Category: Thoughts on Creativity
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By Grant Baciocco
Recently, I have started to become really fascinated with failure. It kind of started when I was reading the Jim Henson Biography by Brian Jay Jones. Of course, failure is the furthest thing that you think of when you think of Jim Henson. He created The Muppets, for pete’s sake! I know this, but I was totally fascinating with the projects he attempted to get going before, and even after, creating The Muppets. One of my favorites is a pilot he shot in 1962 called Tales of the Tinkerdee.
This was a half hour pilot for a puppet TV show that was geared at both adults and kids. A very early pre-cursor to the type of show The Muppet Show was when it began airing. Fun for all ages. Jim shot the pilot, in Atlanta I believe, and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube. It’s fun, filled with puns and mistaken identity, but it never went anywhere. Jim reused some of the elements of Tales of the Tinkerdee in future productions and even tried to remount the show in a different format, but it never gained any traction. An interesting side note is in this production, Kermit played a wandering minstrel and he wore a spiked collar for the first time. The collar he’s had ever since.
Currently I’m reading The Moose that Roared by Keith Scott. It is the story of Jay Ward who created Rocky & Bullwinkle, Peabody & Sherman, Dudley Do-Right and so on. I was surprised he had a lot of projects that turned out to be non-starters as well. For a long time he wanted to do an American Bandstand type show but with jazz musicians. He couldn’t ever get it made. Part of the reason it never saw the light of day was that he came down with a crippling bout of agoraphobia that made him practically unable to leave his house. He still created while suffering from it, but he was unable to make it to important meetings to help try and get his ideas made.
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 creator Joel Hodgson. Joel has often talked about releasing a coffee table book that chronicles all the projects he and his brother Jim have pitched over the years that never saw the light of day. It’s amazing to me that they have enough of these projects to fill a whole book!
No, I’m not interested in all these failures because I get some sort of morbid joy out of it. I find these failures inspiring. Tales of the Tinkerdee didn’t make it, but Jim went on to create The Muppets. Jay Ward didn’t get his jazz show on the air, but he went on to create Rocky & Bullwinkle. Joel Hodgson has enoug projects that never made it to fill a coffee table book yet, he still created Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
To me, this shows that if one project doesn’t make it, you don’t pack it all in and give up, you keep creating. Who knows? The projects after your most recent failure might be the next Muppets or Rocky & Bullwinkle or Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media
It’s so good, I want to hate it.
Do you watch Bob’s Burgers on FOX? I got to the show late, probably third season, but it really is a fun show and it really makes me laugh.
One of my favorite moments is when 9 year old Louise goes to a concert with her older sister Tina to see the boy band/One Direction rip off Boyz 4 Now. The entire trip to the concert Louise is ragging on the band and even through the first part of the concert, she’s giving her sister grief about it. But then the Boyz 4 Now member Boo Boo takes the stage and Louise is instantly smitten which leads to this hilarious line…
Besides being hilariously funny, I think we have all felt this feeling or something like it. She’s so in love with Boo Boo but she knows it goes against everything she’s said up to that moment to love him because, in her mind, she’s supposed to hate Boo Boo. So, she combines the two feelings (love/hate) into one. “…he’s so gorgeous. I just wanna slap it, I wanna slap it, I just wanna slap his hideous beautiful face.”
I found myself in a similar situation this week when I stumbled upon the web series Paint By Monster. It’s a web series hosted by a monster puppet monster named Easel Monster and he teachers art and art principles to kids (and adults).
I had seen mention of it on Twitter and checked out and, honestly was not expecting much. From the opening song, though…I was hooked. I loved everything about it. The style, the puppet, the character, the way it is for kids but has an adult edge to it. It really captivated me. There are four episodes of the show out and I’ve watched them several times each. I want to know how every shot was accomplished. Is it a miniature set, if so, how? It’s just really fascinating to me. I would not be surprised at all if we hear about Paint By Monster being picked up and produced as an actual TV show. It’s that good.
It’s so good. It’s so good, I just want to slap it!
Making a web series is not a competition, theres enough bandwidth for us all. But this show was so good, I instantly loved and hated it. Hated it only because, in my opinion, my productions (Uncle Interloper, etc) are nowhere as good as Paint By Monster. Do I want it to fail, no. In fact I’ve promoted it heavily on my Twitter accounts. Do I wish the creator harm? Absolutely not! It’s just one of those things where I know my limitations and, watching this, I know that I can’t do it as good.
The show has a style and I think that’s something my creations lack. A sense of visual style. That’s because while I feel I do come up with good scripts and characters, I lack a sense of visual style. For example, where were putting together Stanley & JAX for Nerd-ament, Russ hit on them both having the same basic colors. That would have never occurred to me. Paint By Monster has such a great visual style and it frustrates me that I couldn’t do something that great.
The thing is though, the show inspires me. It shows me what a good, engaging web series can be and it gives me a goal to strive for. And I will.
So, please go watch Paint By Monster. He deserves your time. You will enjoy it.
