Welcome to the first interview for “On the Creative Couch.” This is my opportunity to ask a range of creative people from different creative fields about what they do, how they do it and how they understand the creative process.
The first guest to the couch is Deane Patterson (@ReceiverITW); film maker, musician, writer, bibliophile and someone who has inspired me for many years.
How do you define yourself as a creative person?
Well, you got it in one. I’ve struggled since my early 20s to put a label on what I do. I have to write something on my tax return, business card, Facebook bio – but lately I’ve given up and tell people I make things up. I don’t get any respect for that, but it’s the truth. I’ve owned “Creative Guys” as a business name for well over a decade now, and while I might not always use it publicly, it is a reminder to me that it’s just about being creative.
The struggle really comes from trying to define myself by what I do, when really it should be about who ‘I AM’ is in my life. What I do should come from who I am – not the other way around, because circumstances, passions and jobs change, but you as a person need to be the anchor point, the launch pad of your ideas.
If all you have is what you do, and that gets taken away from you, you can get really depressed, angry or just plain unproductive really quick.
I have an expression that’s all but tattooed on my heart (I should do it on my hand so I see it more frequently): Reveal The Kingdom. Everything I do is filtered through that. If it doesn’t fit through there, I’m in trouble, as I’ve strayed from my true love’s purpose, and my own heart’s desire.
I spent a year and a bit trying to be a commercial photographer, and one day I woke up and realized I was just in it for the money. I’m still recovering from that nearly a year later, and I’m still a little wobbly – but you have to forget the money and love the people – then you’ll touch lives (and get the support you need to carry on).
All I know is to tell stories and do that through music and video – it’s great that they go together so well – but within that is an infinite scope of possibilities from just 2 ingredients of making a story. And there are a ton of sub skills like writing, sound engineering, lighting, editing, design, publishing (the list goes on) that you work your way through just trying to tell the simplest story with music and moving pictures.
What is your chosen creative medium and how does it allow you to express your creativity?
I shoot stills, motion picture (video if you want to dumb it down), write and record music, write stories and advertising, I’m frequently designing things in Photoshop. I love music and would choose that if I really had to pick one, but I’ll do that when I’m grown up, and for now I enjoy stories and words, particularly as it applies to film.
Can you explain your creative process.
Immersive. Method. Obsessive. Frequently splintered and distracted. I struggle with focus and finishing the most because everything is damned interesting and I keep exploring the tributaries. It’s hard to remember: be the river, not the swamp.
Who or what gives your creativity impetus and direction?
Is this a thinly veiled question about God?
Who has inspired you in your creative journey?
Community. I care more about the encouragement of my family, especially my wife, and friends than a paycheck. My wife is encouraged by the paycheck too – so please, give generously.
What are you currently working on?
A screenplay for a creature feature (giant bugs), short orchestral music compositions (moving out of ambient and into a more symphonic vibe), some short story comps and a couple of submission offers, building a film/music production studio in the new house, a short film with a script based on an award winning stage play.
Long term, I’m hoping to get a timeline of 3 or 4 indie movies underway. Each project is more elaborate than the last so I can get the most experience with the lowest risk. The first film is 4 actors and someone else’s play that I’ve adapted for screen. The next is 4 actors and my script in one location. The one after that is 4 main characters and a lot of bit parts on a lot of locations. And then I’ve got a story with 7 main characters, but back to mostly one location – that project’s really about learning to work with actors more than film production issues – so you can see there is a long term plan there to grow into.
I’m also really into creating music, and sometimes I wonder if the music should come first – you know, which one is the driving force is, and which is the vehicle? I could just make music videos for my compositions and film school would have been worth it. But I really enjoy story telling in all forms, and film seems to put a bunch of things I do in a powerful mix where the sum is greater than the parts.
I once read a publisher being quoted, “Never believe what a creative person tells you what they’re working on. Just believe what they’ve finished.” So I use that as my escape clause.
What I plan, and God enables (because it’s totally dependant on Him) may change as I follow His lead – but that’s kinda the plan. If I change my mind, it’s because I wasn’t’ listening and wandered from the path. It’s been known to happen to creative people.
I’m a wanderer.
How do you see technology impacting or affecting people’s ability to be creative?
It makes it easier for people to get published, distributed, and easier to create stuff. But people are consequently making easier choices and not putting the same level of effort and expertise in.
Any idiot can use technology to get a result – and all their sycophantic facebook friends might even ‘like’ it – but much of what I see in terms of film/video production, photography, music and even writing is crap. And I include a lot of what I’m doing in the crap pile.
My only defense is that I’m learning. Failing forward. Getting better. You should be too. Get better, damn it. When I started in film, you shot film, and it cost literally hundreds of dollars to buy the freaking film, let alone process it. I learned photography the same way – you shot very limited numbers of stills, and didn’t know if you had until it came out of the lab days later, and then you had to print it.
No one got their book published.
If your band had a 4 track recording on cassette, you were awesome – forget making your own CDs, or even being able to record yourself on anything other than cassette.
This has turned into a full on rant – but when we took away all the barriers to entry, and technology made it easy, we slumped back to the lowest forms of using those opportunities.
Those barriers meant you had to work hard for the opportunity to work hard on making something. And it forced the cream to rise.
Work harder, dammit! And learn your craft. Make the effort to improve.
If you are totally dependent on technology as a crutch, then at least pay attention when the little red and green lines start breeding like nymphomaniac rats on your screen. You at least learned spelling and grammar at school you lazy sons of motherless idioms!
What is a piece of yours that is representative of your creative purpose?
I once read a publisher being quoted, “Never believe what a creative person tells you what they’re working on. Just believe what they’ve finished. So I use that as my escape clause.
I have a children’s book published called “The Purple Pirate Pants of Peril” that I’m extremely proud of, and if I could find where it is on my hard drive, I will re-publish. But that’s something that sold well and the target audience raved about.
I get paid for my music, but never get told where it’s being used, and I get very little feedback, so at this point, I’m still developing that. But I do have some music online (http://receiverinthewild.bandcamp.com/ ) that represents what I like to do musically. I find the money keeps the wolves from the door, but it’s feedback that really rewards my ego. And I like my ego. I like to have it stroked.
I’ve not released any of my personal video work that really says what I’m about yet – my best work is so far on other people’s projects – but it’s my goal to address this before I’m too far gone. How about February next year? Maybe.
Anything else to add?
Only God knows who you really are, and if you really want to know, He’s waiting to tell you. And then you’ll know what to do next.
Find Deane on Twitter @ReceiverITW
If you want to be a part of “On The Creative Couch” get in touch with me via twitter @revhappiness or leave a message in the comments below.
Well, That come out less embarrassing than I thought it would.
Thanks for being my inaugural interviewee, Deane. I’ve always found your perspective on arts, media and creativity one that has spurred me on.