Movies Bring Hope and Direction to Society

Behind the Scenes with CJ PowersSince the Great Depression (1929-1939) the motion picture industry understood their lot in life was to bring hope and direction to society and dove into mass production. This was confirmed and continued during World War II (1939-1945). Even the post war rebuilding years (1946-1952) were palatable thanks to the movies, which only cost a few coins to attend. By the time our country was back on its feet in 1963-64, the cinema’s role in America was labeled the Golden Age of movies (1933-1963, some sources use 1927-1964).

The Hays Motion Picture code was enacted during these early years to make sure films for the general public were appropriate, respectful and encouraging. After all, hope and direction were important causes worth monitoring. But by 1964 the committee that managed the code and approved scripts that made it to the silver screen was pressured by its denominational headquarters to leave the “ungodly world of Hollywood.”

While some films continued to bring hope and a wholesome and unifying direction to Americans, other films brought the opposite. Freedom of speech was challenged beyond what was wholesome. Directional bias toward liberal and aggressive thinking rose in power. The movies moved into a period known as post-classical cinema followed by the angst and spectacle periods.

Today, America is in need of a new hope and a new wholesome direction. It’s the movie industry’s job to provide it, as it did during the Golden Age of cinema. Unfortunately most producers today are looking for message films to support their politics or their religion. Few care about making the types of films that will bring hope and a healthy perspective to the general public.

The more polarized our communities become, the more important it is for the movies to help bring a sense of unity back to the people. But who will heed the call?

Until artists of today find a way to bring unity back into the lives of our beloved characters, stories will continue to divide the population. It’s the duty of filmmakers to reach the general population with new ideas and unifying stories that can emotionally move the audience from our old destructive path to a new thesis world filled with hope.

There is a hungry world waiting anxiously for such films. They long to embrace them, but can’t find any in our noise filled market. Someone must step up and kickoff this new trend that is sure to be supported by people from various walks of life. Where is the first filmmaker ready to take the risk and cross over? When he or she steps forward, will you support that new breed of film? If so, you’ll be a part of bringing a new hope and direction to our society.

© 2017 by CJ Powers
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Controlling Kills Creativity

Control Kills CreativityWhen I was the lead carpenter for the Before Broadway Players, my director asked me to create a special effects box that looked high tech and gave the audience the sense that it was beyond this world. Having been empowered, I quickly put everything I had into the tech and the final stage prop created a great publicity buzz.

I was only able to use my ingenuity because I had a director who understood that controlling his team’s decisions would kill their creativity and force the audience to pretend the box was more than just junk parts glued in place.

There’s a fine balance between setting vision or giving a project direction, and controlling everyone involved. The latter tends to dilute creativity and drives creative types to withdraw their best efforts and replace it with something mundane.

It’s true that at certain key moments control is necessary to get things on track with market needs, but continuous control robs the team of unique successes and slaughters their inspiration for innovation in the arts. Put simply: long-term control kills the art form.

So why is it that new directors tend to control the actors and crew, rather than collaborate with them?

It might be due to insecurity. Or, maybe watching previous works demolished by the wrong choice in team or talent selection. In any case, I believe all directors can find a balance between control and collaboration by practicing three important steps.

EVALUATE YOUR ACTIONS. Most controlling leaders are not aware of their grasp on people. They make decisions based on their goal, not the person they work with. This causes them to stifle innovation from those around them, which is detrimental in all of the arts, but especially motion pictures.

To break free of control issues a director can ask himself several questions:

A. Are my ideas always the best?
B. Have my cast and crew stopped contributing?
C. Do people constantly ask questions for approval, rather than risk their creativity?
D. Have all of my projects gone flat and are no longer interesting?

If any of the answers above are yes, then the director must practice letting go.

PRACTICE LETTING GO. The word practice is critical in revealing the ongoing process for the controller. No one can throw a one time switch and suddenly turn everything into a great collaboration. It takes single daily steps to accomplish the change. There are a handful of questions a director can ask himself to move forward in letting go:

A. What responsibility can I delegate?
B. How can I measure the delegate’s success without taking over?
C. What new responsibility can I use to fill my time?
D. What new behaviors can I develop to keep my hands off the delegate’s details?

By letting go of the minutia and filling time with more important focuses, the director can empower his team to put their soul into the project.

LEARN TO EMPOWER. The best way to empower someone isn’t by understanding their ability to perform a task, but rather understand their behaviors and how they make choices. It’s the choices that determine if the individual will follow the vision or head off in a different direction.

A director, who spends a lot of time understanding people and how characters develop, can plan how behaviors can be triggered. To move in this direction, the director can ask himself the following questions to prepare:

A. What behaviors are needed to accomplish the responsibility?
B. What choices must be present to give comfort when I let go?
C. How can these behaviors be inspired or given to the person?
D. What support is required to empower the person?

Empowered individuals always out perform controlled people. Yet, it takes hard work on the director’s part to empower the people, while maintaining his vision.

Some new directors who get past the control factor shift to the opposite extreme with a mishmash of unclear activities. Empowering people does not stop the director from painting a vision and directing everyone towards it, as there is a great difference between getting buried in the minutia and inspiring everyone’s behaviors to reach the goal.

Whether you’re a film director or a manager, what do you do to empower your people?

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers