dispatch 026 // week 1, day 3 #taketheinitiative
It’s grey here in Brooklyn; I’m cycling through Taylor Swift acoustic tracks and Spotify playlists that promise “deep focus” and “productive morning”.
Let’s jump back to May 2010.
I graduated my MBA program and turned 30 in the same week, while still knee deep in production on Cars 2. Balancing full-time grad school and full-time filmmaking was an exercise in daily disappointment, there was never enough time to do either best. Some days I think I'm still recovering from the ripple effects from the compromises made. Finishing school was a beautiful milestone that offered many rewards... like, more time! What to do with all that calendar space? I had so many ideas.
And so much self-doubt. I worried that without the structure of school, the collaborators, the deadlines, the momentum... I’d spin in my own internal circle. I needed some scaffolding for my post-grad life. My brother and I were always pitching creative projects to each other. Back then Brendan was in NYC workshopping some choreography set to Dolly’s 2008 Backwoods Barbie; I was SF-based and desperate to make films outside of Pixar. We knew we wanted to work together, but we weren’t sure how.
Growing up our parents had a series of businesses. We’re identifiably the children of entrepreneurs: ambitious dreamers who operate with some degree of hard-learned, ingrained risk-aversion. Some of our parents’ ventures were wildly successful and ahead of their time, many also faced financial crises. Bren and I could visualize success, but we also felt the muscle memories of what was at stake when you mix family and work.
We had big dreams of making films & art together... but we needed practice.
Together we devised a system to prototype our creative partnership: Take the Initiative.
The TTI structure:
monthly pre-picked themes
on the 1st of the month, challenge the other to a surprise, on-theme creative challenge
complete the challenge within the month
share your work with others
document your process on a shared blog
We started in June with the theme of LGBT Pride (obvi). Brendan challenged me to do a photo essay exploring “If I were a boy” and to exhibit the work. I challenged him to choreograph a flash mob for gay pride month. Remember, it’s 2010. I’m still pre-transition, flash mobs are still a thing, and Instagram doesn’t exist yet.
And off we went... for six months we kept TTI up. The blog has been lost, at least for now, to digital decay but we did record a 13 minute video reflection that survives as a time capsule to our project and youth. (Kyle pre-T! Bren with hair!) The monthly pace wasn’t exactly sustainable, but I’m very proud that we created a volume of work we wouldn’t have otherwise and along the way devised strategies for working together transcontinentally. With that confidence we set out to produce our first film, Cologne.
Back to now:
Here I am in my Brooklyn apartment, cloudy summer sky outside my window and a sound bed of AC whir underneath the Spotify Singles. Meanwhile, Brendan is living his best sunny life out in LA with the top down. My daily present reality would have been inconceivable to my 2010 self. (The coastal swap especially.)
I’m in prototyping mode again, trying to sculpt the next phase of my creative practice. I said my goodbyes to Discovery last week and am giving myself an eight-week challenge of exploration and self-care to figure out if I can take my own initiative and craft a solo practice.
So it's gonna be forever
Or it's gonna go down in flames...
Thanks Barista Kyle for the last-minute TSwift tickets! She complicated, but damn those songs so danceable. (And she's a master class at spoon-feeding her fans...)
Thanks Rebecca for the ZigZag podcast rec which follows the creation of a new female-led, blockchain-based media company. On a related & belated note, thanks Nushin for putting up with my boozy questioning at SX on how the blockchain could benefit journalism. The best way to learn is to do, so I just registered to purchase CVL tokens when they are released Aug 13. Confused? Check out ZigZag. And Canabis Wire. And Civil. Already signed up for CVL? Want to dive in with me?
Thanks Jessi for leading me to last week's event on "The Future of Animation: AI-Generated Characters." Some mind-warping conversation on the intersection of AI, VR/AR, storytelling... still processing.
About to spend a lot of time in Pennsylvania. Grateful in advance for any recs for Philly, Pittsburgh and the interstate in between.
And, since we're here, am also interviewing for the next full-time gig. Something at the intersection of design, business, strategy, storytelling and doing good for the world...
Is it cool that I said all that?