Where the heck does it all come from?

Chris at cabin That’s what Lucia, my lovely girlfriend often asks – ‘where the heck does it all come from?’

‘The incubation process is the power of your subconscious mind to use all your knowledge and experiences to solve a specific problem, and its efficiency is dictated by time, creative orientation and ego…’

That kind of sums it up for me. Of course, that was not written by me, it’s way too eloquent – it’s from a book I am reading right now, about copywriting – ‘The Adweek Copyrighting Handbook’ by Joseph Sugarman. Pretty good I have to say.

Chris This week I am on a creative sabbatical. Every so often, Lucia takes me away for week, usually in the UK, for some time to reflect, regroup, set goals and generally relax. This year I have found myself on our own private island (it’s a small one) with a lake and a boat, a black swan and a very, very nice log cabin… and my plotting for 2010 has already begun!

But back to the question, ‘where the heck does it all come from?’

Being creative is one of the hardest things to be as it’s just impossible to ‘switch it on’ like a tap. Sure I can fake it and appear to ‘be creative’ as I have learned stuff that works, it’s a kind of bag of tricks I rely upon when under very serious time pressures, but the good stuff? That needs seeds that are lovingly planted in fertile soil, watered, bathed in just the right sunlight when they germinate, and lovingly pruned when they blossom into something worth showing to others.

And so every year, I try to get away from my office, my routine and my life, so that I can reconnect with what I want to do next in this grandest of adventures called life. I try to fill that week with as much sleep, as much staring out of windows, and as much stuff I loved to do as a kid as I can squeeze in.

Today it was fossil hunting on the beach at Lyme Regis (where fossils are literally falling out of the cliff walls). Palaeontology is one of my great loves in life, so much so I nearly studied it at university (one day in a geology lesson I had an epiphany, ‘I want to make movies’, went home and told my mum and dad who paused for a long time, and then said… ‘OK! How do you study to be a film director then?’). Thank goodness I didn’t choose to go to Uni and study palaeontology as studying anything can have the rapid effect of turning a healthy interest into a serious dislike! So happily, I remain an enthusiastic amateur fossil hunter. Like so many kids, dinosaurs captured my imagination. And what are fossils if not a direct time machine back to those amazing times, and a time machine that I could even hold in my hand and study for hours on end… imagining what if…?

Lulu And that same imagination and enthusiasm flooded back today as we rummaged around the wet rocks, looking to discover miraculous and tantalising evidence of life 100 million years ago – Lucia found a stunning ammonite that had been fossilised in iron pyrites, and I found, deep in the clays of the cliff face, two joining pieces of Ichthyosaurus bone, possibly a rib bone I suspect. They are sat right next to my laptop right now. Amazing!

So what has all of this got to do with making movies?

Well for me, an awful lot.

Awe, wonder and an agile imagination are simultaneously fired when digging for hidden treasure – I have been positively brimming with ideas since I retuned from the wind and rain beaten coast.

Each night, as darkness closes in, my mind turns to next year.

Which of the various adventures should I choose? Each sit like possible doorways, tantalisingly open just an inch. To see inside I have to go inside. And I know that to go inside commits me to the journey – the adventure will never just ‘come to me’, I need to take positive and aggressive action to both seek and demand it.

And so I hope that this week, a clearing in my overly hectic life will open up…

And all this time, my subconscious has been doing dream like number crunching (or idea storming). I just need the space to listen to my subconscious. And I know from experience, my subconscious is where the really good stuff lives, the dangerous stuff, the difficult stuff, the emotional stuff, the entrepreneurial stuff, exciting stuff… In short, the stuff worth doing…

So to Lucia, ‘that’s where, kind of, it comes from’, and when you create that space, as you have done this time (and times before), the magic is certain to follow soon.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author


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