Episode 2 is action packed! We dig into the perks of a tight feedback loop when sharing your work, my approach to daily making, my every day carry, and what it means to be “a producer”.
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Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover Dana Wilson and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Well hello there and welcome back to episode two. I am super stoked about the podcast today and so glad that you are here. I have a couple of updates before we dig into the meat. Number one, the podcast is now available on iTunes and Spotify and Apple podcasts and I got some very exciting news today that uh, words that move me has ranked in the top 100 of performing arts podcasts on Apple. I am flattered. Thank you so much for listening and for sharing and I’m getting a lot of great feedback from many of you, so thank you for that as well. Please do keep it up. I really love hearing from you. Nn a more somber note this week I learned of the passing of one of my favorite artists, Mr John Baldessari. If you don’t know who John Baldessari is, now would be a great time to find out. He is one of my favorite artists of all time and one of the most important conceptual artists of our time. and from what I understand was making art all the way up to the very end. If you don’t know who John Baldessari is, please go find out, celebrate the life and work. John Baldessari, we salute you
In lighter news. I had a couple important firsts this week that I would like to share with you. I worked as a dancer on a music video yesterday and as part of our look, I was on the receiving end for the first time in my life of acrylic nails that are maybe less than an inch long, but it feels like yardsticks hanging off the end of my fingers. Um, they’re gorgeous. Whoa, they’re like shiny and cool. Uh, but I’ve had to relearn how to do everything, especially type. Um, but also get into my car. Unbuckle my seatbelt, buckle my seatbelt, uh, wash my hair, eat food, get food out of my teeth. These are all like super steep learning curve for me right now. So kudos to all the ladies out there who make this work on a daily basis. I am rocked by this. I kinda like it. I think I could get used to it. Um, another first extensions and lots of them, which means lots of glue that I had to get out of my hair today with the fake nails and dish soap. I think it’s all out of there, but right now I do have a deep conditioning treatment in and my head is wrapped with um, some wrap. So if you hear that sound it’s me touching my head. Okay. I think that’s all for updates. Let’s get into the good stuff. Oh no, there’s one more. In case you couldn’t tell I’m sick. I knew this would happen at some point. I didn’t expect for it to be so soon in the series. I apologize that right now you’re having to listen to my stuffiness and the occasional cough. But I’m going to learn so much about editing out sniffles and sneezes and throat clears, so thank you for your patience today as back to 100%
Okay. In episode one, I make the argument for doing daily and I give my definition for creativity. I also talk about the story of how I started my 400 and some consecutive days of videos on Instagram. I talk about going from being afraid of cameras and technology to being about as comfortable in my editing software as I am in a dance studio and becoming a living mother ginger of cameras. I keep them everywhere and I will talk about those in a bit. Also, in the last episode, I touched on the importance of putting the perfectionist in the passenger seat. On a technicality, It’s impossible for all of your work to be your best work, and I believe it’s highly unlikely that your early work will be your best work, so why not get closer to your best work by working every single day? Yes. In episode one, I posed a challenge to all of you to make a creative work every single day even if it sucks and I’ve heard back and seen work from several of you who are on your way already. Congratulations. I’m excited for you.
Okay. I’m going to start by expanding on few of the thoughts from episode one, so if you haven’t listened to that you might want to jump back and catch up, but please if you’re driving, stay right where you are. Don’t touch your phone. I promise I’ll do my best to make this not feel like jumping straight to Return to the King when you haven’t seen the Fellowship or the Two Towers. If this podcast goes well. By the way, I think I will be starting a Lord of the rings appreciation podcast. Big, big fan. Okay. I’m going to start where we left off with the value that I found in making my project public. I loved the fast feedback loop of Instagram and I noticed that relative to other platforms like Facebook or YouTube, the feedback on Instagram tends towards positive. Notice there’s not even a thumbs down option there and I think that’s deliberate. I’m sure it is designed to keep you feeling good so that you stay there longer. Well, I don’t like the thought of somebody else trying to engineer how I spend my time, but I do, as a recovering perfectionist who’s been hard on myself and my body and my work since I was very young, find great value in the occasional pat on the back. That said, this project was a great, really low stakes way for me to practice receiving criticism.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed or if you’ve been on the receiving end, but people can be super harsh from the other side of a screen, and I like most of you, creative types, whether you choose to admit it or not, am a delicate flower. I’m going to talk more about criticism in a future podcast, but for now I’d like to leave you with this Teddy Roosevelt quote, which you may have already heard and encourage you to go watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special, A Call to Courage. All right, here we go Roosevelt.
