Post from May, 2019

Editing: A Completely Different Skill Set

Monday, 27. May 2019 0:34

There have been a number of posts in this blog on creativity. This is one more—well sort of. This is about the step after creativity. No matter what art we are engaged in, sooner or later we have to edit. And that’s a completely different skillset from the set that we used to create the artifact in the first place. There have previous posts about editing: one discusses the benefits of editing, another discusses the necessity for editing, and a third discusses the difficulty of editing.

To edit is “to alter, adapt or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard to suit a particular purpose.” So basically we’re going to refine results of our creativity. In order to do that, we are going to judge our own work and then take action to correct the faults and omissions we find. This is a difficult thing to do, particularly because it’s difficult to get the distance we need to do a really good job on our own work.

So what skills and qualities do we need to do this job?

  1. Objectivity. We must come to the work with “new eyes,” i.e. we have to look at the work as though we have never seen it before. When we are in edit mode, we are looking at the work the way we think a very discerning audience might. Once we are in that place, we can begin to see what might impact that audience in what ways. So we begin to learn what we might leave out and add to make the work stronger.
  2. Ruthlessness. To actually start cutting away and adding in we must be without fear and without remorse. Every piece that we eliminate or modify is something that we made, and while it may have a great deal of merit on its own, it must be removed for the overall good of the piece. It takes strength to excise perfectly good material, but we must trust ourselves that the impact of the edited piece will justify the surgery.
  3. Knowledge of purpose, plan, message. In order to make such a judgement, we must first be aware of what the piece of work is trying to accomplish. Only by having this goal foremost in mind can we assess whether the artifact succeeds or fails in achieving that purpose. A firm separation from the artist must be maintained to insure valid judgement.
  4. A set of standards by which to judge. In addition to the goal of the piece, we need to be aware of our own standards about what makes art good. This can be something as simple as adherence to the principles of design or some more complex set of standards that has to do with our sense of aesthetics and ultimately what we think about the nature of art.
  5. A willingness to check the tiniest of details. We not only have to look at large issues like message and adherence to standards, we have to be able to drill down into the work to see how very small details affect the larger work. It is at this point when we really begin to understand what must be changed to improve the piece, or what needs to be left out entirely, or what must be enhanced.
  6. A means of judging the overall impact. Now that we have standards and some notion of the purpose of the piece and have looked at the details, we need to take a bird’s eye view to see how everything works together to create overall impact, and, more importantly, how pruning can improve that impact.

As you can see, this is not even close to the skill set for creativity. But if we are to be successful as working artists, we must develop this set of qualities and skills as well as the creative ones. Just as we develop our creative work flow, we must develop our judgement and willingness to edit ruthlessly to better our imaginative output.  Better editing will facilitate better work.

Category:Creativity, Productivity, Quality | Comment (0) | Author:

Entertainers and Political (Re)Action

Monday, 13. May 2019 0:52

There is a lot of film production in Georgia, so much, in fact, that it is sometimes called “The Hollywood of the South.” During 2018 455 productions were filmed there, resulting in 92,000 jobs and “$2.7 billion in direct spending.” One of the reasons for this is the state’s generous tax incentives for film production companies. I personally know actors who have moved to Georgia because of the availability of work there.

But this past week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed HB 481: Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act into law. Also known as the “heartbeat bill,” the law bans abortion “at any stage of pregnancy after the detection of ‘embryonic or fetal cardiac activity,’” and “effectively criminalizes…any woman who seeks an abortion or even one who miscarries in the state.” Opponents of the law have been quick to point out what they consider its flaws. Reaction from at least part of the film community has been swift, with five production companies announcing that they won’t film in Georgia until the law is overturned. Actress Alyssa Milano has said that if the law stands, she will not return to Netflix’s Insatiable for a third season unless the filming moves to a different state. Milano was among those who opposed the bill early, joining 49 other actors saying they would boycott the state if the bill became law.

Others have taken a different tactics. Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams have agreed to shoot an HBO horror drama in Georgia, but plan to donate their fees to help fight the law. Larger studios seem to be waiting for the law to be challenged in court.

Although those same large studios threatened to boycott Georgia over anti-LGBTQ legislation three years ago and essentially forced then-Governor Nathan Deal to veto the legislation, such political, economic action is a bit unusual for entertainment artists. The number of publically-involved celebrities is low, thus articles entitled “16 Celebs Who Make Their Political Leanings Crystal Clear,” “11 Most Politically Active Celebs,” “22 Celebrities Who have Become Political Activists,” “20 actors who weren’t afraid to get political in 2018” and “Seven of the most politically active celebrities in Trump era.” Most people in the entertainment industry seem to keep their politics private.

The question is should they? Some think that voicing political beliefs will impact their careers; indeed, actor James Woods claims to have been blacklisted for his conservative politics. Or should those in entertainment weigh in publically on political, social, and economic issues? In these days when many professionals in the entertainment world have huge Twitter and Instagram followings, and are thus obvious influencers, are they obligated to use that celebrity to influence the political thinking of their followers? Or should they wade into politics, economics, and social issues only when it’s very important to them? (And this law certainly qualifies as important, at least to any woman working in the state of Georgia, since she will be subject to it.) Or should they leave the public politics alone and just concentrate on their art and their image?

Only the entertainers themselves can answer these questions. At the end of the day, those in the entertainment industry are in the same position as anyone else. They can let the world know what they think or not, knowing that if they do voice their opinions, there may be reaction or even backlash. But like anyone else, they are impacted by laws that govern the places where they work, which, in turn, gives them the right to speak out if they feel such laws are wrong.

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