Review: Local Talent / Global Market & Inside the Creative Process – June 8 2010

I think I have begun to cotton on to the darker purpose of Creative Sydney. Back in 1998, I heard cinematographer Chris Doyle being interviewed about Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, in the bar of what was the Dendy under Martin Place. He said that they’d been given a load of money by a big studio to make the movie, so they decided to make a shot-by-shot remake of the original. And if the big studios wanted to give them a pile of cash just to experiment with an art-project, he said, well what was wrong with that?

The Sydney Sessions, so far, are like the Creative Sydney art project. Big names come in during the first sessions of the evening, drawing the crowds. By the time the second sessions have come around the crowd has thinned out, the note-takers become more obvious and people with lower-profile projects get a big stage to talk about them. But the big sessions fund the art-project of the second ones.

Tuesday night had two sessions.

The first of the evening was Local Talent / Global Market. Sean Ashby from AussieBum swimwear was very entertaining; and if his descriptions of their work environment is to believed, the open structure of his business is a really interesting model worth emulating. I like the idea of a company without a marketing department. And, although I’m not sure if Myer and Coles are worth the effort of his vendetta (because of which he’s not stocked on their shelves), I loved finding out about details of their organisation. Such as the whole office descending to help in the manufacturing/packing room on Monday mornings, business meetings in the pub and having found success because “our business isn’t about money”.

Equally, though, I’m not sure I agree with him that “The Now Generation don’t care about etiquette.” While there may be less deference offline, in my experience online communities and media are each like their own sub-genre of fiction – each with their own rules and their own very specific cultures.

The best bits of this session, though, all came right at the end. Moderator Jess Scully asked about whether Australia was a very conservative country. Or, at least, if the people making the decisions here are very conservative? In reply, each of the guests riffed on the theme of needing to sell yourself to the world. Rob Belgiovane also pipped in that critical to success is “Ignoring the advice of people around you is critical.” Sean Ashby advised not to just “think about travelling to Sydney to get the best job. Think about travelling anywhere.” These are interesting ideas. Does Sydney, at least, have an austere bella figura that needs puncturing?

Before these final ideas popped up, I’d begun to think that in contrast to the Writers’ Festival being all about the creative process, Creative Sydney would just be about ‘getting it out there’. More marketing than making.

Then Tuesday night’s art project turned out to be Inside the Creative Process. Just what I’d thought had been missing during the last session. Hearing about these projects going on in the quiet corners of Sydney – not just in this panel, but in all of the sessions here – inspires me: just for the sake of hearing about the variety. But it’s especially good to be hearing people talking about how make things out of nothing.

The inner muse is probably the best bit about doing something in the creative spheres. But it comes and goes, and hearing other people talk about the process helps you have faith in the process.

Where do ideas come from? Talking tonight were Darren Price & Tim Rayner, two of the many co-animators of Coalition of the Willing; Paola Morabito, director of a documentary on Jane Campion’s creative process; Stephen Goddard and Keith Saunders, who are documenting Sydney’s small artist studios for a project of their own ; and Josh Whiteman, who worked for years on the documentary Shadow Play, covering the creative process of Anton Corbijn.

Paola Morabito talked about how John Keats’ idea of negative capability “changed crew [of Bright Star] on a cellular level.” Keats had this idea at 19, that faced with some transcendental experiences, it’s important to be able to not reach for understanding. To simply appreciate. “Being receptive, rather than forcing something to happen”, as the actor playing Keats says in her documentary.

Josh Whitemen, meanwhile, talked about the problem in making his documentary that “The challenge with capturing the creative process was that really, it’s incredibly dull.”

Darren Price quoted Dave Bohm, of The Life Gallery, that the collaborative nature of the Coalition of the Willing project made it “a great way of meeting people, in London and right around the world”.Liane Rossler from Monday night’s Creative for a Cause, made a similar point about one of her projects. This seems to be emerging as a bit of a collaborative theme. Or does it just mean that tech-y people in the environmental movement have trouble making friends? (Not so in my experience, mind you.)

The collaborative aspect is what most worked for me at Creative Sydney Tuesday night. It’s hard to review a collection of such a personal thing as the creative process. But having creative people around, doing things – just in general – inspires me. Just for their being. Finding all the.. rincones is the spanish words.. ..all the nooks, where the creative people of Sydney lurk, can be difficult.

Tonight’s art project projected it all up there really well for me.

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