Finding Inspiration & Inspiring Commerce

There’s a sublime quality in movies that attracts our attention. I’ve always been curious on what goes behind the scene in a movie production and Hollywood has a legendary reputation of doing things to the extreme, recently, the rest of the world have caught up — thanks to Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men and Brokeback Mountain, we are seeing more and more mentionable feature films that shall not waste our 90 minute.

As a photographer, I draw a lot of inspirations from movies; this has been my trusty source of ideas since I was an architecture student. I remember coming into third year of my undergraduate in Shanghai, we were given an assignment to build a recreational facility for the elderly, with a twist. Instead of a perfectly shaped land mass, we were given an elongated, trapezoid shaped empty space with hilly surface, today I can see the real intention behind this brilliant task, but as a student then, I walked out of the dean’s office saying: “This is a complete waste of time!”.

Real work did not happen until 10 days to the deadline, ironically The World is Not Enough came out that month; I was being supportive to my buddies who are doing real work for the project, promised we would all watch them together as soon as we all collected our design; with a heavy hand, I decided to shut my door, pull the blind (it was around 2 in the afternoon) and pop the two-piece $1 illegal VCDs to my 3-piece turntable style Sony Home Stereo to turn my dorm room into a private cinema screening of: “Bond, James Bond”.

And that was it, halfway to the movie, during the scene where the MI6 headquarter was being intruded, there was a chase that lead to an escape through the wall into the river (sorry for the lack of details) where a wall was being blown and a pod of some sort came through and dived in to the river, that was it. That was my inspiration. The bird’s eye view of the scene gave me an awe-inspiring view of MI6’s fictional compound with a nearly identical hilly texture & elongated land shape with my project, and I could clearly see the organic elements of the compound, some greens in the middle of the complex, multi-story design, and as a bonus, there’s a brilliantly designed window frame next to the blown wall structure that was distinctly classic & futuristic at the same time.

I quickly grab my sketchpad, rewind, pause, fast-forward pause and there goes my master sketch for my entire design. Sadly I could never thanked the movie crew for this, Thank you!

Today, I discovered something of an irony. The great length filmmakers went are often far greater than most of do in living our live, doing our jobs; the green is not only greener on the other side, they (filmmakers) went to those extra miles making sure that it’s prettier, greener and more expensive-than-necessary, they can do that because the investors know they will earn back the profit, faster and bigger than any business when they back some big-shot directors and handsome actors shooting summer blockbusters.

In the real world, it’s all about compromise, there’s almost nothing in this world that does not involve creativity (ideas) or commerce (money), the two are opposing by nature, creativity is an unpredictable journey while commerce are projected, planned and assumed final prior to any projects, the relation between creative with commerce will almost always be ‘creative v. commerce’ not ‘creative & commerce’, they seldom go along.

That is why, I think the world is such a mess sometimes, brilliant people with great ideas have no choice but to compromise with reality (it’s always about money), and most bankers are left-brained, number-crunching folks, while creative people are simply crazy and the two mock each other all the time.

What I really wanna say is, we all need to let go, if you have money and you are backing a project of some sort, let the idea flow and have faith, interference will only cause delays and downgrades to the end result, respect people’s creativity and just enjoy the show. If you have ideas and looking for someone to buy it, sell well, inspire them and make them understand, but don’t try to convince them, because they come to you convinced that they have the money and they know the best; motivate them and get them out of their suit and walk to your garden of ideas barefooted so they can feel the grass and smile with you. This is the only way of motivating investors: make them see the same horizon as you are. If you don’t see this happening, don’t even bother, go knock someone else’s door, there are plenty of others waiting for you, waiting for your ideas to blossom, you just need to open your eyes & ears and be still enough to listen to your heart.

One of the highlights of this week was my discovery of Pictory, an awesome online magazine by Laura Brunow Miner and Objectified a documentary on design by Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, 2007). To do justice to the two, I would just let you all go check it out and find your own inspiration; as for me, The Jakarta International Film Festival opened yesterday, and I got half a dozen screenings and two master classes by Christian L. Scheurer and Petr Lom to attend to.

Creativity & Commerce will always be part of our lives, and life by nature is organic & unpredictable, so let us all just enjoy the show & be inspired. Just forget everything that has been said & written and just be creative!

What Dreams May Come Concept Art “HEAVEN” 2003 © Polygram by Christian L. Scheurer.