When Collaboration kills Creativity

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  03 March 2013
teruchan I always wonder why sequels suck. A committee of producers hacking around randomly. The film can only suck b*lls.

kelgy, if only I could write as bad as Cameron.

In my opinion nothing will work unless you start from a detailed blue print of what the team should be working on. Every member can go creative with their own area as long as it supports the overall project and makes it better. You need one person to decide if the new ideas does support the vision of the project as laid out in the blue print and if changes need to be made.

Over the process of film evolution history that is the process that works. The blue print being the script. The person making final creative decisions on whether to include or not, the director. And the director handing down work to support the overall project vision.

Importantly, the director would also have one side of their brain knowing how much each shot costs and the project schedule, so some of the decisions maybe for cost and time benefits.

Jules
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by Jules123: kelgy, if only I could write as bad as Cameron.


Well I think his best film is Terminator and he had help with the script. Avatar..I cant remember if it had a script.

Traditionally the producer was also very important in the decision making-and making creative input. By its nature film is collaborative--its whether the people get along and other factors.


The 5 Ps they advised in Cinemagic magazine were:
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
And to start with a plan even if you deviate from it.
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by kelgy: Avatar..I cant remember if it had a script.


This ought to refresh your memory.

Avatar script
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by pap87: This ought to refresh your memory.

Avatar script


Thanks for the effort but I dont plan to revisit the movie in any format.
Maybe some day I'll watch a visual fx highlight reel in between a movie with better characters and plot if nothing else is available.
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by kelgy: Personally I dont buy the director as auteur theory. Cameron might be or was a good action director and creative but he is a terrible writer and Pinewood did well when it was servicing British films (with tea breaks) through the 50s and 60s. The Pinewood story just made Cameron look like a type A personality ahole.

One of the most famous "director is god" films was Myra Breckinridge where it was a complete disaster because the director had total control and the producers didnt reign him in.
No studio input and the Godfather would have turned out like the Cotton Club.

Mask of Zorro had a lot of hands on it but somehow worked out very well.


Well, I did say this works best in Japan. The audience there is far more accepting of non mainstream ideas and so films don't have to be formulaic, cookie cutter, aristotelian packaged products in order to find success. That's likely also why they have a bigger and more successful indie market.
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  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by Jules123: kelgy, if only I could write as bad as Cameron.

You are just saying that because your last block buster bombed at the box office.
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  03 March 2013
Cameron is a better writer by himself than Lucas but his best work was with William Wisher and Gale Anne Hurd around (and Harlan Ellison in the shadows).

After Terminator 2 I dont really have any interest in revisiting his films (not that he made many).
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: I think collaboration can only work with a solid leader. Didn't someone post that article about James Cameron working at Pinewood in another thread?


That was me. It was from "The Making of ALIENS" where James Cameron had to work in Pinewood with key animatronics and other Special Effects like the Alien Queen being made at ILM.

I was watching it looking for what I could learn from how James was running the project. The documentary had a lot of candid footage well before Reality TV existed and Cameron was kind of a "terror director".

But what I did notice was that he never argued on the basis of his own ego. Instead he would argue based on what the project needed or what the story called for.

The first big flare up was about him vs Pinewood's in-house lighting director. The guy wanted to light ALIENS so that you had some good visibility of the characters and some key areas, but Jim wanted no lights at all, and wanted all the light to mostly just come from the lamps on the marines' suits and the lamps attached to the guns or things. They had a big fight about it. And then Jim fired him.

James Cameron didn't fire the guy because he didn't agree with James Cameron. Jim fired him because he "didn't get what the film needed". Others at the head of the film understood that ALIENS was supposed to be like this haunted spelunking in space movie. People who didn't get that got the axe.

Then there was James Cameron's war against the Tea Lady... and then James Cameron vs the Loo ("Going to the toilet without asking me first can cost you your job"). It wasn't because he thought of himself so high and mighty - It was because he was afraid that with a picture of the scale of ALIENS something was bound to go wrong and he wanted as much time in hand to fix it. Nobody understood his paranoia about it. But he was proven right in some odd way when the Alien Queen fell behind schedule (although that incident wasn't Pinewood's).

One episode I thought interesting was James Cameron vs the Face Hugger Puppeteer. Jim had conceptualized how the face hugger could be done as a puppet on strings. He would demonstrate the technique properly, and then get frustrated when the Special Effects guy couldn't get it to work. It was like watching a drill sergeant. Then Jim would bellow: "Are you ready yet?" The FX guy would say: "Yes sir I'm ready." They'd do a take and Jim would angrily say: "No you're not ready. Come back to me when you're READY!"

The thing was HE could do it.. And couldn't understand what problems other people had with it. It was strange....

Then there's Steven Spielberg's style which Richard Dreyfuss described as being a relaxed style that somehow managed to get whatever Steven wanted out of everybody. THAT is a GOOD style!
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  03 March 2013
Quote: One episode I thought interesting was James Cameron vs the Face Hugger Puppeteer. Jim had conceptualized how the face hugger could be done as a puppet on strings. He would demonstrate the technique properly, and then get frustrated when the Special Effects guy couldn't get it to work. It was like watching a drill sergeant. Then Jim would bellow: "Are you ready yet?" The FX guy would say: "Yes sir I'm ready." They'd do a take and Jim would angrily say: "No you're not ready. Come back to me when you're READY!" The thing was HE could do it.. And couldn't understand what problems other people had with it. It was strange....


