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Creativity

The art of going on

A big part of life as a writer/director is handling rejection. Rejections from festivals, prizes, grants, producers, actors… I mean, anyone who can reject you will do so. Perhaps several times. And even someone who appears successful externally is getting crushed with some form of rejection.

Some rejections you can brush off and move on. Others linger. The depth of the wound and the recovery time is directly proportional to the sum of how much you deluded yourself and how much you wanted it.

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. So when Peter Bradshaw linked to this article by Rose Tremain, I read it immediately. If you are a filmmaker, you should read the whole article.

The most significant hurdle of all is finding the resources to defeat the almost inevitable 48-hour blues that follow the non-win, and the energy to return to the work in hand, unaffected by what’s just happened to a different book. Every writer I know feels more or less contented or discontented with day-to-day life according to how his or her writing is going. Many, many things will affect this, but I know that the non-win of a prize can seem to infect the ongoing work with a badness-virus and lay the author low. What’s on the page or screen – in which there had been stubborn belief, perhaps even garlanded a bit with excitement – can suddenly appear less than first-rate. Sentences crease and bend. Dialogue sounds wan. Even the ideas which inform the book can buckle at the knees.

The art of surviving this is simply the art of keeping on. Time and hard work will heal the poor ravaged thing. In the work lies the future. In the future may lie other shortlists and other wins or non-wins. And so the whole darn desperate process begins again …

By the time I reached the end, I was tearing up with empathy1. But, taking her advice, I shall get back to work instead.


  1. My rejections, to be clear, are on a much smaller, less relevant scale. 


On creativity and “genius”

If you’re in any creative field, watch this video by writer of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner who’s struggling along or established and successful in your field – you will get a lot from this clip. Twenty minutes, completely absorbing and has little nuggets that may help you be creative.


Ira Glass on Storytelling

These videos are excellent. He’s talking specifically about the broadcast world, but it applies to any creative storyteller (writer, photographer, filmmaker, artist). The first three are particularly relevant, the third video is my favorite. Brilliant stuff.



Pangea Day

In 2006, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim was awarded the TED Prize. Each TED Prize winner is allowed to ask for one wish and TED will leverage the power of the attendees to make the wish come true (pretty cool, huh?)

Jehane’s wish – “I wish to bring the world together for one day a year through the power of film.” Ta da – Pangea Day was born.

This Saturday, May 10, 24 short films selected from thousands of submissions will be broadcast globally. The films range in length from 2 to 15 minutes (most of them around 5). In addition to the films, a dozen powerful three-minute talks from scientists, film-makers, story-tellers and global visionaries will be featured. These talks will cover the latest ideas in anthropology, psychology and technology.

In addition to the main locations of Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro, Pangea Day will be available on TV in a ton of countries. In the US, the full four-hour program is being carried live on Current TV. Star TV will carry it in China/India/Asia, MGM Networks in Latin America, Sky in the UK, several partners in the Mid-East, and many more around the world. The timings are  Saturday, May 10th 11am-3pm US West Coast, 2-6pm US East Coast, 7-11pm in UK, 8pm-midnight in Europe and much of Africa, 9pm-1am in the Mideast, 11.30pm-3.30am India, etc.

And of course, it will also be available online!

You won’t just be watching the show though. You’ll be watching it with tens of thousands of people around the world and the audience reactions will be broadcast. As the TED email about Pangea Day said “Watching a film about reconciliation is one thing. Watching it while simultaneously witnessing the reactions of people who are supposed to hate each other will be something else altogether.”

Can film change the way people think? Can it change perceptions about countries and alien cultures? Watch Kenya sing the Indian national anthem.

To me, the answer is yes.

I happened to be at TED when Jehane gave her acceptance speech. I’ve been waiting to see this wish come true and I will be spending four hours this Saturday being part of Pangea Day.

Will you?