This is a story about the gift of contrast. Water and desert are used as analogies not labels – I could use, for example, the polar ice caps and the tropics. Water and the desert just work for me.
Imagine you’ve focused your life’s work on the study of water and you move to the desert. Like anyone who has a career specialty, we hive together feeding off each other’s energy, comparing our pails of water. When I moved from Toronto/New York to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I had no idea where to put my bucket.
It’s a beautiful thing to be a stranger in a welcoming place. You must learn to navigate a new space and before you can know where you belong, you have to know where you are.
Now, you may think you know where this story is going. The water/desert metaphor is just too strong and it would be easy to assume that there is an epiphany of the desert needing the water.
Cue the plot twist.
As I look out my big studio windows, my current body of work reads:
- episodic hourly drama series pilot/pitch complete
- reality tv show pitch complete
- two podcasts in development
- national staged project fusing sciences and arts in production
- jewelry design company
- special projects for regional organizations that utilize my particular ‘water skillset’
This has been the most productive time of my entire career. Yes, of course, obviously, there is a lot of creativity and artistry in the foothills of these mountains- that is a given. Yet in learning about this place, I have learned so much about myself. It has redefined my work with a freedom that I did not find while swimming in the ocean with my bucket.
Huh! Plot twist revealed – Turns out that what my study of water was missing, was the desert.
It can start with a phone call ‘Hi, do you have a minute to chat?‘ or an email ‘Hey, not sure how busy you are these days but I have an idea to run by you…‘and I am swept into a story project.
As a Creative Development Producer I bring an artist’s perspective and producer’s strategic opinion to a project. How can this story be creatively told while keeping the logistics and finances in control. What is the best way to develop the production with this particular artist or company, keeping their unique vision at the core?
With this mindset I have been able to bring a concept from idea to the fullest expression of itself regardless of its scope. Whether the Olympic Torch Relay Celebration held outdoors on Christmas Eve to a crowd of 10,000 and a live to air televised audience, or with a single singer/songwriter in the studio recording a new composition, this approach has remained the same. How can I best tell this story? In what medium will it find its voice – is it film, music, dance, written word, television, stage?
Throw out the templates, forge the right connections, build on past experiences and trust your instinct. There is little artistic fulfillment in repeating a set pattern of how to stage a show. Why copy someone else’s method of filming when your individual perspective is so compelling? Yes we begin with certain norms, a set of standard practices, then move from there. Not for the sake of being different, but because our voices are unique.
Finding an audience is the honest indicator of how effective the process of development was. If the book is read or the show’s ratings are solid then the project connected. And the bottom line is that any project I have worked on has required an audience as an indicator of success – financially and artistically.
Typically when asked what I do, I respond with ‘I tell stories’. Telling stories that engage, reveal, enlighten and connect us I believe is the thread that runs through the seemingly disparate productions that have filled my life. It’s a fabulous way to spend the day!