I've had that happen to me. Hiring some great artists who just didn't get the character and did their own design when the design was right there.

Also I think it should be one person in charge with advisers who specialize in something. Like Lucas really needs someone by his side who was good at scripting. The scripts were horrible. He did best when he was the idea man and let people do their job while following his idea and reigning him in sometimes.

Collaboration in control and directed with planning is the best route. With everything BALANCE Daniel son!
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by pap87: This ought to refresh your memory.

Avatar script


Heh, I clicked on the link thinking it was going to be this:

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  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by leigh: Heh, I clicked on the link thinking it was going to be this:



Leigh, you've highlighted just how important (it's the most important IMHO) a good story is. It's 101 of good script writing. Some believe there are only 7 basic stories, can't remember where I read that, I think it was Christopher Vogler's book "The Writer's Journey".

If someone does their own IP CGI film project, it doesn't matter how flashy the graphics are, if the story is not good; the film at best can be mediocre (IMHO). That's why I love Pixar etc. They are as obsessed with great stories.

Jules
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by Jules123: That's why I love Pixar etc. They are as obsessed with great stories.

Not the best example. To me at least, Pixar's commitment to story is overrated. At this point, I think that all of the praise being heaped on them stems from other studios' failure to take risks and, quite honestly, them just being Pixar. I feel that they're really only 50-50 when it comes to story.

Don't get me wrong. I'll certainly give Pixar credit where it's due. They always push the boundaries of visual storytelling. However, as with Avatar, the story being told isn't always fresh and complex. It can be a hit or miss thing with them. While they have definitely given us stories that have felt bold and complex, they've as easily missed the mark by a country mile. I'll let y'all debate which were lumpy or blatant rip-offs and which were pure genius.

I'll never doubt anybody's love for Pixar. I love the hell out of them too, at times. However, to say that they're "obsessed with great stories" seems to elevate them to some lofty status I don't think that they deserve. IMO, they're as consistent as any other studio out there. Sometimes, you get priceless gold. Other times, you just get a polished poo. Like any other studio. There are certainly studios and films that "outPixar" Pixar.

As far as the OP's topic concerning collaboration....

You can't escape it. You can't really afford to be a lone wolf in the CG industry. Not if you want a steady paycheck. You have to get used to the idea of a team and all that brings to the table. You've got to check the ego at the door and be open to the fact that your ideas aren't the only ones. You are a small, but important part in a much bigger machine.

Collaboration can stimulate and nurture ideas. Other people can inject your idea with something unique to them. They can take it places that are fresh and bold. The dark side of collaboration is that too much can lead to incoherence. Not necessarily from too many people, but - perhaps - from too many ideas themselves.

Design by committee has a bad reputation for a good reason. I think that we've all seen movies with excellent potential that were ultimately killed by an overabundance of studio notes. We've all played games where the devs entertained every wild idea, but never fleshed out one completely.

Collaboration is great as long as there's somebody there to provide focus and boundaries. I don't think collaboration necessarily destroys creativity. I just think that, unchecked, it can muddy it.
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Last edited by cookepuss : 03 March 2013 at 06:07 AM.
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by Jules123: teruchan I always wonder why sequels suck.


Joe, Jane, and Bob get together and make a movie. It's a hit. Now they want to make a sequel:

1. If they had a great idea waiting to find its way into a project, they probably used it on the first film.

2. People have a finite number of great ideas in them, ideas they're passionate about, and sequels are all about putting the band back together; i.e., a bunch of people who've probably shot their wad already.

3. Talented people who have great ideas they're passionate about don't lay up at night wondering how to work them into somebody else's sequel (Aliens wasn't really a sequel to Alien, it was something very different using the same setting, which is part of why it's the quintessential "good sequel.") so much as they lay up at night wondering how to realize their own original project.

Call me crazy, but I've never thought of scriptwriting as one of George Lucas' problem areas. He wrote the scripts to the original Star Wars trilogy and (IIRC) Raiders of the Lost Ark. Both worked pretty well, I think. I think his problem was he stuck with Star Wars long after he'd really burned out on it. He was a young, hungry buck when he made the first SW. He was a rich old fat cat when he made the prequels. Pink Floyd's "I have become comfortably numb" comes to mind.

It's really kind of sad, when you think about how much cooler the prequels could have been, just by having someone with good taste in control of the art direction. A beautifully painted and rendered vehicle or creature or robot based on stupid-looking concept art is just a tragedy, but examples abound in the prequels.

I think Lucas went into the prequels knowing that he had nothing to say.

Last edited by JQP : 03 March 2013 at 09:56 PM.
 
  03 March 2013
Originally Posted by teruchan: Well, I did say this works best in Japan. The audience there is far more accepting of non mainstream ideas and so films don't have to be formulaic, cookie cutter, aristotelian packaged products in order to find success. That's likely also why they have a bigger and more successful indie market.


Being a culture far less willing to say "that sucked" might have something to do with it.
 
  03 March 2013
Lucas came up with story ideas for Star Wars and Raiders
but didnt write the actual scripts that were used in the final films.

For Star Wars I believe Brian DePalma and John Milius rewrote the opening crawl and other people also contributed to the final screenplay.
Lawrence Kasdan was main writer on Raiders, ESB and ROTJ.

In fact I think Lucas said he reached out to other people (Frank Darabont maybe) to work on the scripts for the prequels but they said no because they wanted to experience the movies without prior knowledge.
 
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