!nsp!re – Getting The Details Right (or It’s Okay To Be A Crazy Control Freak)

One of the most unique films I saw last year was Grand Budapest Hotel. It was filled with all the oddity and quirkiness you’d expect from a Wes Anderson film. Wes truly embraces that film is a director’s medium; and his specific perspective and style permeates every frame. What I love most about his films is the borderline-obsessive attention to detail. From how the shots are composed to the music choices to the color of the teapot far off in the background, Wes treats each decision about each detail as an important one. I respect and admire that sort of attention to craft that many artists possess.

That tireless pursuit of getting the smallest detail right is something I strive for (and sadly, don’t quite achieve many times) in my creative life. I’m of the mind-set that it’s okay (indeed, necessary) to sweat the small stuff. Now, mind you, I’m not talking about breaking a nail or spilling your morning coffee; of course, those things happen and we have to let them go (and quickly). What I’m talking about is how we create.

Finishing The Hat by Stephen Sondheim
Finishing The Hat by Stephen Sondheim

Broadway and film composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim states in his book, Finishing The Hat, “God is in the details”. And he’s right. Every single musical note of every single musical instrument has to be selected; then paired with every single word and note that is to be sung. Every decision you make informs and effects every single decision downstream of it; so caring about the details enough to get them right can seem like a monumental task. But when you care deeply enough to make each small detail correct, it can bring a you sense of peace.

Taking care of the details in my own creative life allows me to see when the work is “finished”. There have been numerous times I’ve endlessly fiddled with a show I’m lighting. Often, it’s in the pursuit of narrowing down the list of details that have yet to be addressed. In my work, those notes often come from others (a director or producer, perhaps), but I always have a running list of details I need to complete before I can walk away from the work with a sense of satisfaction. Sometimes it never gets there, and I walk away unhappy with the piece. It’s in those times that I try to figure out what didn’t work.

To be clear, I’m talking about constructive self-examination; not beating yourself up. Putting yourself through the wringer is an unnecessary and unproductive diversion in which far too many artists indulge.

On those occasions when I do have the opportunity to truly get the details right, the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of “completeness” is truly fulfilling. So if you’re one of those insufferable goobers that annoys your friends and co-workers with your relentless attention to detail, just know you have lots of company and that it’s okay to sweat those small details; just like Wes.

If you’d like to see some of Wes Anderson’s attention to detail, check out the book, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Book) by Matt Zoller Seitz
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Book) by Matt Zoller Seitz

And then checkout this tumblr site that collects color palettes from many Wes Anderson films and puts them together in one place.

Tumblr Site - Wes Anderson Palletes
Tumblr Site – Wes Anderson Palletes

!nsp!re – A Chorus of Volunteers

I recently lit the 25th Anniversary of the South Cost Chorale at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. SCC is a chorus based in Long Beach, CA. One of the unique qualities that sets them apart is that they aren’t a gay chorus, or a straight chorus for that matter. They are open to anyone and everyone who enjoys (and wants to sing) choral music. I realize that, in this day and age, choral music is a somewhat tough sell; and it’s to their credit that they (and other choruses similar to them) are celebrating milestones of longevity.

South Coast Chorale (Photo: Joey Inigo)
South Coast Chorale (Photo: Joey Inigo)

I was asked by the producer to light the anniversary concert. Knowing that the chorus is all volunteer, I understood I was to be donating my time as well. These gigs are always easier/more fun if you’re surrounded by people you know so I asked two friends of mine to join me as programmer and assistant designer. They,  too, donated their time, as did the stage managers and other production personnel.

I do a few events like this every year; and I’ve been asked why I volunteer to do something I would normally get paid to do. The answer is: I respond to passion – to people who do something for the sheer joy of doing it. The other reason is, quite frankly, I’m not good with the conventional methods of volunteering; so this is a small way that I can actually offer something of value.

South Coast Chorale (Photo: Joey Inigo)
South Coast Chorale (Photo: Joey Inigo)

The volunteer environment is fueled by everyone’s genuine desire to be there; and that the purpose for being there is contribute something. In this case, it was their voices. Their voices, raised in song, to celebrate each other and their community. Their producer and their artistic director are both passionate about the group and what they can do; and the outlet it offers both the singers and their audience. How can you NOT respond to the powerful pull of passion?

