This year of rediscovery, especially with the antidepressant recalibrating my emotional brain, has made me think a lot more about creating art. I've certainly been consuming more art than ever, in the form of music, theater, movies, TV and documentaries, which I strongly believe is among the purest forms of storytelling art. For years I've expressed my desire to create art, without ever knowing where to start or how to act on that. It's a decades-long desire. The desire gets particularly intense when I see making-of features for movies or musicals. I often wonder if the desire is to have that summer camp feel of collaboration with artists, or maybe it's my desire to "manage" something that impact others in a non-trivial way. The closest thing I've ever had to that was perhaps coaching volleyball teams or little bits of TV production circa 1997 for a suburban city.
But of the things that I've created, one of the things I always really felt good about was my walk-and-talk interview with the then-CEO of Cedar Fair, Matt Ouimet. I only had a few hours, but I felt like, maybe for the first time, I got the things out of my subject that I really wanted, and it almost told a story. At the very least, it captured who the person was. I know this because I would talk to him many times after that, sometimes about personal and career related things, and the guy in that interview is the real thing. I even had another chance to tell the story of building a roller coaster with him. A few years later, I was able to tell a somewhat deeper story, with a few hours of shooting, about a roller coaster that a family built, with backstory of the parent who had passed years before. The thing that I come back to with these pieces is that, with little preparation or time, I was able to piece together something resembling a story, and that felt good. Am I a documentarian who just needs a bigger and deeper subject?
I lean on other things that I've done as art as well, because as far as I'm concerned, even my published technical book had a fair amount of art involved. Code that I've written is art. Engagement and wedding photos I've shot are art. Shitty web site designs I've designed are (shitty) art. The idea for the tattoo on my leg is art, even if I didn't ink it myself. Maybe, even this blog could be art. I'm just not sure when I can decide that I'm an artist.
Again, the thing I lean into the most though are those video pieces. When I was in that government TV gig a lifetime ago, I put out a show every week that was four or five "packages" that told stories, and all of that came so easy to me. So for all of my bitching an moaning for two decades about not being able to write a screenplay, maybe the real opportunity is to be a documentarian.
This week I was thinking about two businesses that I greatly admire. What if I approached them about making a documentary about their businesses? Could I make something out of it? What would it cost? Could I recover the cost somehow?
A lot to think about.