Our most recent project was the Doritos commercial for CrashTheSuperbowl. (It can be viewed here.)
So, let’s break it down. It’s a 30 second commercial. We were in production five weeks. I pitched the idea to my business partner Don. I gave the theme I wanted to hit: The American Farmer. Two weeks went by, while we mull over the plan and think up ideas.
We went out shooting on three separate days. On the first day of shooting, Don comes up with the shot list, and script. So, now we are working to a specific plan.
Day 1 of shooting, we were out for over 4 hours. That counts drive time, planning time, setup time. That doesn’t mean we actually shot for 4 hours, or gained 4 hours of video. But we were out for over 4 hours that day.
Day 2 of shooting, we were out for about 3 hours. On that day, we were trying to line up props from outside, and I talked to people doing research, trying to figure out who to approach.
Day 3 of shooting, we were out for maybe 5 hours. It was long, hot, windy, challenging, and without the help from amazing friends, we would never have gotten the shot.
That night, Don and I were on the phone for over 45 minutes, working on the writing/script/dialog. I was too fried to cut video that night.
The next day, I cut video and got the initial 30 second segment into the computer. That took about 45 minutes. It would have taken a lot longer, but I already knew, from paying attention, what footage I was going to use. So, I didn’t have to evaluate all the footage and make decisions and cut video. I already knew what was in the camera.
If anything, that initial video editing was the easiest part of this whole process.
Then we took 4-5 hours working on audio recording and video post production. That day, we recorded audio, mixed it, output it, input it into the video software. Edited and edited and edited and edited and did post production on the vid, then edited and edited…(you get the picture…)
We output the thirty second commercial (by now, how many cumulative hours are we up to on this project?). Evaluate it. Make sure there are no glitches. I burned a DVD, wanting to view it on something other than a computer screen. Burned DVD is not compatible with my DVD players. Rather than fight that problem, we went ahead and started filling out paperwork to submit.
WE SUBMIT!!! Okay, the video is out there, on its way, ready to be viewed by the world. Maybe this is a ladder rung step towards moving up. Maybe it’s a hiccup in the road?
But, by now, we’ve probably got 18 1/2 actual hours in this project, not to mention the amount of time where you let it mull over in your brain. Those hours are precious, and without them, no project will get complete. For me, it’s the quiet time when you are drifting and aren’t focused, that makes the difference between good art and mundane art.
Then there’s the hours spent cutting and editing still pics, related to the project. We spent probably 1 1/2 hours working on a press release. So…by now, I’m up to 20 actual hours spent on this project. All for a thirty second commercial??
What’s the bottom line? It’s about committing to a project and doing ‘whatever it takes’ to make it happen. I hesitate to use the phrase ‘whatever it takes’. Because our top priority is safety first. We won’t do things illegal or immoral. We won’t “use” people and take advantage of them, in order to further our own agenda.
‘Whatever it takes’ means, no matter how much work we have to do, or how difficult it is to stick with a project. we stuck with it. Whatever challenges we need to face to get a completion, we will meet those challenges.
So, that project is out there and away. When something is the main focus of your life, what happens when it’s complete?
I always have numerous projects in mind, and numerous things “on my plate” as they say.
And goodness knows that creativity ebbs and flows at different rates. No one can be 100% productive all the time.
And yesterday, Monday, was a bad day. I was riding the creative mood swing, so on those days, you just hang on and know that another day will be better.
Today, I woke up and one of my books was in my mind. I have all these manuscripts in various stages of completion, and they are waiting on me to be in the right frame of mind to work on them.
I don’t force it. I heard of one writer who sits at his desk from early morning, to late afternoon, and has the discipline to sit there. Sometimes he writes. Sometimes he bounces a ball against the wall, but that is his process–he makes himself sit at his desk during business hours, even if he isn’t specifically writing.
It doesn’t work that way for me. Some days one form of art is active in me, and some days, another.
Today, without planning, without thinking about it ahead of time…. It wasn’t in current memory being mulled over…I climbed out of bed, went to the computer and opened the file on a mystery I’m writing. This was not in my head yesterday or last week or last month or in the last year. But, I woke up today, and it was ‘there’.
I started writing. It blows me away when that happens. When it’s there. I kept writing and writing, and even outside distractions (they are surfacing my street these last 4 weeks, and it’s very irritating with all those machines groaning) didn’t deter the flow of words.
Words poured out of me. After 7 hours (taking time out for lunch and phone calls, etc), I had written 22 pages, at 7519 words.
Where in the world did that come from?
That experience of words pouring from your soul…everyone should experience that at least once.
Back in some of my earlier writing days, when I’d have a project going, I’d print out a calendar, month by month. On each day, I’d write my word count accomplished. Even at 2500 words a day, that really adds up.
I guess, when I started this blog, that’s part of the reason why. I wanted to be able to say, “Hey, I accomplished something,” even if only a part of the process. It takes many, many days worth of effort to “pull a book out of a human”. It isn’t for the faint of heart.
[Putting it out in the world and being judged is a whole ‘nother ball game, and not what today is about.]
Today is about projects. You finish one and hope for the best. You take pride in your work. You are happy you gained the knowledge and experience of this project. You take it forward.
And you work on the next project, wondering where it will take you.
C’est la vie!