One of the main challenges all creatives face is not only generating new ideas for content but also determining which ideas are worth pursuing and which ideas should be discarded. Many new ideas seem great at first, but after several weeks of brainstorming, outlining and writing, too many ideas lead to dead ends and wasted energy. With this in mind, I was happy to come across a recent video podcast posting from award-winning Austin-based animator Lucas Martell focusing on his technique for conceiving new story ideas and discerning which ones to pursue.
I met Lucas back in the fall of 2009 at the DC Shorts Film Festival where we both had shorts screening during the same program. Lucas' animated short, Pigeon: Impossible, blew me away. His short screened at over 200 festivals around the world and won numerous awards. Check it out below and you'll see why:
Following the opening night screening, Lucas and I talked at length at one of the after-parties during the festival. On top of creating this amazing short, Lucas happens to be a very funny and generous guy. He created a series of video podcasts explaining his animation process during Pigeon: Impossible so others could learn from his work.
Lucas is now working on his next project, The OceanMaker, a 9-minute animated short which he describes this way:
After the Earth's oceans have disappeared, one courageous pilot fights against vicious sky pirates for control of the last remaining source of water: the clouds.
He has recently launched a new video podcast to accompany the pre-production of The OceanMaker, and the second episode titled "Five Ideas" caught my attention. You can watch it below (it's only 3 minutes). The video podcast begins with a few quick clips from The OceanMaker, which look pretty stellar:
As you can see, Lucas' concept of a weekly ideas tournament is simple, but I think it's powerful both in its construction and its specificity. Using this technique, writers really have no excuses for not having time to generate new story ideas. Plus, this form of writing exercise will naturally generate better ideas not only over the course of a week, but will lead to a stack of solid story ideas over time. I would bet that, if used consistently, most of a writer's initial daily ideas would only get stronger.
To keep up with the progress of The OceanMaker, make sure you stay tuned to Lucas' upcoming video podcasts on the project.
What do you think of Lucas' ideas tournament? Do you use a similar technique to develop story ideas and to distinguish the good from the bad (and the ugly)? Share your techniques with us in the Comments.