Discovering Creativity via a Visual Director: Recommended Viewing

In the past whenever I’ve provided material to be analyzed, it’s often as a result of an after effect of a really tragic event that happened during the week; so much so that my brain is numbed up from being able to produce a proper idea to blog about. However, this time is different. I wanted to provide something to analyze without bringing along that ball and chain.

In this case, I’m shedding light on a video feature produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, that highlights the creative process of director Jennifer Yuh Nelson. While she’s had over 20 years of experience in the animation industry, she’s most widely known for her work on the “Kung Fu Panda” films; serving as the head of story for the first film, and the director of the second and third films. She’s actually the first woman to solely directed a feature-length animated film from a major animation production company (Dreamworks).

An artist since childhood, Nelson talks a lot about how visuals, specifically a moment, aid her in cementing the beginning of a story. From there, as she explains, everything else in the story always hooks back to this vital seed. She also discusses how as a creator, it’s wise not to surround yourself with just what you know how to do (animation in her case). By drawing upon inspiration from creativity in other forms such as live-action film, the product a creator creates can become much more than what it is.

Even though this video was posted on YouTube over a month ago, I’ve been watching it a lot more as of lately (probably due to my recent purchase of the latest “Kung Fu Panda” film on DVD). Normally as far as sequels in movies go, they tend to decrease in quality as they go along. In the case of “Kung Fu Panda” on the other hand, they’ve only gotten better with each one, and I think a lot of that is due to Nelson stepping up as the director. I consider it no coincidence that I saw the second and third films twice when they were in theaters. So therefore, I have a huge respect for Nelson as a director.

Her creative process is really enlightening to me as a writer. I like how we both are very visual people; often relying on images rather than dialogue to take shape in our heads in order to get a story going. I also respect the fact that she encourages creative people to explore mechanisms outside of their own professions, for one can truly value from such a self-education as that. I think the same way, which is why I don’t consider it weird at all when I highlight people like her and Hayao Miyazaki as heroes in my eyes.

So give the video a view or two, and consider her creative process. Feel free to let me know your thoughts about it and whether or not you’ve taken anything away from it that you may consider applying to the mechanisms of your own creative processes.

A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 12 reviews so I’m already just past the halfway point to my goal). Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.


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