'The Block V': Creativity is hard work

MUMBAI: Charged with passion, the room was reverberating with literature, poetry and art to the hilt. Urging the young creative minds to seek and absorb and refurbish the well of thoughts, the plea of the three hour session was to be as greedy for experiences as a vampire thirsts for blood. This about sums up the essence of what The Block V covered this Friday.

Thus acclaimed duo of White Light Moving Picture Co Namita Roy Ghose and Subir Chaterjee introduced session five of 'The Block' - the 10 session creative workshop hosted by the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).


With the prime focus being how to tell a great story, both Ghose and Chaterjee called attention to the building on one's experiences and piling up life's learning's, otherwise one will mine it and mine it but finally it will run dry.

"Every story must have the 'oh fuck' factor," says Ghose delving into what makes for an exciting copy. "If you see the earlier series of Star Wars, they are nowhere close to the latter one's considering the special effects and the tools that have been used, but the former worked sans all of these because it had a great story telling value," she adds. No amount of technology or technique will work if you don't have an interesting story to tell is the bottom-line.

"Write stories, play God!" Ghose very verbosely told the audience to experiment with their stories and play God; play the game of 'what if', the only field where one can be the master of the universe. For instance, what if an alien landed on earth and met a little boy.( What if Harry met Sally….What if?

Raymond Carvo being Ghose's favourite writer, she sited a lot of his work to inspire and infuse enthusiasm and passion among the audience. Thoughts are embedded deep within us and our mind is like a well; when a stone is thrown, the rippling process begins she says.

Understanding the creative process in a holistic manner is a huge learning. The process begins with a provocative brief. Capturing intense moments across unique photographs, she titillated the minds to see beyond and derive different connotations. "Allow yourself to see, go in and accept." Allowing one's self to be provoked is to have a thin skin; to be receptive to all the stimuli in one's environment. To delve into the images and go beneath the skin of the works and images is very crucial. One needs to enter people's lives and allow one's self that kind of intimacy.

Quoting from Satyajit Ray she says "A passion for people and places" is crucial.

The second half of the session was taken over by Chatterjee, who kicked off on the the most relevant obstacle this media suffers. With the interpretation problem a well known hindrance in the advertising industry, he stressed on the how key the task of communicating one single precise idea to the viewers was an uphill task.

Chatterjee's home truths:

" Know the language in which you want to speak

" The knowledge of the language of film is most important and one needs to actively pursue it.

" Just because to have heard music, love music does not mean you can compose music, the same applies to films and hence the craft of film making needs to be studied.

" There is information galore everywhere. So all you need to do is go out and get it.

" Technique is when you and break rules; when you don't know it, it is anarchy.

" Get your hands dirty; get into the books and you will enjoy films a million times more.

" If you don't derive and desire life you will atrophy yourself.

" Be familiar with the idioms of the language only then can u use it.

" Film is about life

" "Increase the source" You do not refill your source you will run dry. On the other hand if your source is irrelevant, you are over. " What I am is the sum total of my funded sources."

Going on to compare writing to guerilla warfare, Chatterjee says there is no vacation for writing too. Writing a novel is like gathering smoke. Writing for films is applied writing as film has its own lingo.

Showing us glimpses of an oriental movie he went into the realms of resonance and the use of montages and explained in detail the use of resonance and use of it to connote something deeper that the obvious. Montage is one of the most powerful tools he said.

Restating his point of seeking information he said there are tools to tell a story and to study the tools was vital.

Moving on to another note, he talked about metaphors and their importance and its efficacy in communication. Referring to Noam Chomsky's usage of transformational grammar, he pointed out the better you know your land, your cultural tools the better you compress the better you communicate.

"Reduce to make potent" he says. The more obtuse you are, the less you will remember. Poetry is a language that is charged. Similarly one needs to strike an alliance with the viewer.

Commenting on music he says "Music is most accessible and least understood." Nobody will ask why you like this music, but one can always apply the question to books and films.

The great narrative arc and its structure was also touched upon and a basic idea was given to the audience.

Another important factor that he stated was "Without an obstacle there is no story" which translates into what I want I cant get. Desire, conflict, point, counter point are all the bare essentials to weave a good story.

Also every script has hidden ideas and all films should respond to advertising and film logic. So look hard and look deep was the hidden message.

Words of caution :

"Do not take suggestions from anybody who has not seen it fully." Only the person drinking the water will know whether it's hot or cold.

Look for traps. More often than not, they pass the bare eye unnoticed. ( For instance the Lakme ad: Only hand and nails and no identity to relate to)

Don't order if you can't afford it. Write within your budget; it is possible to make good cheap movies.

Creativity is hard work was the bottom-line of session V. With most creative guru's professing how an idea just sparks out of no where, here were two people telling the future of advertising, it's not as simple as that. Good ideas need to be nourished with great amount of study, observation and an eye for life. With that Chaterjee concluded with a brilliant note, "Write drunk, revise sober."

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