The Social Network and The Promise

I recently saw The Social Network and found it is an excellent example-among other benefits- of the way creative ideas develop. Faux Zuckerberg is shown as getting inspiration anywhere. Sitting in a pub, talking to friends, discussing seemingly incongruous ideas. All of a sudden, he sprints to his dorm room, types a short piece of code and “Thefacebook” is finished.

And then the lawyers get involved.

Faux Z is sued. Everyone he’s ever talked to is seeking a piece of the pie. The film is a morality tale on the art of creative collaboration and, surprisingly in this era of crowdsourcing and, well, Facebook, a warning about the sharing of ideas. The true loss is the vilification of creative collaboration.

In contrast, I also recently watched The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. Because the lawyers got involved again, Springsteen was restricted from releasing an album for three years after his smash hit, Born to Run. This in the days when recording artists released two albums a year. As a result, he spent the time in the studio recording 70 songs for the 10 that where eventually released on the album.

The documentary shows these recording sessions and demonstrates how Springsteen works out his ideas with his band. Everyone contributes and produces the song. Springsteen is unquestionably the author but uses collaboration to involve those around him to evolve his sound. A more positive morality tale.

What’s this got to do with storyboarding.

I recently was “released” from a project, by mutual consent I hasten to add. My end was a mess. I couldn’t get what they wanted, how fast they wanted it and how much control they required. The client was very specific to the extent they called out head positions and how big the smiles on the characters faces. That would be like Springsteen constantly sitting at the piano to show Roy Bittan the cords or Clarence how to blow the sax. Not the way to make a song or an animated television show. It diminishes the creative contribution of collaborators and causes the work to be done without pride of craftsmanship.

Here’s an example: the client demanded an expensive piece of software be installed that allowed thumbnails and ideas to be drawn digitally on the script over the internet. So expensive that only one license could be supported by the production budget, so everybody had to come in and gather in a specific boardroom. The kicker-maybe the Kick is in this is all an Inception dream-only the client side could draw. Our end was disabled.

I recognize that the creator or author of the work has primary control. But, especially today, creative collaboration has to involve all the voices. Whether it is because the storyboard software allows everybody to get involved at a granular level-my theory- or because the client is just micro-managing, bug-ugly crazy, some projects are a struggle to get done and are best left to those who have the stomach to be constantly kicked.

To create a group project, like a piece of software, a song or an animated project, everybody’s got to matter. There has to be someone driving (Faux Z, Springsteen or my ex-client) but they have to listen to and acknowledge other voices can contribute to get the best product. Inspiration comes from everywhere as these films demonstrate and, as long as the lawyers don’t get involved, everybody should have a good time on the journey of creating.

More later…

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