Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Best Film You've Never Seen: Robert Elder on Inspiration

I've been writing for a long time (one of the benefits of getting older), and  yet I still struggle sometimes to find subjects to write about.

What usually breaks me out of a funk is when I see or hear something that fires off a neural connection in my brain.  

You never know what it might be.  It could be a word, a song or a story that someone is telling you. As long as you find a subject and then a unique way of looking at that subject, you're on your way.

In the case of  journalist and film critic Robert Elder, his inspiration came after years of talking to master filmmakers like Richard Curtis, Richard Linklater and Danny Boyle

Elder had an idea to write a book where directors were given the chance to defend one movie they thought was underrated or unfairly maligned. The result was his book The best film you've never seen.

After reading the book I spoke to Elder what inspired him to write it.  Here's what he had to say.

"I love movies, always have, and what I love most is sharing good films. It's like when you're in high school and you invite friends to watch something that's obscure, or exposure them to a deep cut in a musician's catalogue. Also: Having done a lot of director interviews as an entertainment journalist, I often found that they were most animated when talking about OTHER people's films."

If you're getting stuck trying to find motivation to spark that creative fuse in your brain, talk to people. Everybody has a different perspective, and everyone has something to offer.

Talk to enough people and the inspiration will come. Jonah Lehrer talks about 'urban interactions' being a catalyst for creativity in cities, and he's right. Put a bunch of interesting people in small promixity to each other, and ideas begin to flourish.

So next time you've got the mental block, step away from the laptop, pull out the ear-buds and go chat to someone.

You'll be surprised what happens.

The Best Film You've Never Seen by Robert Elder is available for purchase HERE

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Big Payback: Hip-Hop, creativity and finding your angle

Dan Charnas, Chino XL & Rick Rubin

If you’re a fan of Hip-Hop or of music in general, and you haven’t read The Big Payback by Dan Charnas, then you are doing yourself a disservice.

It chronicles Hip-Hop from it’s birth behind DJ Hollywood's turn-tables, and follows the tumultuous journey of a marginalized musical genre that exploded in the 90's as a fully-fledged commercial juggernaut.

Like Hip-Hop itself, Charnas is somewhat of a pioneer, as prior to his book there was no definitive chronological history of Hip-Hop.

Charnas is no stranger to Hip-Hop’s creative process, in fact he was running the American Recordings rap department in 1991 and released such notable tracks as Sir Mix-A-Lots ‘Baby Got Back’ and DJ Kool’s ‘Let me clear my throat’.

I asked Charnas about his motivations for writing the book, and whilst his answer was simple, it highlighted a technique that many creative people never consider.

The book demanded that it be written, and I was the only person who wanted to write it!

If you’re having trouble kick-starting your creative catalog, think about the things you enjoy. Is there an aspect of those things that’s unique and worth documenting? 

Dan Charnas found a unique angle by tackling a subject that no-one else wanted to.

How will you challenge yourself? 

Order The Big Payback: The History of the business of Hip-Hop at Dan's website HERE