tips_bulbThe Concept is the single idea or message or thought around which your piece is built. It’s the thing that holds your work together, harmonizing all its different elements into a single clear voice. Without it, there is only cacophony.

The notion of having a well-defined concept to your work may seem like a no-brainer, but it is actually a very slippery thing to handle. Here’s a sad example: in one feature film I worked on, I had lunch with the director over which it became painfully clear he had no idea what the film was actually about. This was about a year into the production. we’re not talking about some inexperienced student, mind you: the director was a hyper-talented person with 40 years experience in film-making, working with the best and brightest in the industry. Still he was unable to create and maintain a clear, consistent concept. The film, by the way, was canceled about a month after that lunch took place. I wasn’t at all surprised. I’ve seen blurry concepts kill promising projects before.

 

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5 Comments

  1. I know this problem only too well 🙂
    but what can you do to stop yourself from slipping away?

    and how can you do that and still feel free to play and experiment with ideas popping into your head when you least expect? which in my mind are usually the best ones.

    1. Hey, great question – thanks for asking that!

      To me, playing and experimenting is something I try to do before I begin to actually MAKE the thing. If you remember the 4 personas post… I protect the dreamer’s time to play, and the explorer’s time to experiments. But once the maker starts working, I also protect HIS time! I rarely allow the dreamer to jump back in on every little whim. While his new idea might be better, at this stage it would be disruptive and do more damage than good.

      It’s all about orchestrating your inner team, you see. If you had 4 real people doing these four job (which is the case, by the way, in most creative companies), would you really let them interrupt each other this way? For example, would you allow the scriptwriter to jump back in and change fundamental story points while the film is being shot? of course not, that would be crazy – even if the new idea is absolutely great. I’m not saying it’s NEVER done, but at least you need to think long and hard if this is really absolutely necessary, because it’s going to cost.

      Also, after a few changes like this, I think you really tend to lose faith in what you’re doing. Why work hard on anything if there’s a chance that at any given moment, a new idea is going to wipe out everything? I find people who have that pattern tend to procrastinate, simply because they have that constant and nagging self doubt.

      Of course, all of this depends on you really giving the dreamer and explorer the time they need. If you jump in and start “making”, well, you’ve just subscribed yourself to some good ol’ fashioned creative confusion 🙂

      Hope that helps.

  2. I have to say, your answer has really opened my eyes on this issue, this is the 1st time I thought of it this way.

    Yes, I saw the video and it did make a lot of sense, but the example you just gave was probably the final nail in my coffin ( but in a positive way!! :))

    So actually, you need to practice some will power in the creative process and restrain, which is the total opposite to how I looked at it.
    Interesting!! Cheers! 🙂

  3. Hi Doron,

    Can you explain what is the difference between “concept” and “vision”?

    Thanks,
    Rinat

  4. Hey Rinat!

    Confusing, I know… I used to struggle with that myself when I was building the whole CreativityWise method. In the end, what really clarified if for me was the whole idea with the 4 creative personas.

    So: CONCEPT is the end product of the DREAMER‘s work. It’s a raw idea, but not yet a fully developed vision. For example – if you’re writing fiction, the concept could by your logline, or your very brief synopsis. Many things might be missing, you might not even have a real plot – but you have an idea that excites you and seems worth exploring. That’s the concept.

    The VISION is the end product of the EXPLORER‘S work. It’s everything you build around the concept before starting to do the actual work (MAKE). Once the vision is developed, there really shouldn’t be much you don’t know about that project. In the case of writing fiction – the vision is made out of many many story decisions made before the actual writing, and a whole bunch of written descriptions, maps, timelines, visual reference materials, character interviews and everything else that make that story REAL for you.

    Hope it’s clearer now. If not – ask away! Every time I explain it, I understand it a little better myself 🙂

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