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How to get inspired as a creative/filmmaker

Welcome back to the Alex Makes VR podcast. In today's episode, we’re gonna talk about how you can get inspired as filmmaker. If you're anything like me, you probably go through really extreme peaks and troughs of feeling super creative and super inspired and loads of ideas buzzing around your head and then other months where it just seems like nothing you do brings any kind of creative stimulus, your ideas are waning, you're recycling the same ideas. It's really frustrating and there's something really simple that we may be overlooked that we can do to stay inspired, and rejuvenate that creativity as filmmakers. So that's what we're going to talk about in today's episode. Before I dive into that, though, I just want to take a second to say thank you so much to everyone that reached out to me after last week's episode, I know I was really flat and I thought it was really important for me to record that podcast episode when I was feeling super down super low, not my usual high energy self. And just to show you that I too, am human and we all go through these cycles of being unmotivated.

We always we all go through these cycles of feeling a bit despairing and a bit down and that's okay. That's just the nature of life, right? But we're back at it this week and I really appreciate all of you that reached out. So thank you so much.

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Alongside these episodes, I send out a newsletter to give you the overview, the biggest tips and takeaways from the episode, if you want to sign up to that you can do so at alexmakesvr.com. So most of you listening will be experiencing some kind of Groundhog Day right now, we’re in a super weird time. Most of us are locked in our houses, and even if you're listening in a country that isn't in full lockdown, you're probably doing way less new and exciting and different activities than you usually would. Right? I mean, just think about it, our years are usually made up of going to new events, going to new workshops, going out just on random trips, random days out, especially if you're someone that works on location, maybe you get sent to lots of different places, you're constantly experiencing new stimulus usually. But right now, it's a bit it's a bit Groundhog Day, isn't it? It’s a bit like Same old, same old, it's a bit old days blurring into on and that can feel that can wreak havoc on your creativity. And if you're anything like me, you probably feel very, very uninspired, because I mean, life is pretty mundane at the moment. But have no fear because I found that whenever I get into these kind of ruts with creativity, and especially now when it's not necessarily possible to just go and do something new and random to spice things up a bit. What I tend to do is, I audit everything that I'm kind of paying attention to online, I switch my browsers into incognito mode and go to YouTube and see the random stuff that it suggests, I go to Netflix and instead of logging in on my profile, I log in on my older brothers who's got very different tastes in TV and films, to me. I might, you know, go on Spotify and look for a random playlist, someone's music that I would never pay attention to or not the kind of music that I would listen too. I would go and see what new podcasts are in the top 10 charts in a category, that I would never usually listen to. These are all ways of expanding your interest and getting new stimulus and new ideas without leaving your home and that's really what this comes down to. Because ultimately, the only way you ever really get inspired is if you kind of like constantly introducing new things to your life. if you're constantly seeing the same thing over and over. Of course you're not going to be inspired because it's real difficult for your brain to magic up some new idea or to kind of take inspiration from something when you've seen it for the1,000th time. So maybe you won't get to go out and physically see somewhere new or change your environment, although if you're rocking a VR headset, obviously, you can physically change your environment, which, funnily enough wasn't on my list. But now I'm rambling about it, it sounds like a pretty good idea as well. Going into new kind of spaces in VR, putting yourself out of your comfort zone, basically do the opposite of what the algorithms want you to do. So for me, like I say, what I do, and what I've been doing this last week, because I knew that I was in a rut. I knew, I mean, anyone who listened to that last episode will know that I was just feeling super demotivated, super energised, super low, and I just couldn't bring myself to like, feel anything other than just I just want to slop on this sofa and I want to watch this TV show for the 7000th time and it's not even a new TV show. It's a TV show that I've watched several times before, just because it's new, and it's familiar, and what I realised was no wonder I'm not in the mood to rewrite this script, or no wonder I'm not in the mood to make new exciting content. No wonder I'm not in the mood to expand my kind of mindset and feel like I'm doing anything and making progress because all I'm doing is repeating the same things over and over and don't get me wrong, there is something to be said for having a routine. And there is something to be said for repetition when it comes to progressing in an area. But as a creative, we need new experiences and if we can't get those experiences physically at the moment, the only thing we can do is change our digital environment.

So yeah, go against the algorithm, they know your personality, they are basing your suggested films, your suggested YouTube videos, even the stuff that's showing up on your social media feed is curated for you specifically, based on years of data that they've got on you. So it's really hard when you know, you want some new stimulus and you go on YouTube and it's just suggesting the same kind of videos that they know you already like, it's really difficult to learn anything new, it's really difficult to kind of break outside the echo chamber and be inspired.