“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man that’s actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly. Who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds? Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause? Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Whew. Oh my gosh. Brings a tear to my eye. Listen, once you’ve done a daily doodle or daily thing, past 400 days, you can come rip me apart. But until then, as far as I’m concerned, I am untouchable. I am Sparta. Oh man, I would love to use that sound bite here, but I don’t think that is allowed. So moving on now, I’d like to talk about approach.
I’ve been choreographing for close to 20 years and I don’t think my process was the same for any two pieces. I really can’t tell you exactly what to think or do that will get you through a lifetime of fulfilling making. But I can tell you a bit about the mindset and the techniques that helped me get through a year of daily making. First, take your ideas seriously, especially the silly ones. Get ready to start hearing the inner child, AKA artist. Constantly speak up. mine usually said something like, Oh, wouldn’t it be funny if or, Oh, it’d be crazy if, or, Ooh, you should really. And then I got in the habit of listening and when I’d hear sentences start like that, I’d respond to them right away. I wasn’t always in a place where I could act right away, so I’d keep lists. I kept one called “carry on” and the other was called checked baggage. Obviously the carry on is for fast and easily accessible ideas. Something that I thought I could knock out in a couple of hours without much planning. None of them take as long as you think. By the way, go ahead and double it. Then you’re on the right track. All right. The checked baggage list, on the other hand is where I kept bigger ideas that needed a little bit more flushing out. For example, a project that needed a specific location or costume or other people getting involved. Now, if both bags lists, we’re empty. This is what I do and I recommend you do this everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re working on a daily project, when you run out of things on your idea lists, take a field trip or what Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way calls an artist date. This is a time when you can indulge in curiosity, when you can go deep inside yourself and observe what’s going on there or you can zoom out and sale above all the people in things going on in this world and observe them. I had a lot of my favorite ideas solo on artists dates, speaking of ideas and coming up with new ones. I think it’s important to remember that many great artists have built careers off of going deep on just a few ideas. Take John Baldessari for example, he put dots on faces for years years, so even if you’ve chosen a daily challenge, don’t feel like you need to choose a new idea every single day.
All right. My final offering on the subject of approach is more than a trick or a tool or a rule. It is a way of life. It is. Yes, and. you may be familiar with “yes, and” as being the golden rule of improv comedy. Well, it is not just the golden rule. It is the guiding principle of my life. My favorite illustration of this, and I’m going to, I’m going to ask you to get involved here. I’m going to ask you a question and you’re going to say no. Okay.
Hey, uh, can I tell you a story real quick?
Oh dang. That’s a shame. Dead in the water. Now let’s try again. I’m going to ask a question this time you’re going to answer yes, no matter what I say.
Can I tell you a story real quick?
Cool. Is it okay if it’s about outer space? Right on. Is it okay if it’s about Brittany Spears in outer space? Great. Is it okay if it’s about Brittany Spears in outer space being chased by a space bear? You didn’t even know space bears existed all. Let me tell you about space bears. Can I tell you about space bears? Okay.
You see where this is going? Lot of room for creativity. Just say yes, and then keep going.
All right. As promised, I’m going to talk a little bit about gear. Now there’s a lot of hype and words around cameras and quality and you can talk about pixels and sensor size and frame rates and things until you’re blue in the face, but if you asked me what’s the best camera, I’d say it’s the one you have on you and it’s the one you know how to use no sense in having a big fancy camera if you don’t know how to use it. My arsenal started with an iPhone and is now an iPhone, a galaxy for ease of use when I’m overseas, a VIXA mini, a Sony A 6,000 a DJI Osmo, the pocket gimbal, super cute, uh, Ricoh Theta and the Theta S an Insta 360 1 and an Insta 360 X and a DJI Mavic, which is a drone, which is awesome. All of these are useless if they aren’t charged up, so keep backup chargers and batteries and of course they’re useless if they’re not on me, which is why they’re all small and is why my backpack is heavy.
