Fighting On Multiple Fronts

Taking on more than he can?

When something creative grabs my attention , I’m like a three-year-old on speed (Disclaimer: this is not libel against any three-year-old meth lovers).  I’m taken by an energetic frenzy – I’m excited, impatient and most of all, thrilled.

Having something resonate with me on a creative level gives me the kind of buzz that I just can’t hope to replicate with anything else.

Cheesecake, sex nor beating the ever annoying LeBron James on the NBA 2K video-games cancome close to the feeling of creative wonder. Creative bliss. But there’s a downside to all that energy and beauty.  And that downside is doing too many things at once.

Prior diving into the world of photography and cinematography, I didn’t realize that the human eye can only process a small part of an image. When you stare at a picture that features a wide landscape, your eyes and brain will take in one small part of the image before moving to the next part. The combination of the eye and brain is simply incapable of taking in everything in an image at the same time.

Writing is my first love. I started writing short stories when I was at an age where I thought babies came into the world due to their parents purchasing them in shops (don’t ask).

I continued casually writing all throughout childhood. In my late teens I eventually realized writing wasn’t simply a hobby – it was my life.

And from that moment I wrote, wrote and wrote. Short stories, novellas, novels and screenplays.  I was strictly a writer and embraced it. But my creative impulses (even though I was unaware at the time) reached beyond the pen and paper (okay who am I kidding – I meant the keyboard and screen).

I remember watching films like “Se7en” and “No Country for Old Men.” I remember being awed by the way these films looked and wondering how they did it (not knowing it was a combination of lighting, lenses and colour grading). I remember gazing at photographs of great cities at night and wondering how the photographer made them to be so sharp and defined (not knowing this was the result of High Dynamic Range).

It was only when I delved into the world of cinematography and photography I understood why my favourite films looked like this and why my favourite photographs looked like that. I was hooked. But at the same time, distracted.

I became interested in cinematography and photography at the same time. And during this time (when I transformed into a three-year-old speed lover) I was doing too many things at once. My attention was divided.

I was reading and watching material about photography and cinematography at the same time and it became counter-productive.

It felt like I was the human eye that was trying to take in every detail of a photograph at once. And in doing so, I was unable to absorb anything thoroughly.  I was taking in fragments instead of taking in entire pieces.

When I wrote my attention was always focused on writing. Yes, screenplays are VASTLY different to novels. However, many of the writing principles (characters, story, subtext, setups) remain the same in both mediums. And while photography and cinematography share many of the same principles, there are also a lot of variables that need the closest attention.  And so I decided I would only focus on one.

Some of my photography

I studied and practiced photography for a year. Photography and only photography. After a year, I spent another ten months exclusively studying and practicing cinematography.  The saw and felt the progress I made in both mediums. By not splitting my attention  – by exclusively focusing on one medium, I became the efficient human eye. I was able to absorb many things from one segment before moving onto the next one.

A screenshot from a crowdfunding campaign video I shot for the short film I plan to make

However, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Even today I still feel like I’m trying to do too much at once. I’m in the process of attempting to produce a short film I have written.

Preparation is stretching me thin – being a one man band until I can officially get the project greenlit, I have to cover all the areas myself, from trying to make sure the script is as strong as possible, to marketing the crowdfunding campaign, to the most affordable but capable lighting, to production design, etc. . . Just writing that leaves me short of breath.

Perhaps I’m just intellectually limited. Or perhaps as a man, I just can’t multitask. Can we fight on multiple fronts?

What do you think?