There are 2 major creative tragedies in my eyes:
- Starting a project and not finishing it
- Doing something well that shouldn’t have been done at all
This is why, for me, choosing an idea to move forward with is a big deal. It should be for you too.
In fact, I think many people don’t fully grasp the gravity of deciding to pursue a project. This decision effects your time, attention and your future.
I’m an animation filmmaker, so for me the project I need to choose most of the time is the next film idea. For a fine artist it might be a painting, for a musician it could be her next song or album.
Before I move forward with a certain film idea, I spend a lot of time thinking, researching and testing before giving myself the green light. This process of none-crippling decision making is very important.
What should you ask yourself?
Us creative people often tend to jump to the next exciting idea, or go on a whim/hunch. This could lead to abandoning a project mid-way or creating bad work. Here are a few things I consider before pursuing a project:
- Is this the right time for me to do this?
- Can I finish this in a reasonable amount of time?
- Does this challenge me in a new way compared to my previous projects?
- Is it something I can actually do?
- Does this fit with my style, language and vision?
- Will I be proud to have it in my body of work 10 years from now?
I also ask myself film-specific questions:
- Does the story of the film work?
- Is it consistent with my personality? Am I reflecting my true self through this work?
- Is this what I need to do right now to improve my skills?
- DOES THE STORY WORK? (again)
- Is this going to be worth spending the next year of my life doing?
The last question is the most important one, and it includes within it all the other questions. This brings me back to the tragedies I mentioned earlier. I don’t quit projects mid-way. Almost never ever. That’s why I spend so much time making the decision. Spending half a year making a film just to realize that (a) the story doesn’t work (b) you don’t have the means/budget/skills to do it (c) you’re bored of it, is a horrible horrible tragedy.
Decision making as a form of procrastination
Don’t cripple yourself with the decision making process. I’m not telling you all of this so you can procrastinate on getting started with the work as a form of “still deciding.”
The decision making process should be very deliberate. This is not intended for you to sit around for 5 months pondering the idea and contemplating it to no end. This should be a logical, almost mathematical process of reaching the right conclusion as fast as possible.