The following is a guest post from Kevin O’Brien about the creative process behind Light Shines, Journey Box Media’s newest mini-movie for Easter. I know you’re busy prepping for Easter, but this may be just the thing you need to get you through the next week and a half sprint…
This post is about the creative process (or blocks) in the development of Light Shines. You may want to watch it first:
I started thinking, reading and brainstorming about Easter back in the first week of January, which I was quite proud of. I was ahead of schedule, and had plenty of time to develop a story and create a mini-movie.
Then toward the end of February, I looked up and realized I was no longer ahead of schedule. In fact, I was behind… and I didn’t have a plan. This was not good.
As the Arts Director of my local church for almost a decade, this has been a common situation for me. Behind schedule, empty on ideas, stuck and frustrated. Maybe you can relate? Church production teams have the privilege and responsibility of sharing the greatest story in history. We also feel the pressure of creating something new every week. As Gary Molander points out in his amazing book Pursuing Christ, Creating Art, if we aren’t looking to Christ as our source of creativity, our creativity will run dry rather quickly.
Light Shines gave us a different process from most of our mini-movies. Usually, we develop the story, and I’ll be thinking of the visuals before or while the script is being written. For Light Shines, my partner wrote the script – which was super powerful – but I didn’t have a solid idea on what visuals to use to support the script.
So we sat down for a few meetings, and came up with some ideas – some outside of our ability (time and budget), and some that were just okay. We had a lot of “good” ideas, but nothing I was excited about. That was a problem. Time was running out, and after all, this is the story of Easter, the resurrection of our Savior. I couldn’t settle for “okay.”
I was so frustrated and stuck. So stuck that I even considered going the easy route with cliché Easter visuals (which I consider “safe,” and am adamant against). Thankfully, I wasn’t ready to give up.
A few months back I started reading Blain Hogan’s Untitled which talks about the creative process as hard work. He points out that there is no magic trick to getting “unstuck.” You just have to keep working, keep trying, keep searching.
So we did. We kept thinking, bringing ideas, killing ideas, borrowing ideas from our favorite 80’s movies (we almost completely ripped off The NeverEnding Story), till finally we had a break-through. We agreed on the visuals and the story and we were stoked, except that now we were ridiculously behind schedule.
So we scheduled, built, cast, shot, edited and released Light Shines in 8 days. It was an intense week of sweat, frustration, long nights, and lots of favors from friends. We were blessed with an amazing warehouse space to shoot in, and in the end we were thrilled with the result.
I will leave you with an encouraging tweet I read a few years back from Trey Hill (@squarerootof9). I try to remind myself of this weekly.
There are a lot of freaking talented people in this world… so I guess you’re going to have to rely on something else.
What are you relying on? You don’t have to do this alone.
Some photos from production:
The great warehouse space we were given to use (for free!)
The overhead shots were some of my favorite. (That’s me way up there)
We had some great friends and their kids shooting late into the night.
DIY equipment is the best.
A rented motorized slider gave us a sweet time-lapse shot.