South Coast Chorale (Photo: Joey Inigo)
South Coast Chorale (Photo: Joey Inigo)

Volunteering has also been proven to carry a number of benefits. Obviously, you can make new friends and contacts, allowing you to connect with people whom you might not normally meet. It can help increase your self-confidence and can combat depression as well as lower symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease. It can provide career experience to someone young, who is building their resume; teaching you valuable job skills. Perhaps most importantly, in many volunteer situations, you are helping others or contributing to something larger than yourself – both of which result in increasing happiness in your own life.

Of course, everyone is busy, and finding a way to incorporate volunteer opportunities into a busy schedule is not without its challenges. But I believe the benefits are entirely worth the sacrifice.

If you’re interested in volunteering, there are a lot of organizations out there who utilize volunteers. Animal shelters, rescue organizations, youth groups and sports teams, libraries, senior centers, museums, and community theaters are all great places to start looking.

!nsp!re – A Creative Evening at Meeting of the Masters

I recently had the opportunity to be involved in a panel discussion on the current state of special events, produced by the Las Vegas chapter of the International Special Event Society.

Joining me on the panel were Eddie Zaratsian, creative director for Tic-Tock Couture Florals; Chad Hudson, president of Chad Hudson Events; Doug Miller, president of Zen Arts; and Pauline Parry, president of Good Gracious Events.

I arrived and began to enjoy the open bar and delectable goodies laid out for the attendees at LAVO Italian Restaurant & Lounge at The Palazzo. LAVO has changed quite a bit since the last time I was there a couple years ago for the launch of the Martin RUSH line of lighting fixtures. The space has been transformed from a raucous nightclub into a sumptuously decorated lounge. Leather sofas and chairs, pillows, books, and beautiful art abound, giving the space a luxurious club vibe. After a brief welcome and raffle drawing, the panel took the stage.

LAVO Lounge
LAVO Lounge

Moderator Michael Brown (with Hello! Las Vegas) introduced us and then began asking questions on topics that ranged from new and emerging  trends to the costs of doing business. We discussed the international market, how to educate clients on the costs of their events, and how to diplomatically say “no”. We fielded several questions from the attendees and had a wide-ranging discussion on client/vendor relationships. From lighting and projection-mapping, to costumes and choreography, we covered a lot of ground in our time together. What I found interesting is that, even though the panelists all have different backgrounds and varying areas of expertise, we were all in unanimous agreement that our business is driven by passion, dedication, and a tireless attention to detail; and that we all play an integral part in creating an unforgettable experience.

L to R: Chad Hudson, KC Wilkerson, Eddie Zaratsian, Doug Miller, Pauline Perry
L to R: Chad Hudson, KC Wilkerson, Eddie Zaratsian, Doug Miller, Pauline Perry

In all, it was an evening of great fun with like-minded creatives. Getting out and meeting new people is an important part of creative life; and Vegas always inspires with its unique blend of highbrow and lowbrow. I’m grateful to have been invited to participate in this incredible opportunity!

!NSP!RE – 8 pieces of advice for thriving in a world of constant change

Just a quick share of a great post.

Many of the thoughts shared by Joi Ito resonate with me, and I really responded to the the thought that “linear thinking is becoming less useful as a model than complex, intuitive thinking. The most important things that we do in the world today are about orchestrating complexity.”

So much truth in that statement.

ideas.ted.com

On a trip to the Bahamas in 2012, I got the chance to feed a group of grey reef sharks. Now, feeding sharks is not an activity to be taken lightly. It’s a complex challenge that essentially requires you to coordinate a group of wild animals; you want them excited enough that they stick around. But you can’t just dump lots of food in the water, because that will whip them into a frenzy, with potentially disastrous consequences.

You spend a lot of time training for a dive like this. And the most important thing is for all of that training to be second nature. If you’re present and aware in the moment, the action just happens intuitively. The sharks, in all honesty, feel almost like dogs. They have personalities — you see which ones are a little bit more aggressive and which ones have a personality that borders on…

View original post 1,120 more words