Martin Scorsese on Protecting Your Inspiration

"…cutting through all the technology and cutting through all the cultural fads, the fashion, the one thing you can rely on—the one thing that has to be protected—is that initial inspirational spark you had when you first decided that you wanted to express yourself through the moving image. That’s very hard to protect. It can be chipped away at over the years. You may have to do things that you don’t necessarily want to do. But you still have to protect that initial inspiration. Ultimately, it’s just you and that. Nothing else matters."

Martin Scorsese

Further Reading: Martin Scorsese Wants to Teach You How to Direct by Vanity Fair

The Director as Servant

I've not seen The Lost City of Z, James Gray's film about British explorer Percy Fawcett, but I recently read the screenplay. So when I noticed an interview with James Gray about the film on the DGA podcast, I was curious enough to listen.

Near the end of the interview, Gray talks about Carlos Kleiber, a relatively unknown orchestra conductor who had a humble outlook on his talents. Gray summed up Kleiber's belief about the role of the conductor in this way:

"The conductor is not playing the instruments; the conductor's job is to summon the magnificence of others."

James Gray

There are many different styles of creative leadership. Some are auteurs, others intensely collaborative, others demanding. But the Kleiber style of leadership really struck a chord with me. It takes what can be a huge and intimidating job, with enormous pressure bearing down on one person, and spreads it out among a group of excellent artists, technicians, and craftsmen. Surrounding yourself with people who can do their jobs far better than you ever could, and giving them the freedom to do so, liberates the creative leader and elevates the creation.

It's almost a servant leadership approach to creating. Yes, there is someone leading the project; but that person is also facilitating—fielding ideas, seeking input, encouraging people to try new things and surprise them. Bringing out their magnificence.

William Goldman says something similar in Adventures in the Screen Trade:

"The best [directors] are wonderful storytellers. Those best do one thing superbly well: They help. Everybody."

William Goldman

I don't believe that is the only approach to creative leadership. But it's one that appeals to me and that I'd like to embrace.


Further Listening: The Lost City of Z with James Gray and Matt Reeves
Further Reading: Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman

The Faith of Glen Keane

Glen Keane is more than an incredible artist. He's one of the finest animators the world has known, a man who creates magic from a Mitsubishi 10B pencil and a sheet of paper. His work has shaped childhoods and expressed feelings difficult to put into words. You've seen him act, though you may not realize it; it was disguised as Ariel, the Beast, Tarzan, and Rapunzel. But underneath those costumes was Glen Keane.

"I can't believe life can be this wonderful."
Glen Keane

On the Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast, Glen spoke in depth about his faith as a Christian. He discusses reconnecting with his faith while a young animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios, the influence of fellow animator Ron Husband, wanting to leave animation to go to seminary, finding God's purpose for putting him at Disney, and the spiritual elements behind scenes in The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

Glen is a deep thinker, and imparts his reflections and wisdom with an ease that comes from his depth of faith and feeling. It's a fantastic interview that greatly inspired me as a Christian working in a creative field.


Further reading: The Adventures of Adam Raccoon by Glen Keane

David Condolora is a storyteller in games, film, and beyond.