the brashness of creativity
Back in the fifth grade or so, my friends and I were completely obsessed with creating, writing, filming and directing our own films.
For a few years in the neighborhoods of Cincinnati, OH, making films was part of our daily routine. Actually, it was our only routine, as our school nights and summers were filled with nothing but creativity and an irreverence for rules and authority. Armed with a VHS camcorder and some flimsy scripts and story lines, our crew was set out to make the next big Hollywood hit.
It all began with Attack of the Killer Turtles, heralded as one of the “Top 10 movies of the 21st Century” on www.rogerebert.com. It’s somewhere on there, I’m sure you’re just not looking hard enough.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Attack of the Killer Turtles, that’s right.
Let’s break down the basic premise from memory: A nice, quiet town suddenly faces the perils and danger of massive, giant and murderous killer turtles.
Currently, my friend’s mom is searching the archives for footage of this film, so that we can convert it to DVD, upload it to our computers, and save it for the rest of our days. Aside from Attack, we created films like Secret Agent 2001, The Blair Johnny Project, Scream 4, and countless others that were never completed or didn’t seem to meet criteria for the Hollywood scene. Strange.
During this time period, life was pretty easy. Our neighborhood crew rode our bikes everywhere, played and filmed in the woods for countless hours, created our own games in the driveway, and lived a life without social media. Did we have video games and all of that good stuff? Heck yes we did. But, even more so than life in my adult life, we seemed to have a great balance on everything.
Why? For starters, we didn’t have full-time jobs. So, that balance makes a little more sense looking back, but deep down, I know it was more than that.
First, we had no fear. Why should we? Our films were created for us, with no time constraints, budgets, politics, bullshit or anything that got in the way of creativity and living the life of our dreams. In our brains, we were all Hollywood directors, actors, producers, writers, creatives — and who’s to say that we weren’t? With a wide range of both actresses and actors, we were doing it right and having the time of our lives. Remember this speech?
This speech was actually about Attack of the Killer Turtles. Now you know.
Then, something changed. We all started to grow up and similar to the themes of Peter Pan and Steven Spielberg’s Hook, we began to forget who we truly were.
From discovering that girls were pretty cool, to basketball tryouts, the trials and tribulations of middle school, and a little thing called puberty, life had changed.
Looking back, I didn’t realize it at the time. Who does? Life comes at you just like a film, yet it’s unscripted. Shit happens. People change. And, like the great Tupac Shakur said, “Life goes on.” As time progressed and I made my way through college and into the working world, I began to truly realize what had been missing all along. Can you guess what it was?
I had completely lost touch with my creativity.
It took me years to realize this. Too many, really. I had begun to look at the creative as something that needed a future or ending point. Where would this particularly creative activity take me? Would it make me money? Why do something creative when I can sit around and waste time, man? These questions went on for several years, until I had a spiritual awakening for my purpose in this world, and what I had been missing out on for so long.
The creative made me who I am today. Those films we made? They were the stepping stones into my writings, videos, my personal/professional website, music blog, my obsession with film analysis and shot breakdowns, Film School Rejects (www.filmschoolrejects.com), and so much more. I don’t just watch movies anymore — I absolutely devour them. I need them to survive. I write because I need to. I take photos because I need to. I make videos because I need to. The creative helps fulfill my daily purpose here and connects me to a higher purpose.
I’m not quite sure who/what/why/or where that higher purpose is, but I know that I never really felt it during my years spent avoiding the creative and trying to live a life that wasn’t my own. Heck, maybe this happens to everyone. Aren’t we all the most creative when we’re young? We paint our canvas for our own little worlds to see, without the fears of scrutiny, backlash, resentment or all of the other evil feelings that seem to come out of you once you turn into an ‘adult.’ As a kid, creativity is vibrant and magical. As an non-practicing (?) adult, creativity is brash. It is non-existent. It is difficult to comprehend its meaning or how it makes you feel.
So, in writing this, my hopes are for you to take some time to rediscover that magic you have inside you. Remember that elation you felt when watching Disney movies and pretending you were Aladdin? I do. Or, how about playing in the woods and pretending you were an ancient explorer or anyone you wanted to be? Remembering that imagination is essential and I hope some of you take some time to think back on it. Go pick up that blank sheet of paper and start drawing again, write about your day, take a photo of a beautiful sunset, start writing a script to a movie you’d love to see — whatever it is, just do it.
The creative is waiting for you. Are you ready to re-introduce yourself?