Posted by: Liz Massey | March 20, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for March 20, 2009


Photo courtesy SXC.

“Truth as Casualty”: This is Getting Old
A powerful post from the Still in Motion blog. Documentarian Pamela Cohn weighs in on the powerful “Burma VJ,” a stunning new film about the 2007 pro-democracy uprising in Burma by Anders Østergaard. She is reacting to a review by Andrew Marshall’s review of the film that sharply questions Østergaard’s use of re-constructive elements to tell the (non-fiction) story.

Given the life-threatening risks the pro-democracy protesters were taking, she notes, it was only natural that Østergaard would want to protect those on the ground, many of whom were surreptitiously filming the protests on their video cameras.

“The protection of these people (the protesters) is utmost on (Østergaard’s) agenda and he spent a very, very long time trying to figure out how to tell this story and still protect them.  …  In his research, he used Google Earth to help construct the hundreds and hundreds of hours of unmarked, unidentified footage he had to sift through to simulate an accurate time line of this communication.  Once he started to put that time line together, he says the film began “to speak” about the collective experience of what it must have looked and felt and sounded like.  The soundtrack by Swedish composer, Conny C-A Malmqvist and sound design by Martin Hennel also help to establish a ‘here and now’ immediacy …

“Through this rigorous process, the director has crafted a piece of cinema that transcends beyond this particular story, and speaks to the universal aspects of revolution from within.  To my mind, the film is flawless in its execution.”

She angrily rebukes Marshall for being “stuck on the d-word and the inherent ‘purity’ of what he feels documentary should present.”

“He wants to call it a ‘docudrama’ which is a term I, personally, loathe since it smacks of those god-awful stilted recreations that I see all the time in stories of the “Wild West,” or what have you … Marshall feels that these dramatic reconstructions in ‘Burma VJ’ are a ‘handicap, undermining the film’s credibility and dishonoring the very profession its subjects risk their lives to pursue.’ This kind of statement makes me froth at the mouth, seriously.”

Cohn’s observations about the film are worth reading in their entirety. And now I’ve got to find a way to see the film! Here’s the trailer:

World Depression II: Great Time to Become an Artist — Bad Time to Be a Dealer?

Karl Zipser, posting on the multi-author blog Art & Perception, puts a new spin (and a new worry) related to making art in the “Great Recession.”

“Every artist has a relationship with at least one dealer — even if it is only a one-sided voyeuristic relationship. So it is relevant to ask: Are they all going to go bust? And if so, what happens to us? Do we need the dealers, or is the Fall of the Art World (as we know it) the best thing that could possibly happen?”

Karl reminds readers that making art free of the whims of the market can definitely lead to a personal artistic renaissance, even if it isn’t a financial windfall period. The comments that follow his post run the gamut from hopeful to wistful—but probably represent a fair cross-section of artist thought about creating work when the demand is low.

Four Reasons Why Fear is A Creative’s Friend

Coach and multipreneur Cath Duncan guest posted this incisive piece on the LifeDev blog recently. She notes that fear has at least four positive roles in the life of a creative person (or just about anyone else):

  • Fear alerts us to threats.
  • Fear lets us know we are still learning (facing unfamiliar situations).
  • Fear lets us know what’s important to us.
  • Fear holds creative tension.

That last assertion has echoes of Robert Fritz’s use of the term “creative tension,” so that got my attention, as I’m a big fan of Fritz’s book “The Path of Least Resistance.” Here’s what Cath has to say about why fear can help you create what you want:

“When there’s an unresolved problem or a gap between where we are and where we want to be, a tension develops. … Successful creatives embrace this tension, knowing that tension is an important part of the creative process.

“Creative tension motivates our unconscious mind to continue searching for a resolution, even while we go on with our other tasks or go to sleep at night, those epiphanies that you have, where the idea just seems to have popped into your head out of nowhere.”

The important point she makes is not to build up “meta-levels” of fear, that is, fear about feeling fearful. Her post is a great reminder that so-called “negative” emotions like fear can be powerful barometers if we let them. They may not make a great compass, but they can give you a sense of the metaphorical weather around you.

Bonus Links!

My Million Dollar Movie
Site that seeks to make the first big-budget publicly financed film. For $10 you can be a producer!

Sleep On It
From R. Keith Sawyer’s Creativity & Innovation blog. Scientific proof that creative insights can improve after a good night’s sleep.


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