About Creative Details

I just spent the weekend with someone who works in movies–does SFX and has worked on some pretty impressive films like Star Trek. It was fascinating to get a peek at a different part of the creative world. He showed me examples of his work, from creating animatronics to rigs for flipping cars and dragging burning tankers over cliffs to set dressing he’s done and props he’s built*.

His work is often not obvious in the final film, but that’s as it should be. If you noticed how the elevator worked or the car was flipped, the movie wouldn’t be as good.

And although I’m not sure he would call his work creative, it most definitely is in my book. Figuring out how to make something look real and work as it must, yeah, that’s creative. The traps in Indiana Jones, for example, are as much a part of the story as Indy’s attitude and his hat. If the traps look fake, the movie doesn’t work as well as it could.

Just like if you see the wire in some shot in any film, the experience is lessened. The details, in other words, count.

To add to that, I ran across this article about the clothing in Inception. In it, the costume designer talks about the clothing as an important part of the story-telling process. The details are important. Each item, each choice of collar or scarf, defines the character and, in this case, even reveals clues about the complex story.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but when I read about this attention to creative detail, I feel even more compelled to get my butt in the theatre.

Anyway, back to my point…

Think about how many creative parts go into making a film. Clothing and make up and set design/dressing and SFX and lighting and directing and writing and acting and, and, and… the list is huge. The more attention is given to each of these creative parts, the better the whole is. The more it reaches us, the viewers.

Now, think about the details of your own creative process. Are you taking the easy way on some parts? Are you saying “Oh, I can fix that in post” or “No one will notice that” as you create an image or a prop or a set or casting talent or lighting or, well, whatever? If so, you are cheating your audience but, more importantly, you are cheating your art.

Creating images is your job. Why do any part of it half-assed?


*Btw, if you ever need a prop or set built, let me know and I’ll give you this guy’s contact info. Depending on the scope of the project, the cost can be quite reasonable.

3 Responses to “About Creative Details”

  1. Martha Retallick Says:

    Martha here. I just spent part of last weekend at a manufacturing plant in the midwestern United States.

    Now, you may be thinking that I just visited the dullest, most uncreative place on the planet. And you would be wrong.

    Why? Because this place make things that took a lot of scientific and engineering creativity to devise. And the machines that make it didn’t come from off the shelf at Acme Manufacturing Equipment. They had to be designed and custom-made to the specifications of this plant.

    In short, I saw a lot of creativity in this place. And, no, I didn’t take a single photo. Why not? Because I wasn’t at this plant for the purpose of doing that.

  2. Stephanie Graham Says:

    Great Post Leslie and a great reminder that you have to pay attention to the smallest of details. I work in film and I love finding all the props and set dressings to create a familiar set. When I was on ” The Dark Knight” I had to get bank bags that are filled with money. Its simple but there are tons of different options. When I saw the scene play out in the theatre I didnt even notice them. That was my job, to create the familiar.f I would have bought black bags it may have looked off and odd. In my images I always try to pay the closest attention all the way down to the models/subjects nail color and the way their skin is moisturized. Anything can throw an image off and tell the wrong story.

  3. Stephanie Graham Says:

    Oh yeah! Great interview also with Jeffrey Kurland. Did you see this film yet!! The men look sooo good OW! 🙂