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 "Revenge of the Sith  
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Post "Revenge of the Sith
Title: Revenge of the Sith – Creativity and Structure

Author: Kal Bishop

Article:

The common belief is that lack of structure and randomness
enhances creative output, whereas in truth, creativity is
enhanced when it is organised, systematic and based on highly
structured processes. This article will use Episode III of the
Star Wars trilogy – Revenge of the Sith – to demonstrate that
point.

First, some basic concepts.

a)We can measure creativity by observing the number of ideas
produced, their novelty and diversity and the frequency of
production. This allows us to gauge which of the two methods
indicated above, produces more output. Using it, we can say for
example, whether a structured approach with incremental
deadlines and goals yields more of a screenplay than a “do your
best approach.” Graham Green, the famous English writer,
insisted that his success was due to writing, without fail, 500
words a day. Similar examples of incremental goal setting, the
experience of people who regularly have to generate ideas (e.g.
creatives in advertising) and experimentation reveal that
incremental deadlines do indeed help us complete that screenplay
much faster.

b)Creative output versus applied creative output. Creative
output is enhanced to some degree by unstructured and random
thinking. This is the essence of lateral thinking, where ideas
are generated for i) the sake of generating them, ii) without
direction, iii) without evaluation, iv) using random stimuli to
open up pathways and so forth. However, applied creativity
results from i) the use of frameworks that relate to the problem
and ii) critical thinking – reducing the idea pool to feasible
ideas. In effect there are three stages, first creative thinking
which is a combination of lateral and logical idea generation
and second, critical thinking.

c)Structures and formal processes trigger a problem finding and
resolving attitude and induce the goal state. This establishes
boundaries, consistency, focuses creative energy and is a major
source of motivation. It is commonly noted that people seem to
be creative when constrained to some degree.

d)Prolific output. Structures such as incremental goals force
output and lead to prolific production, which increases the
likelihood of quality. It can be declared with great certainty
that quality positively correlates with quantity. The single
best creative product appears at that point in the career when
the creator is being most prolific.

e)Incubation. Incremental goals can be short and longer term.
Short-term goals increase output. Longer terms goals allow
problems to incubate at various cognitive levels and lead to
richer insights.

With the above in mind then, how did George Lucas go about
writing the screenplay for Revenge of the Sith? He didn’t just
sit there and hope for the muse to strike. He had a deadline, a
budget was involved and distributors and marketers had
expectations. So he used structure.

As screenwriters know, the modern screenplay has evolved from
three and four act structure. The modern dividers are known as
plot points 1 and 2 and the midpoint, which break up the
screenplay into four thirty page parts. By page 30 George knew
that he had to set up the characters and Anakin had to set off
on a journey, triggered by a set of events. A cataclysmic event
had to take place around page 60, which sparks the meat of the
Ordeal and significant change and by page 90, the scene is set
for the final confrontation between the Jedi and the Dark Side.
In effect, each section is reduced to a set of problem finding
and solving exercises.

Going even further, classical story structure (on which the
original Star Wars is based) breaks a film into 19 parts and
many of today’s successful movies are framed around it. The
parts are: Ordinary World, the Call, Refusal, Supernatural Aid,
First Threshold, Belly of the Whale, Trials, Meeting the
Goddess, Woman as Temptress, Atonement, Apotheosis, Boon,
Refusal of return, Magic Flight, Rescue from Within, Crossing
the Threshold, Return, Master of Two Worlds, Freedom to Live
(Campbell, 1968). Thus, even four acts are too random.
Screenwriters need a structure of 19 distinct stages of problem
identification and idea generation to maximise their creativity
in terms of speed and output.

The above 19 stage structure can legitimately be expanded to
around 40 stages and there are theories that allow for as many
as 240 micro stages.

In conclusion, creativity can be measured by the frequency,
speed, novelty, diversity, amount and applicability of output.
Significant research and practical experience indicate that
organised, systematic and highly structured processes increase
creativity, so if you want to help George write Star Wars
Episode VII, don’t take a random and structure free approach
(commonly known as waiting for inspiration) – use the
appropriate structures and get on with it.

************************************

These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA
dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be
purchased at http://www.managing-creativity.com

Kal Bishop, MBA, http://www.managing-creativity.com

************************************

About the author:
Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He
has consulted in the visual media and software industries and
for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led
improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork
in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of
screenplays. He is a passionate traveller.

This article was re-posted by permission.

[Note: Due to size restriction, this article's title was truncated. Appologies to Kal Bishop. - Admin.]


Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:17 pm
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