Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Half Baked or a Good Idea?

I often wonder where good ideas come from. I have lots of ideas, many good, many overlooked, and many not so good ones. I have always liked Michael Keaton's character in Night Shift who was forever coming up with half baked ideas that he would talk into a tape recorder- here's an example.

"What if you mix the mayonnaise in the can, WITH the tunafish? Or... hold it! Chuck! I got it! Take LIVE tuna fish, and FEED 'em mayonnaise! Oh this is great.
[speaks into tape recorder] Call Starkist!" (I must digress, my favorite Michael Keaton line has got to be "220-221 whatever it takes" in response to Martin Mull in Mr. Mom.)

Paul Simon wrote a song called Think Too Much and then, like anyone who thinks too much, wrote another song called Think Too Much. I think young artists often fall into a trap of over thinking things. Often, the easiest solution is the best solution. This goes back to something I wrote about a long time ago- the enemy of good is better. Over thinking a problem often leads to more trouble. I usually rely on my instincts and first impressions. If the original idea sticks with me, then it is probably worth pursuing. It might need some shaping and tinkering, but if the basic idea has some traction I am going to stick with it.

Jim and I began shooting a new documentary yesterday. The other day I said let's have the interviewees talk directly into the camera (as opposed to me off to the side). It is something we have only done once before and an aesthetically not my favorite choice, but in this case it worked. The feeling is very intimate- as if the viewer is being let in on a secret. I think I have devoted more time writing about it here than I did thinking about it, yet I knew it was a good and valid idea. I guess one could argue that I also used 20 years of experience to get that flash of an idea, but that's another post.


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