Giving Great The Love

This very minute, I’m on location at a television spot shoot. That’s right; I’m typing, but listening to an Assistant Director yelling, “Okay – all quiet! Cel phones off, fans off! Let’s lock it and roll!” ADs have all kinds of “lock and load” language that sounds cool, by the way. Anyway, I’m fortunate to have a great production crew, great colleagues and a really great Director on this particular shoot, and I’m reminded of the  intertwining of ideas and execution. When one sees a great communication of any kind: television, web, print or any other medium, one has to understand that the great communication did not simply emerge from “a big idea.” Without a doubt, the idea was only a start.

As with any piece of creative work its creators want to push to some degree of greatness, Bringing this TV project into existence has demanded constant rethinking and refinement. The script has been re-written and re-structured a half dozen times – in fact, we’re still improving the lines during shooting. The casting mix on this behemoth changed daily. Locations were chosen, scratched and “one-upped” until some magic finally presented itself.  And maybe most importantly, the production crew trudged through weather issues and a dozen other obstacles in order to roll camera. The director and I have split hairs over words and inflections, and we have to constantly remind ourselves of the goal of the end product.

The point here is that a great idea can quickly wither in the face of tepid execution. Of course, a lousy idea can only gain so much traction through the best of executions. Great work demands both. It demands the creative team sweat for a real idea and work hard to sell it. Then it keeps on demanding. A great idea is a lot like a high maintenance companion. You believe it’s worth the trouble, but only if its needs don’t kill you first. To see the great idea through from inception to completion is a labor of love.

As a creative, I’d ask you to have a hard look at your reel or your portfolio. When you peruse it, do you get excited at what you see? Or do you count all the places that caused your pieces to become less than you wanted? To an extent, we all do that because creatives should never be satisfied with “good enough.” But taking your work to the next level means adding a whole new layer of effort. It means paying attention to details you haven’t previously paid much attention to. And it means owning the project completely. You must be the ultimate critic of your work. You have to be dissatisfied when things feel ordinary (another term for mediocre). Because only you have the power to ratchet things higher. Don’t be afraid to be the advocate for the work. Insist on getting to great. That’s why they pay you the big bucks.

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