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Mark Burke is CEO and founder of mynddset

Super 6/8

By Mark T. Burke

Every so often, we all experience true inspiration.  Yesterday, my wife and I settled in to watch Super 8, the movie by J.J. Abrahms and produced by Steven Spielberg.  I expected the movie to be good, but it was just so, so much more. As the story of a group of teens, who stumble into the middle of a galactic cover up while filming their own short film rolled out, I found myself saying, “Oh…that was BRILLIANT, I love that shot, look at the lighting” and smiling to myself, even during the sad times. The film within the film, the one the kids were making, demonstrates just how powerful creativity and collaboration are.  That’s why I kept smiling.  That’s why I am writing this post.

Without giving too much away, Super 8 revolves around five teens, led by their pal and director, on a quest to make and submit a film to the Cleveland Short Film Festival. And, as we adults know, when kids ban together, it can only mean they’re plotting evil, destined to destroy themselves by doing whatever it is they’re doing. In fact, this was my first take away from the film.  The adults in the film react as we adults are trained.  Film making, as a group, was considered by one of the boys father as trivial.  “Playing with makeup and monsters” is a waste of time.  Doing something constructive and meaningful, like going to baseball camp would be more beneficial for a teenage boy…right?   Teen-based, creative collaboration scares us as adults. 

But, why should we be scared of kids who want to create? The teens in the film portray many great characteristics. How can we apply them to great musical experiences?  We’ll, read on and then, you’ll have to decide.

When faced with technology failures, the kids quickly came up with a backup plan.  After the camera they had been using was broken, they simply found another and continued.  Was the format the same? Was the lens the same?  Would it film at the same quality?  Those are only questions us all-knowing adults would be concerned with.  The kids just moved on…not worrying about the technical aspects.  Their goals was to capture their thoughts on film, regardless of the technical format.  What a great lesson. Technology is an enabler, not an end product.

Each kid had a specialty, and, more importantly, was recognized, praised and VALUED for it.  The kids in the movie clearly recognized their own skills and the skills of the others, balanced against their end goal.  They needed experts in certain fields, but expected everyone to have a general knowledge of the entire effort.  Having focused talents with a narrow vision was not acceptable.  Fantastic. 

In the special features, J.J. offered one of the most memorable bits of reflection on the making of the movie.  “Every so often, you have to forget the pragmatic, react to the situation, go with it, be creative, be adaptive.”  Ok, that isn’t a direct quote, but close.  The special features highlighted just how creative the team needed to be during the making of this film.  We know film making involves planning and execution.  But, what J.J. has done with this film is bring his own experience making Super 8 films as a kid to the big screen.  More often than not, each scene is created on the fly.  Another fantastic lesson on the creative process.  Non-random trials, fine tuning, adapting, are all skills needed to produce a powerful end product.  Kids seem to get that.  They’re closer to the art of PLAY than we adults are.  If left to unfold, the end results can be amazing.

Get the movie, watch it, absorb it.  I found the story within the story within the story guiding.  I hope you do as well.  How can the movie take-a-ways help us provide great music experiences?  Your contribution and input would be fabulous.


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