It made me laugh Actually, I was having a conversation with a friend the other week about how I really love watching Matt Davella on YouTube, I'm really into the kind of minimalism self development, YouTube space, but it's really funny, because once you've seen one of them, one of the youtubers and one of their videos, you've kind of seen them all, because they're all the same. They're all the same looking guy with the same grey t shirt and they have the same formula to their videos, and they talk about exactly the same stuff and it's amazing, because obviously, I really like that stuff. So I'm a sucker for it. I will watch five videos that are all on the same topic just slightly slightly different. And, you know, that's about I mean, I'm a sucker for the algorithm clearly but now my YouTube algorithm is gonna feed me lots of that, where really what I need is, I need some new stimulus. I need to watch, you know, a random up and coming young spoken word poet that's talking about Arduino Frog spawn or something random, I need new inspiration. Because whenever you do kind of break out of the echo chamber whenever you do, and obviously it's hit and miss but when you do start to pay attention to what other people are doing, you can get inspired and kind of bring it back into what you're excited about and what what you want to focus on as a creative. So if you're a photographer, let's run with the nature theme, If you're specifically interested in creativity, with the subject of nature, maybe instead of surrounding yourself with all of the same stuff that nature photographers or videographers are doing, maybe you need to break out and go pay attention to product photography, and maybe some of the tips and tricks that you will learn from some of the product photographers or videographers will then kind of play into your photography. And now all of a sudden, you're going to do something that none of the other nature photographers are going to do because you're taking inspiration from a totally different area. We see this all the time with new genres being made in the filmmaking world, like most notably that comes to mind is tangerine, a film made by Shaun Baker, I think is name is Sean Parker, Shaun Baker, something like that and it was a it was a film that was most notably shot on iPhone. That was the kind of big marketing, I guess thing behind, why it was so well…not necessarily why it was so successful but It was a brilliant film. But it got a lot of press because it was one of the first feature films ever shot on an iPhone but what I found interesting about that film, it was this kind of interesting blend of like, mumble core and mockumentary reality style TV filmmaking, it was kind of this surreal blend of everything in a narrative film shot on a phone and I found that fascinating. And I thought, I wonder if he's, you know, paid attention to all of these different kind of styles of filmmaking from different genres and then brought them into his own process, rather than doing what he very easily could have done, which is just the same kind of filmmaking that any independent filmmaker does, you know, the classic, slightly longer shots than you need so that you can get a bit of that kind of face acting going on and lots of space for you to think and, you know, quite simple scenery. I mean, I'm really really generalising, I realise that but you know what I'm saying, the Oscar bait, as we call it, or the festival baits, shall we say, but even just something like I don't know, if you've watched the TV show succession, phenomenal TV show. I remember watching that and thinking - oh, that's so funny. I've not seen a really serious drama, filmed in the same kind of way that they film like documentaries, like the office, or Parks and Rec, Modern Family, where they kind of use this…It's a drama, but they're pretending it's a documentary and you know, it's into spliced with characters talking to camera, and that kind of like shaky handheld reality show on the fly, following them around that kind of camera style, which has become kind of synonymous with that kind of genre of like sitcom now being applied to a really serious HBO drama, that kind of, almost like, you are the camera crew following around this ridiculous family. But it's so serious ,that really instantly stood out to me, because I was like, I've not seen that done before. And, you know, maybe it has been done before but it's really interesting when you see those blends kind of come together. And again, maybe the director of that has been inspired by that genre and that's kind of bled in anyway. You get the point, I'm sure.

So what I would challenge you to do, and what I'm challenging myself to do for the next week or so, is put your browser in incognito mode, maybe even set yourself up a fake social media account, I've got a fake Instagram account now where I follow just random accounts, it's nothing to do with anything that I would normally pay attention to. Just to get this new stimulus. Another thing you could do is ask your like friend, someone that you know, has really different tastes to you to suggest you YouTube videos? Can you suggest some podcasts? You know, have you seen any films recently, and even if you know instinctively, I'm not going to like this, I really encourage you to take the time to do it, even again, even if it's just for 5 to 10 minutes. Or even if it's just, you commit to it for doing a little bit just for a week, just to see what else is out there and I feel like you'll be as a creative, your mind will be kind of set on fire with that new stimulus and who knows where that might lead? Who knows what ideas that might spark? And you might find yourself just kind of getting a bit of that momentum back. That's certainly been the case for me.

So that is my tip for getting inspired. I hope that you enjoyed that. Let me know how you get on? Let me know some of the most random stuff that you come across in your pursuit of new inspiration. I'll be back next week, as usual and I'm also going to start releasing episodes that are showing you the kind of progress the behind the scenes of Bad News, my newest VR drama that has been funded by the British Film Institute. So loads to look forward to, where we're really gearing up now in 2021. Let me know, reach out if there's anything that I can help with? If there's any advice that you need any questions or subjects you want me to talk about in future episodes. Generally I just love talking to people. So that's a huge part of why I wanted to do this podcast is, connecting with like minded people. So I always love to hear from you.

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