good work to keep showing up. But it is the art of managing your whole experience of life that really allows for creativity to live and breath with freshness and inspiration in a sustainable way. Here are 5 ideas that you can experiment with to help mix up your routine and improve your creative process for the better.

1. Spontaneity

Perhaps the most important quality of a creative person is their ability to be spontaneous with an idea. To follow an instinct. To have a counter-intuitive flash. These insights often present the key that cracks the code of a conundrum, especially in a medium like filmmaking. The very expression “think outside the box” refers to working in new and fresh ways. For a creative person, it is super helpful to live in this way as well. It is a great way to balance the habits of discipline and routine, which really create the backbone of a creative way of living. So experiment with being spontaneous now and again. Take an impromptu trip to the beach. Take a weekend trip last minute to a town you would never consider going to. Go to dinner with a friend on a whim. Spontaneous opportunities can expand your perspective. If you get anxiety and like to control situations and people, which is an obsessive quality that many creative people can have, bringing the spontaneous into your life can be a really good move.


“Balance the habits of discipline and routine, which really create the backbone of a creative way of living.”


2. Diet

It is so important to give your body a chance to rest between digestion. It can be really easy to just eat all the time, especially if you have discovered a new snack at craft services that really gets you stoked. The schedule of filmmaking doesn’t typically align with your body’s natural clock, but healthy eating habits can go a long way towards offsetting this. The body is always working to keep itself going and it has two main modes —digestion and cleaning. If you are always eating from the moment you wake up to the moment you crash in your bed at night, your digestive system is always cranking away at converting food into energy and nutrition. This means that your blood is also constantly carrying excess toxins as a by-product of this ongoing process, and ends up making your mind much foggier than it needs to be. By allowing some time in the morning before you start eating, or by having your final meal a little bit earlier in the evening, it gives your body a chance to switch to cleaning mode while you sleep and as you wake, which your body loves to do. This will give you more clarity in the way you think and feel. It will also improve your mental agility. To counteract the psychological toll of working as hard as you do, practice noticing how the food you eat makes you feel. Consider compressing the window of time that you actually eat to allow your body to do what it naturally wants to do and get clean.

3. Hobbies

Consider taking up a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with filmmaking. Something totally out of left field like ping pong or a slack-lining. Maybe start making your own granola or learn a sign language. By introducing a new activity into your life, it will give your mind and body a challenge. It allows your brain to get smarter. People who say “I don’t like to do things that I am not good at” are ridiculous. By keeping yourself limited and only sticking with what you know, you keep yourself from becoming a more experienced human. It can also starve your imagination by only doing what you know. By taking up new hobbies, it totally expands your world and your enthusiasm for living. Best of all, you can get better at the act of learning itself by taking up new hobbies, which is one of the most relevant skill sets that exist today. Tim Ferris is really good at teaching you to learn how to learn. Check him out.

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4. Sit and Do Nothing

This is one of my personal favorites. Learn how to sit back and do absolutely nothing. I don’t mean kick back and turn on the tube. I mean just lie on the couch or sit in a chair and chill the **** out. Try it for five or ten minutes now and then. Just let your mind wander. Time is our most valuable asset. By learning to sit with it now and then, you can get to know it better. Time is a medium itself. We work and live and breath in it all the time. We play baseball in it and make love in it. We are always in it. Creative people especially have a unique relationship to time because they often use it differently than people who live more automatically. That it should be used wisely and efficiently much of the time goes without saying, but it is also incredibly powerful simply enjoyed. If you have lost the ability to do nothing, it probably means that there is a great deal of value waiting for you in doing nothing now and then. Activity is balanced by rest. Give your creative work a leg up and let yourself do nothing now and again. It will bring space into your creative thinking and enhance all aspects of your filmmaking.


“Time is our most valuable asset. By learning to sit with it now and then, you can get to know it better. Time is a medium itself. We work and live and breath in it all the time.”


5. Walk Au Naturel Now and Again

Beyond simply walking around your kitchen naked, now and again try going for a walk without your headphones on. If you are in the habit of always listening to audio, see what it is like to simply walk somewhere as you are. If you love listening to stuff, you are a top candidate for learning to enjoy the sounds of a city or nature as you walk from time to time. Experiment with making listening active. Hear how a car moves through space or how the voices of people talking in a café play on your eardrums. That is if you don’t have chronic tinnitus from all the concerts and headphone time anyways. A walk au naturel may just create the headspace you need for the next great filmmaking idea to arrive. By experimenting with different combinations of these ideas, you will find new relationships to your own creativity and it is highly probable that it will make you a more dynamic creator.

For more filmmaking inspiration, check out our articles on Location Scouting 101 and Music Licensing in Film.