How To Fight Periods Of Not Feeling Creative?

December 6, 2018

Robbie, Joey, and Pat answer a member's question about how to handle periods of feeling creatively empty in the color grading suite?


From The MailBag Episode 61

Creatively Stuck…Help!

We’ve all been there.

You look at the screen and the shot, or scene in front of you, and have no idea what to do.

The truth is, as creatives, colorists and to be blunt – people who give a sh*^ about doing a great job , that feeling of being stuck creatively sucks.  In this edition of the From The Mailbag, we discuss a question from Mixing Light member Brian:

Hi Mixing Light!  Love the site, I’m learning a lot, but I had a quick question for you guys.  I’m really struggling with how to handle bouts of not being creative. I find myself just staring at the screen and not knowing what to do with a shot, a scene, or the entire film! And half the time when I get started I end up hating what I’m doing. More and more I’m feeling like it’s related to fact I use the same tools over and over.   How do you guys handle periods of not feeling creative with your color work?

Great question, and one that we get in various ways quite a bit.  In this installment we’re also joined by Mixing Light contributor Joey D’Anna who fills in while Dan is away on his honeymoon!

The Same ‘ole Tools?

One of the things Brian asked in his question is does using the same techniques and tools day in and day out affect his feeling of not feeling creative?

We discuss if using the same tools might contribute to a static creative feeling and agree as a group, that yes this can contribute, but Patrick has an interesting take  – restrict your tool set to a subset of tools and break through creative blocks by using just those tools – it’s an interesting strategy for sure and one I think I’ll employ the next time I have a creative block.

Starting Over & Taking Time

As our discussion continued, Joey suggested an often used approach – experiment and reset if the grade is not working.  This can be a tough approach to stomach especially if you’ve done a ton of work, but sometimes it’s the only solution to break through a creative block.

Time is also an important part of the creative process.  Robbie conveys a story about artist Marcel Duchamp and how a lot of his best pieces (and most creative) took decades to create.  In terms of color correction, this means taking time to experiment with a look, coming back the next day or even a few days later with fresh eyes to evaluate and work on a project – this approach can pay huge dividends.

Client Feedback, And Support in the Creative process

Color is, of course, a very subjective thing.

One of the things that can lead one to a creative block is not treating the client as a creative partner.  Yes, its hard to believe (trust), but clients have great ideas and know their projects way better than you most of the time.

Treating clients as creative partners and sounding boards for how to move a grade forward is a great idea.  If you do, you’ll often be surprised with how clients can push you forward, challenge you, and inspire ideas for your grades.

Related is the idea of having a creative support network – people you can bounce ideas and problems off. For me –  Joey, Pat, Dan and a few others are my network.  Their understanding and honesty is an important thing to me when I have periods of not feeling creative.

Do You Want Team Mixing Light To Answer A Question?

Remember, if you have questions that you’d like to get an opinion on please use the contact form.

Your questions can be aesthetic, technical or even client related. We’d love to hear from you, and your question might make future episodes of From The MailBag.

Enjoy the MailBag!


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