When Collaboration kills Creativity


I just saw this interesting video that discusses collaboration/creativity. Since a lot of it has to do with the nature of our work, I thought I’d share. What are you’re thoughts? On a light note, I keep thinking of episodes of The Office… But more seriously, are too many people destructive to a cg project?



I think the end of his piece says it best - everything in moderation.


Weird vid. We work better alone. On no wait we work better with the right individuals?


Changed question mark to period for the fix.

You can never have too many “right individuals”. Personally I think collaboration is great with the right people. You see a different perspective just from 2 or 3 of your team members critiquing something.

You all share the story that you’re working with. And if the writer is clear about where it’s supposed to go, then you all know the plot-goal. Getting there is where the creativity is and I honestly can see that it is important you have the people who can say “No” to your worst ideas.


Hmm I agree that collaboration is the way to go. The question mark was in reference to the point of the video. There wasn’t much there that isn’t common sense.


Having tried to do a couple collaborative projects (including starting a business) and failed each time, I’d say that the single thing that killed the creative process each time was the lack of a creative director. Each attempt I’ve been a part of thus far had a structure where the creative input and direction was governed by committee, and the problem with that is it makes deciding on a clear direction for the project nearly impossible. Everyone may have good ideas, but if everyone must decide together, it takes more time and often people’s emotions get in the way.

I think collaborations work well when one of the members has the larger vision for the project and makes the final decisions. You can still have plenty of room for creative input, but someone has to make the call otherwise projects end up stagnant.


AND this person needs to be aware for when others in the group have a BETTER idea on the day. :slight_smile:

When you’re in a good group, a lot of you guys are pretty smart, there is no monopoly of Creative Vision possible or you’ll limit the value of others’ talent.


You just need someone to take the lead and make quick final decisions. Otherwise you’re stuck in endless meetings and changes. A good director/team leader is key for collaborative projects.
There can be exceptions of course, some dedicated group of friends who share the exact same vision might work perfectly fine without a leader, but in general it’s safer not to work this way.


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?

In Japan this ide surfaces best. When I interviewed a producer of Afro Samurai, he once said that in Japan it is understood that the director is god, and you may go to him with a cool sci-fi project, but if he comes back with a film about World War Ii dog fighting, that’s what you get. A very big difference from when I worked on, say, House on haunted Hill II and we had about seven different producers coming in daily to change things to fit their vision. I never saw the director.


This is the one thing that schools don’t understand when forcing students to work in groups. Ultimately it will dissolve unless there’s one person in charge of the project.

Without the hierarchy and with mostly random people grouped together it’s a fucking mess every time.


I don’t really think it’s an issue of needing a “Good Leader” as much as there’s a need to have a communication supervisor and if/when communications break down stiff penalties will ensue and like in a real job the person that’s not communicating or is slacking is put in jeopardy in some way.


Isn’t that kind of what a “Good Leader” does?


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.


I think you guys have left something important out too and that’s Planning. Before any collaboration even takes place a lot of pre production should be made. I don’t think that you can manage a team without first knowing your “vision”. Before forming a team in the first place, you need to know what you want, I don’t think it’s a good idea to ask someone “oh lets create something together, how about a sci-fi themed idea” … etc.

I also feel it can be problematic to come up with an idea together. There will be conflicting ideas in the direction of concept if there’s a disagreement.


Been there in many fashions from school to outside group settings for creative presentations, etc. I took some university classes a while back where the prof let everyone randomly get together for a group project, and since no one had a sense of ownership it seemed a little diluted, they rode the coattails of everyone else.

I had also, at one time, worked on some tv pilots when reality tv first hit big time and money was easy to greenlight a smaller budget show. The producer had his inhouse staff brainstorm for show ideas and it was hilarious. Nothing solid, with no coherant direction, just a proven cookie cutter concept. Needless to say it didn’t do well by hiring a director last minute.

Yet the things that I find most interesting are the projects that have a tight grip of control. They stem from crazy megalomaniacs. And the CG avenue makes this possible to have a singular vision unlike anything before.

(Ok I take that back a bit–Novels as an exception, but we’re talkin’ visual, folks!)


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.



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.


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.


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.