Focus on MDFF: Finding Creativity

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Filmmaker Roger Ungers.

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Written by filmmaker Roger Ungers 

When I think of creativity, I get this image of an artist, such as a painter, being entranced in a romantic moment of expression as they pour their heart and soul onto the canvas with each stroke of their brush. It’s a wonderful image and a tale as old as time. Perhaps this is the ultimate expression of creativity, and so it makes sense to associate this type of artistry with creativity. Is a visual artist the true wielder of creativity?

I then think to myself, “Well I believe that I am a creative person too…” However I am not a painter. I am a filmmaker and photographer (amongst other things). I also enjoy cooking a nice dish every now and then and I often think about the best way to move forward with my documentary filmmaking career. What does this have to do with creativity? 

Through the process of making my most recent documentary film Finding Creativity, I realised that all these things have so much to do with creativity. 

The amount of fulfilment I have received through being creative can be attributed to how I have solved a problem. The problem might be, “How do I create a narrative in my film that is educational, entertaining and will resonate with an audience?” or “This dish I’m cooking doesn’t have enough flavour; how can I make it taste better?” or, “How do I forge meaningful relationships with professionals in the film industry to learn from… and how on earth do I fund my next film?!” 

Finding Creativity.

Solving these problems takes creative thinking and the thing with creativity is that it doesn’t have to be profound… sometimes you just need to think outside the box.

Finding Creativity was quite simply born out of my own curiosity about the creative process… the idea for the film just popped into my head one day, as a “creative spark” you might say. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to see a creative person (like a visual artist) creating something, as we hear them speak about their creative process and all the decisions they make in order to create their unique artwork?” 

I could literally see and hear it in my mind and it looked awesome! 

I put my creative thinking to work, imagining how I could break down the barriers of where and how creativity is used in the narrative. Perhaps one aspect of the film could seek to explain the creative process told by those we wouldn’t initially classify as “creative”. How do they harness it? Where has it come from for them? How does it make them feeI?

I really wanted to distil the idea of creativity, make it less of an enigma and show the diversity of where and how creativity is used. I decided that having a chef, social entrepreneur, singer songwriter and glass artist as the protagonists of my film would bring this theme to life. I also wanted the film to be the catalyst for the audience to discover their own creativity even if they don’t necessarily see themselves as a creative person.    

Although the protagonists in the film are accomplished in their creative achievements, their human stories coupled with the insights of creativity researcher and educator Dr Tim Patston highlight that creativity is in almost everything we do. I think that if you come to this conclusion too, this film has the potential to be really empowering and push you to practice your creativity even more!

We see and hear the creative achievements of others throughout the narrative, and in addition, the film itself is another example of a creative achievement. For that very reason I almost feel that as the filmmaker I too am a character providing an example of how creativity was used to craft the narrative and themes of the story.

Finding Creativity.

It was important to me that the elements of the film encompassed the things that I valued and admired in other films. I love films that are beautifully shot, I love diverse perspectives and films that have characters that people can relate to, who share experiences which resonate with the audience. One of the approaches to creativity that my film highlights is that creative ideas or ‘problem solving’ come from a bunch of ideas that already exists but when you bring them together they create a new idea. When finishing the final edit, it became palpable to me that I had used this apprach in my own film.

Another revelation from the film which resonates with me is that the balance between creativity and time is really important. Creativity often needs to find its ‘sweet spot’, so to speak. If you have too little time (or spend too much time) on your creative thoughts, the work lacks the ability to reach its full potential! I have always believed that “Creativity does not punch a time clock” and it all started to make sense while I was making the film. I subconsciously knew this, I just could not quantify it until I heard it explained in this way. 

Creativity can be hard work but on the other hand, it can be very rewarding. Having said that, we all have our own creative process that may seem easy or hard at the time. To highlight this, the film’s characters share their respective experiences of the creative process which enables the audience to gain deep insight and reflect on their own potential to be creative. 

I have learnt so much through the process of making this film and I hope that the audience will too! There is so much to discover in Finding Creativity and as a filmmaker I think it’s important that you’re always learning and getting excited about the material and stories you seek out.

If you are curious about the creative process, identify as a creative person or are seeking to find your own creativity I would highly encourage you to watch the film. Creativity is all around us. I hope you agree… 

Finding Creativity will be screening as part of the 6th Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. The festival runs from the 1st -31st July 2021 Online and the 21st – 31st July 2021 In-Cinema at Cinema Nova as part of Documentary Month. Details here.

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