Embrace Mediocrity

Embrace Mediocrity

THE KEY TO PROLIFIC PRODUCTION

Creativity is one of my core values. When resources are scarce that is when creativity is most needed. Being creative is a world of workarounds and shortcuts. Some people would consider this unconventional, nonconformist thinking a sort of cheating. That is until something becomes a commercial success or a transformative change. Then it’s relabeled as “innovative.” Innovation requires an accepting audience who applauds. The applause is money.

But for some, like me, this following quote is appropriate: “Creativity is an alternative to death.” – Jaron Lanier, creator of virtual reality.

Everyone is creative but some people must create or die. I’ve always said, if locked up, I would draw in the dust. Or make art with my blood. Or weave little straw men from fragments of trash.

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Ideas of found art or eco-art always fascinate me. That is repurposing junk and making it into something useful or beautiful. It is like a puzzle.

To force creativity, I often set self-imposed limitations. These create scarcity. To solve the problem required creativity

I want to produce video montage as a form of visual poetry.

Web assets are a catch-all term. For video development, “assets” refer to:

  • text content
  • graphics
  • photographs
  • video clips
  • sound effects
  • music soundtracks
  • voiceover
  • still photography
  • repurposed YouTube videos

For video production, my self-imposed limitations are:

1. Use free open source video and audio editors and software tools.

2. Use open-source Linux computers built from eBay-used parts.

3. Use no-cost or low-cost web assets to produce the videos.

4. Do this production without a camera or microphone or actors.

5. Produce one video per week.

This is a form of rapid storyboarding that allows visual direction. Prototyping a movie or story concept in bite-size chunks of 4 to 7 minutes. I can create a video experience without a huge cost. Iterative design permits low-cost ways to develop story ideas and messages.

There is the value of transforming flotsam and jetsam bobbing around in the waves of the web. The opportunity to transform found object art is ad-lib or improvising. Repurposing bits of unrelated junk into genuine – but fake – art is a poetic journey. It’s a dive into the subconscious world of dreams.

Montage is an art process of arranging different parts to form a blended whole. New meaning is then implied by association and implication. Analysis and synthesis produce a new diagnosis. A new idea or concept is born.

My first video ever was on May 12, 2018. It’s excerpted from a sci-fi story I wrote, “Last Rocket to Planet Longday.” And about 4-minutes long. My son, Levi, and my brother, Brad, both creative people I trusted, told me it was awful and misguided. I used a synthetic robot voice for two voice talents, male and female characters. Brad and Levi thought that was a terrible compromise. It was difficult to make because I didn’t know what I was doing. I jumped into the deep in.

Because of their negative reaction, it discouraged me so much, I didn’t make another video until May 1, 2019. A whole year of avoidance. That video was about a cryptic poem I wrote in 1990. I was about my childhood abuse and my parent’s secrets. That was 9 minutes long and had robot voice talent and my voiceover at the end. it didn’t matter if no one ever watched it. It was about personal healing and tapping into the subconscious mind.

I then did another video poem about a month later, “Don’t Call Me Dear.” Another old poem revived. Since then I made at least 1 video per week.

At this writing, I have over 205 videos. Most are 4 to 7 minutes long. Some are stories of from a half-hour to one hour in length. Each one was an experiment in learning and crafting and feeling.

How did I do it?

I said, “I’m not going to produce beautiful poetry. I am going to produce one poor-quality, low-fidelity video every week. I’m going to embrace mediocrity. I won’t go back and edit after publication. I’m going to crank them out.”

And that is what I did.

Today they fall out of my head. The process becomes more and more transparent to me. On autopilot, I can often produce a video and publish it on YouTube in one night.

My son, Levi, 21, now says some of my videos give him chills. My daughter Lilli, 37, says some make her cry. Good cry. Not, “Wow. That is painful” crying. But that isn’t the goal. The goal is to produce “one Lo-Fi video” per week.

Some creative ideas are so fragile at the beginning we should never share them with anyone. They get killed by real or imagined criticism and disapproval.

I like the line from Dune: “A beginning is a very delicate time.”

And this one: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

It takes courage to move forward on inspiration – alone.

If you have a delicate unproven idea you believe in, never share it. Especially with people you trust. Why? because they’re the ones you’ve given the power to kill your idea with fear and doubt.

So many ideas die infant deaths because we shared them too soon looking for approval. You must act alone until demonstrating an idea’s merit. When a personal witness convinces you; then what others think won’t matter.

It’s hard to restrain ourselves when we have an exciting vision of future potential. It takes discipline to remain quiet. In time, we share the idea because it’s no longer crazy or impossible, or remote. We own it because we’ve done it.

I can’t share all my impossible ideas. Others have too much power to kill my idea immediately. Who gave you that power? I did. Your opinions matter. That is why dismissal hurts.

If God gives you an idea or inspiration, you don’t need to seek human approbation. If you’re uncertain, ask Him again in another way that He can answer with a simple “yes.”

Doubt not, fear not.

Steve Teare
creative director
Dizzy Pictures