And Easel, if I ever meet you, I promise not to slap you.
I love all the episodes released so far of Paint By Monster, but if the opening song in this one doesn’t make you smile, you’re taking life way too seriously.
How I got where I am.
I’m always a little leery of comments from people I don’t know here on the blog or my dwindling social media accounts. A lot of time they are spam and I’m always skeptical if something is genuine or not. The other day, this comment came in on one of my Instagram pictures:
Please email me; I’m young, ambitious, and curious. I want to know how you got where you are. (EMAIL REDACTED)
I clicked through to the account and it seems like a real person, but even if it’s not, I gave his question some thought. What advice would I tell this young, ambitious and curious kid?
I would tell him to find some masters. Some heroes. Find what makes him laugh, what entertainment he ‘gets’ and then pursue those people as much as possible. Now, by pursue, I don’t mean stalk them, I mean read about them, get your hands on everything they’ve produced. Study them. See if you can capture what about what they are creating captures you. Never stop studying these people and search out new ones. Always be on the lookout for people who inspire you.
Once you’ve done that for some time, start creating. Create your own stuff. Don’t wait to try and get someone to produce your stuff, start producing it yourself. And keep producing it. Build up a body of work and keep on working. This is THE best way I know to get noticed and achieve your dreams.
People always ask me how to be come a Jim Henson Company puppeteer. I always say they way to NOT do it is to show up at the front gate of The Jim Henson Company with a puppet on your arm. Don’t corner Brian Henson in a restaurant and make him talk to your hand. The best way to become a Jim Henson Company puppeteer is to learn the art of puppetry by creating your own puppet projects. Forget Henson, just keep working on your own projects. Build up those skills. Build up that body of work. Henson will notice you if you work hard enough.
A perfect example of this is my friend Conner Asher of Creventive Studios. He’s doing exactly what I said above. He’s not waiting for Henson or Sesame Street to give him a job, he’s busy creating his own work. And he’s pursuing it, seemingly, twenty four hours a day. I have no doubt that if he continues working as hard as he is right now, he will wind up doing great things. I also have no doubt, I’ll be working for him.
Be so good they can’t ignore you. – Steve Martin
Finally I would say, you asked me how I got where I am. In my mind, I’m nowhere. I’m certainly not where my dreams want me to be and because of that, I keep working. I work as hard as I can on the projects I’m passionate about and I don’t stop because I’m not where I want to be.
I hope this helps. If you are real, and I apologize for doubting you if you are, I hope this helps.
Creative Mondays #057 – Fight.
NOTE: This is the final Creative Mondays post. Thanks for the support.
Time and time again on this blog we have talked about how creating is not easy. Every piece of art that exists in this world is here because the artist who created it fought tooth and nail to bring it into the world. When you think about it, creating a piece of art has just about EVERYTHING stacked against it ever being created.
First of all, there is the simple act finding the desire, time, energy, fortitude to even begin the project. It is super hard to get a boulder rolling. Taking that first step, starting can be a Herculean effort for many, many people. I wonder how many great works of art, in all fields, we have missed out on simply because they remained as an idea in someone’s head? For whatever reason, they didn’t take that first step and start. The idea never stood a chance. It is only by taking that first step can we begin to bring the piece of art into being. Those who fight and fight hard and actually take that first step are the true creators.
Once you’ve started, things may seem easier but, depending on how you look at it, things can become more difficult. The bolder is rolling, yes, but your pushing it uphill. Once you’ve begun time becomes a factor again. Will you have time to work on the project? Will it take weeks? Months? Years? And if so, will you stick with it? Once you’ve begun is also when the critics come out. The people to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, or that you should do it a different way. Or the most vile critic of all, your negative brain. The voice in your head telling you that what you’re doing is not good, will never be any good, fixates on every minor mistake, tells you to just give up. You must fight against all these obstacles and continue to create, what you know deep down in your heart, is worth fighting for. To bring your vision into reality, you need to fight the entire time.
If you don’t fight, you will not create. It is that simple. True, some ideas may be worth fighting for more than others. It’s up to you to pick your battles. It is also true that some fights will be easier than others. A project can inspire you down to the core and you won’t have to fight to get it done. The fun of working on it will quiet the negative brain and you will, seemingly, create with ease. Do not be fooled. You’re still fighting though, because it’s much easier to do nothing, than to do something.
Lots of people have ‘great ideas.’ A lot of these ideas will never see the light of day because the people who have them are willing to fight to get them done. They feel that just by talking about them, someone else will take the reigns and make their idea a reality. These people will be right there when the rewards come in and they’ll want half, for their ‘idea.’ As artists we know that it is not just about the idea, it’s about doing the work that must be done. It’s about fighting.
So, here’s to the fighters. Those who believe in their art so much they will fight until they are broken, bloodied and exhausted to bring their art into the world. Creating is hard. Always fight.
Have you every had to really fight to get a project done? Tell us about it in the comments below. Have a great week!