Too Many Great Movies

Flying to Utah and Sundance Film Festival
Flying to Utah and Sundance Film Festival
Kevin Pearce, family members and film crew present The Crash Reel
Kevin Pearce, family members and film crew present The Crash Reel
Director, writer and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt present the comedy Don Jon's Addiction
Director, writer and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt presents the comedy Don Jon’s Addiction
Waiting in line for one of the many venues during Sundance Film Festival
Waiting in line for one of the many venues during Sundance Film Festival
The main cast of the movie Stoker; Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska
The main cast of the movie Stoker; Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska

Last week was an intense week. Once again I covered Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and once again it was a week full of strong impressions and great movies. With something in the close range of 200 films being displayed it’s almost despairing, knowing no matter what you will only be able to see a handful of the lot. So you do your best to pick the ones you think will be the best, and you know you will miss some many. But that’s just the game of any film festival. Having done this for almost the tenth time now, we do get better at picking the right ones, but still it isn’t possible to get to all the ones you pick, simply because the puzzle of time schedules and venues won’t fit together. And this time we even slowed down a bit and finally «only» watched a little less than 30 movies. Still enough to make your brain go dead and feel oversaturated, so much that one would think we would have had enough movies for some time. But guess what, I had hardly gotten back from Sundance Film Festival before I put on a DVD…

The whole experience of a film festival is quite exhausting, but it’s also incredible inspiring. You see so much creativity and cutting edge artwork almost on an explosive level that it makes your own creative mind go skyrocketing. It’s truly what Julian Cameron calls replenishing the creative well.

My four favourite movies from this year’s Sundance Film Festival are:
The Crash Reel – A documentary about the almost fatal accident of half-pipe legend Kevin Pearce and his recovery.

Stoker – Probably the best vampire movie I have ever seen. Very subtle, very intelligent and with beautiful cinematography.

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman – A bizarre, dark and beautiful love story, as well as a story about finding a meaning to life.

Don Jon’s Addiction – A hilarious funny movie about sexual archetypes and why relationships often end up being screwed up.

Replenishing the Creative Well

I want to follow up last week’s post about morning pages – which is, just as a reminder, a tool that Julia Cameron describes in her book The Artist’s Way to access one’s creative well and regaining creativity again. But just as important, and as part of the creative development, is to replenish that creative well. While morning pages can be look upon as withdrawals, what Cameron calls the artist date can be look upon as deposits. Every so often we need to fill up the well with new impulses and give ourselves some nice experiences without having to be creative ourselves.

Cameron writes: «Think of this combination of tools in terms of a radio receiver and transmitter. It’s a two-step, two-directional process: in and then out. Doing your morning pages, you are sending – notifying yourself and the universe of your dreams, dissatisfaction, hopes. Doing your artist date, you are receiving – opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance».

The artist’s date is nothing but a treat to yourself. Going to a concert. Enjoying a moment of silence. Going for a walk. Watching a movie. Treating yourself with a nice meal. Visiting an art museum. Doing meditation. The important thing is that is has to be done by you and you only. No friends, no spouse, no kids, no lover, no dog, no colleague is allowed to come along. It’s a date with the artist within you, and only the two or you. Your inner artist needs to be taken out, to be pampered with and listened to. It doesn’t even have to cost anything. If you are running love on money, take a solo trip to the beach, visit a great junk store, make yourself an omelette or watch an old movie. It’s not about money, it is the time commitment that needs to be fulfilled. An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. For both the morning pages and the artist date to work, you need to do it consistently over a longer period. Just as you need to write those three morning pages every day – every day – you need to treat yourself with an artist date every week – every week.

Cameron again: «As artists, we must learn to be self-nourished. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak».

So go out there and have some fun. And know that it’s only doing good for your creative self. As a matter of fact it’s necessary.

This is all I will talk about The Artist’s Way this time. If you would like to know more about making your creative self blossom, have a look a Cameron’s book. As for myself I have a whole week of artist date ahead of me. As I am writing this I am in Park City, Utah. It’s during Sundance Film Festival, so I am in for a lot of movies the next week – and hopefully some powder skiing, too.

Finding the Creative Well

It might sound a little strange, me being a photographer that is about to recommend anyone who is working creatively, to start writing. Because that is exactly what I am going to do – and I am going to recommend it even for photographers and other non-writers – yes, even if you think you can’t write. It’s about getting in touch with the enormous creative well that dwells within us all, but at times seems to be completely gone or empty. We all have days or weeks or even longer periods of time when we seem to be creatively stuck. Our imagination seems to have vanished, we can’t get anywhere, and we feel paralyzed. Writers talk about writer’s block, but it happens to everyone who is working creatively. A photographer might just as well talk about photographer’s block, a painter about painter’s block, a musician about musician’s block, and so on; name you creative field and the block follow suit.

The question is; why is that some days the creative well seems to have completely dried out, and, more importantly, how can we get access to it again? Because it isn’t really dried out, it seems empty only because we have lost sight of the source. What happens is only our own censorship that cuts the connection with the creative well. When we start to think «it’s not good enough», when we start to doubt our own creativity, that’s when the creative well starts to dry out – or seems to dry out. We are simply victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic that resides in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive and negative remarks that are often disguised as the truth.

In her book The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron talks about the Censor. «The only sentences/paintings/sculptures/photographs the Censor likes are the one that it has seen many times before. Safe sentences. Safe paintings. Not exploratory blurts, squiggles, or jotting. Listen to your Censor and it will tell you that everything original is wrong/dangerous/rotten», she writes.

I have referred to Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way before, simply because I think what she has to say about regaining one’s creativity and setting it free, is among the best ever written about the theme. Her book is actually a twelve week program for recovering of the creative spirit. She describes two tools for getting in touch with one’s creative well. First of all what she calls morning pages, which is daily unconscious writing, and the artist’s date, which is a way of filling the well again – and which I will write more about another time. For now I am just going to stick to the morning pages. It’s an incredible strong tool to make you dig into your inexhaustible well of creativity – even if you believe you cannot write.

Morning pages are in essence very simple. It’s three handwritten pages every morning as the first thing you do after waking up. You just sit down and write whatever comes to your mind, without consciously thinking, or without any censorship. Whatever pops into your mind gets down on the paper. It has nothing to do with art or good writing, but just streaming you mind onto paper. If nothing comes to you mind, then you only write «nothing comes to my mind» until you have filled three pages. As Cameron writes; «The morning pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the paper and writing whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included».

The whole point is to retrieve you creativity. Morning pages get you to the other side; the other side of fear, of negativity, of your moods. Above all, they get you beyond your Censor. It actually works and I can only recommend you to give it a try. Not only a couple of times, but every day – I mean every day – for a longer period of time. Months. The one only rule, is not to skip a day. It works. After a while you start to see yourself, discover beauty within yourself, feel inspired. You are beginning to connect with your inner creative well again. Try it out! And more so I strongly recommend reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Camero – and try her twelve week program. Reconnect with your creative well.