Talent is a mastery of quantity:
talent doesn’t write one page,
it writes three hundred.

-Jules Renard

“No book will jump off a shelf and request your attention. No idea mounted on a white steed will leap through a window and exclaim. Take me! I’m yours!” Passivity is a cruncher. Owning ideas requires work and success is about hard, hard work.” (HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH? The Importance of Creative Thinking.)

And no idea for a film will appear on a screen without the prerequisite intensity of sustained creativity, passion and perseverance. That urge to originate something of personal significance is bolstered by the joy and commitment of team collaboration and of course, hard hard work. I interviewed The Smith Brothers in October 2017 for my book CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CREATIVITY. At the time, they were involved with the production of their movie,  VOLITION, “a mind-bending, sci-fi thriller about a man afflicted with clairvoyance who tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own imminent murder.” www.volitionthemovie.com

The movie is now complete and its World Premiere took place on March 15. In fact, it was selected as the opening feature for the PHILIP K. DICK SCIENCE FICTION FILM FESTIVAL.

With a warm reception from the jury, VOLITION took home the festival’s top prize, as BEST FEATURE.

Next in April is the PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL:

Friday, April 5 at 9am
Saturday, April 6 at 3:15pm
Sunday, April 7 at 12:15pm
Tickets and Location Details: http://www.phoenixfilmfestival.com


Friday, April 12 at 3:30pm
Saturday, April 13 at 1:30 pm
Sunday, April 14 at 10:10am

Tickets and Location Details: http://www.horrorscifi.com

Here is an excerpt from my interview of the filmmakers, the Smith Brothers (Tony Dean Smith and Ryan W. Smith):

Ellen: Tony and Ryan, you both create independently and also jointly plus you both work with a variety of other creative individuals. There is a difference between creating alone and together, that is, between individual and collaborative creativity. What differences do you see?

Tony: Creativity is such an enigmatic concept and I don’t think there is any one way to go about it. Perhaps, the biggest difference between embarking on something as an individual versus on something that is collaborative is the original spark – the original idea. While many people can jump on board and help build projects, it is the creator’s own unique impulse that is needed to hatch the idea. There may be lots of overlap, but I think what Ryan comes up with versus what I come up with, while perhaps sharing many underlying thematic elements, might manifest differently. As an example, in exploring a theme such as freewill, I might tend to push for something in the science-fiction realm, whereas Ryan might see it through the lens of historical drama. This is a broad example, but one that we see from time to time in our work.

Ryan: When creating alone, one has a pure understanding of the form of any given idea he or she might be exploring. When collaborating, the challenge comes in translating this abstract form into something that can be recognized by one’s creative partner. While having to take this extra step (of articulating the abstract thoughts into something more grounded) may seem like a waste of energy, with Tony and me, it tends to be a very useful part of the process. In order to communicate our ideas with each other, we are forced to articulate ourselves. This process seems to test the ideas. Those that pass the test tend to be resilient, strong ideas – not all of them, but many of them. Of course, there are also those times where externalizing an idea and discussing it, can sometimes lead to the death of a concept that might otherwise have flourished internally, but that’s the risk we take when we collaborate. We also try to honour our internal process so that we’re each given silent introspection time in tandem with our external collaborative time.

Ellen: Do you think that an important element in creating collaboratively is also to have the ability to be a proficient, independent creator?

Ryan: While Tony and I collaborate on many projects, there are various other works that we do, that are solo. I think this does help to strengthen our collaborative relationship.  We both respect each other’s solo work, and are inspired by seeing the new discoveries we each come to. I think that the admiration we have for each other’s independent creations, leads us to truly trusting each other in our collaborations. I know that Tony’s a great storyteller, so I trust him to make strong decisions. And I think he feels the same way about me.  Rarely, do we feel like one person is carrying more weight than the other.  We share the work. By the same token, there are areas where one of us is more proficient than the other. In those cases, that person might take on the lion’s share of that piece, but all the while, we are both striving to improve ourselves so that we can share the weight.

Tony: To use tennis terms, Ryan and I can play singles or doubles. I think this allows us to approach the court of writing with an awareness of the many angles that need to be covered in the game of creativity.  There certainly are areas where Ryan is stronger than I am, and vice versa, but our ability to share knowledge of the various aspects (serving, volleying and completing) is what allows us to develop as writers – which forces us to look at our strength and weaknesses, thereby becoming better individually and within our partnership.