The Creative Non-Linear Conversation

Creatives_share_Meal

Last night I got together with a group of artists that all share a similar heart for the arts. The combined creativity of the group was enough to solve world hunger, had it been a topic of discussion. But conversational subject matters with a team of imagination filled brains rarely settles on a single subject long enough to make any significant changes in the world.

That’s not to say the group was made up of people who flit from one topic to another without understanding. Our conversations actually got quite deep, emotionally stimulating and were inspirational. The time was well spent with heartfelt information that’ll bond even the most skeptical.

The goal of the evening was not to solve humanities issues, nor was it to develop a life-changing story that would be pumped through the media to capture the attention of those hungry for life fulfilling adventures. The time was just a gathering of like-minded artists that wanted to share a meal, relate to the awkwardness of creatives trying to fit into society, and encourage each other through emotional and spiritual support.

I once read that 1 in 1,000 people use their creativity and 1 in 10,000 people live a creative lifestyle. That means there are thousands of people who find the creative a bit on the odd side. They love the creations, but find it weird relating to the creative.

Most of this comes from societal “norms” about what life should look like. Some of it comes down to a person’s fear of what they don’t understand. I even find most people wanting to change the creative to fit into our society, rather than allowing him to create the next renaissance.

One of the little things I enjoyed about last night was how rapid the conversation moved from topic to topic in a non-linear fashion, all while keeping everyone invested and focused. No one got lost in the conversation.

Had there been a more linear thinker in the room, I’m confident they would’ve been lost more than once. Not because they wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the subject matter and the rapid changes of topic, but because they might not have understood how the vast variety of conversation points all related to the emerging theme that rose from the group.

While we all had differing vantage points, we were all in agreement with the overall theme. Our choices in how to move forward were different, but we all held to the same goal to encourage each other to work through the things holding us back. Our differences were celebrated and encouraged; yet we were unified in the theme that held the ideas to task.

Each one of us agreed to continue the good fight in producing art that will touch someone’s life with hope. We also agreed to support each other by helping them be the best them they can be within the arts.

Unfortunately, conversations like this should be on Friday nights so we have the weekend to recover from the figurative stimulus pumping through our veins. Monday morning came too quickly for those of us whose minds were running at full pace into the wee hours of the night.

But it was fun.

By the way, if you’ve never had a chance to spend a complete evening with a bunch of crazy artistic types, you should invite yourself to their next get together and witness something that few have ever seen. There’s always too much passion and a lot of weird moments, like when the heart stirring video we watched was accompanied by the host’s dog snoring. Certainly a dog snoring loudly during a touching scene is humorous, but the reaction of creatives is far more entertaining.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

Life from the Perspective of Peas and Peanuts

peasMy youngest daughter and I were laughing at dinner. It was hard to withhold side comments when her son attempted to stick a garlic shell noodle up his nose. My son-in-law thought the little guy’s behavior was a little illogical, because if his son really wanted something up his nose, the peas on his plate would make the attempt easier.

Contemplating any form of logic in that particular moment was worth a chuckle, so we all joined in with crazy banter, trying to one up each other on profound comments surrounding the logical choice of peas.

Soon a deep parallel was drawn to my daughter and son-in-law’s middle school youth group. This morning half of the class shared their contemplation of topics few adults are willing to address. I was amazed at their understanding and openness to discuss such controversial subjects.

The most artistic filmmakers, actors and artists I’ve met all held the same willingness to explore the depth of any topic related to the human condition. In fact, the better the artist, the more impact they made in society by addressing the difficult in the development of their works.

Charles M. Schultz is one artist that I’ve admired for years. The man demonstrated integrity in his art and consistently demonstrated how to salt in morals and ideal behaviors that the masses drank in ever so deeply.

The syndicated Peanuts comic strip was his crown and joy. He spent 50 years entertaining the world with difficult childhood emotions that impacted our society. Two weeks after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Shultz received a sincere letter from a Mrs. Harriet Glickman, who perfectly articulated the idea of adding a Negro child into the Peanuts strip. She was also astute enough to warn him of the possible ramifications.

Schulz LetterSchultz received thousands of letters every month and rarely heeded suggestions. He was a true artist with many ideas stock piled for future strips. However, he was so moved by Glickman’s suggestion that he responded to her with his concern. Schultz feared any attempt on his part might come across as patronizing and he had no good solution.

Glickman asked Schultz for permission to share his letter with a black male friend of hers by the name of Kenneth C. Kelly and had him write Schulz with two good reasons for including a Negro child in his Peanuts strip. Kelly was also articulate and suggested Schulz introduce the character as a supernumerary that could be developed later into a main character.

But Schultz wouldn’t have it that way. He had something specific in mind to do once his fear of patronizing blacks was defused. Schulz sent a letter off to Glickman announcing that on July 31, 1968 Peanuts would debut Franklin, Charlie Brown’s African American friend.

Unfortunately, Glickman was right about the backlash Schulz would receive, but he handled it well. Larry Rutman, president of United Feature Syndicate didn’t like a scene with Franklin playing with the other children and asked for a change.

Schulz gave the perfect response, “Well, Larry, let’s put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?”

Larry printed it and Peanuts went on to impact numerous societies worldwide.

It only takes one artist with perspective and integrity to change a culture.

Peanuts

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers

“Birdman” Oscar Wins Reveal Hollywood

birdmanBirdman took home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematographer. None of which were a surprise to me due to the current condition of the industry.

Hollywood was taken over by marketing and business years ago, which led to the increased production of sequels and hero films based on existing comic books. This movement generated large box office dollars due to the economy and Americas’ need for hope to survive. Unfortunately, it was at the cost of creativity.

The industry is filled with creatives who are desperate for something new and unique. They want to take artistic chances and explore their craft, but always fall short by being put on films that regurgitate the same stories over and over again.

How many times can they reboot Spiderman? Sony is working out the kinks on the third version with yet another actor at the helm.

Only 15% of the top 20 films last year were original movies. The rest were either sequels, adapted from books or superhero stories. For a group of creatives that thrive on making their own stories, three films out of the top 20 is a far cry from what would satisfy an artist.

I can’t imagine what it would be like for a painter to spend the majority of his day painting ad campaigns and only 15% of his time expressing his feelings on canvas. Nor can I picture a writer penning marketing copy for most of the day and only write a handful of words to fulfill his need to express himself within a novel.

But, some how people in the movie industry have become slaves to the business and marketing teams who have no need to express anything creative.

It’s no wonder that the past three years the top Oscars have gone to stories about the industry and the pains or the forced draught of the artists themselves. Birdman speaks volumes about the desperation for a story that is new, creative and risky. It’s a revelatory film of artists’ desperation in the new Hollywood.

Film is not about money. It’s about story and artistic exploration. Yes, some have turned it into a moneymaking factory, while others have forced it to be about political messages, but in reality it’s just another art form of heartfelt expression.

This awkward set of circumstances is what drove the majority of filmmakers to create independent films rather than studio films. It’s also what is driving filmmakers to macro studios and away from Hollywood. Even the best writers are leaving film studios for independent television projects that will be released in non-standard venues.

Today, if you want a great star to be in your movie, all you have to do is come up with a risky story that’s never been done before. If it has a character that has great depth and unique qualities, you’ll be able to get any true artistic actor to sign on. After all, Hollywood is bored and desperate for something new to explore.