Pro-tip, by the way, speaking of backpacks, the Lululemon Cruiser, the one that was made in 2014 it’s not the one with hard case for your glasses on the outside. It’s a soft pouch on the outside. All of the pockets on the outsider, soft, three pockets on the outside, two long ones, one, two long vertical ones, and then a horizontal one at the top. Oh my gosh. I might just do a full podcast backpack review someday because I have a lot to say about backpacks. I’m going to keep this very brief. Here’s something that a lot of people don’t think about when they’re buying a backpack. The color of the inside of the backpack. This is where the cruiser gets it, right? Exterior the backpack. Well they may come in many different colors, but exterior black, I love solid black. Interior cream so that I can see all my black items that I keep in there like charging cables, um, tights, leotards, you know, it really helps to be able to see the inside is bright. So Lululemon Cruiser, good luck because I have an eBay search out for them. Usually when they spring up, I buy them right away. Moving right along. What is inside of the backpack is absolutely as important as the backpack itself. Maybe more so. Let me run down a quick list of things that you might not think that you need on an adventure of daily doing, but the, you really, really do number one, a camera or capture system of some sort, SD cards and many of them. Tape. I mean in general, whether you’re in a creative moment or not, you need tape. You might also need cash and you certainly need an all weather notebook just in case it starts to rain. We already covered spare chargers and batteries, so okay.
Moving on to the software front. I love the Adobe suite. Couldn’t recommend it more. lynda.com , lynda.com was the online tutorial that I use to learn the Adobe suite and I am stoked about it. Number one fan, first in line on the mailing list. Absolutely obsessed. Okay, so we’ve talked about the feedback and the approach and the tools. We even covered hardware and software. Now I want to talk about the big picture production, the making of things.
You’ve probably heard the saying it takes a village and that is true, especially for creative projects like films, TV shows, music, but I like to think of it a little bit less as a village and more like a gigantic automobile assembly plant. You know the ones with a big robot, super arm that puts all the parts together? Yes, that one and the parts are all of the different teams. The parts usually come from different places, different factories if you will, and they’re all designed and specialized for their specific function. So in my little metaphor, the carps and the electronics, they’re the chassis production. Design team is the body, the stylists and wardrobe designers. They’re the interior. The choreo team are the wheels. Lighting is, well the lights and music is obviously the music. If we were to really go deeper, I would tell you that the stunt coordinator and the onset medic, they are the airbags. Now here’s the part where it gets good. The producers are the big robot arm. The director is the engine and the talent are the ones that get in the car and drive. Now this is a big abstraction and I’m leaving out some key players like camera, but this is how I like to think of it. So let’s focus for a moment on the producer. The robot arm, if you’re still in the metaphor, this is kind of tough because the job producer can mean very different things from project to project. Film producer has different responsibilities than a music producer for example. And then if we really lift up the rug and take a look, there’s executive producers, co-producers, line producers. Although I could spend an entire podcast talking about the job descriptions and a breakdown of the hierarchy of all of these roles, but for now, let’s do a general demystification. Producers are responsible for the project financially and logistically. They understand the full scope and they know who will be the best to get the job done, so they pull the team together.
That’s everyone from director to grips to publicists, electricians, gaffers, choreographers, writers, stylists, dressers, hair and makeup, yes, dancers, et cetera, et cetera. All of us, and they delegate and communicate with all of these departments throughout the production and make sure that it gets done and gets done on time and within budget. Fingers crossed. I had a really unique experience with this on my daily project because by the time I started making my own micro movies, I’d already been in a handful of feature films, so I became fascinated with how things are made from a very, very small scale to a huge scale. One of the best things that I gained from that perspective is an understanding of exactly how much work goes into a production. Even a tiny one. I learned the value of location scouts and camera operators and editing and lighting, Holy heck lighting. So important. And that gave me a whole new level of compassion and respect for those that I share set with. And I would like to gift that to all of you because no matter what your discipline is in the fullness of time, your path will cross or maybe even merge with a different one. And because of projects like daily doing when they do, you’ll be ready for it.
All right, my friend, I hope you are feeling prepared and inspired and ready to make because I am ready to wash this conditioner out of my hair. I so look forward to talking to you next week and until then, keep it funky. I do. I like keep it funky. I think that keep it funky is my sign off. I believe in it fully.