Sound Stories #31 – Preparing for Your Most Creative Year Yet

    0
    1395

    In this year-end episode, we’ve pulled together some of the top highlights from the past season. Listen in as our guests give their best advice on how to reinvigorate, refresh and revitalize your creative side – and make 2018 your best year yet!

    TRANSCRIPTION SOUND STORIES #031

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Welcome to episode number 31 of the Sound Stories podcast, our last release of 2017. It’s hard to believe how fast time flies, although being able to bring a world of creative insight to you through Sound Stories has made this past year incredibly fun. In following with our show’s mandate to inspire and support you, we’ve assembled a special episode, a compilation of clips from some of our incredible guests who have had a particularly uplifting perspective to share. Even if sometimes that message meant pushing creative boundaries or even becoming uncomfortable.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    I hope that hearing their words of wisdom will help you start 2018 off on the right foot, feeling refreshed, refocused, and re-invigorated so you can rise to new challenges and opportunities in any creative endeavor you pursue. One of the biggest struggles for creatives relates to confidence. Are my ideas good enough? Have I lost my touch? Am I out of ideas? Chris Smith, Creative Head at the Richards Group has been behind several radio mercury award winning ads and campaigns. He’s even won Jeopardy, twice. And in episode number 28, he shared how even he struggles.

    Chris Smith:

    Every creative person will tell you that their career is ups and downs. And this job is so incredibly rewarding and so incredibly punishing. And the analogy I make is that every day you have an idea, that’s like having a baby. And you bring that baby into a room and put it in the middle of the table and then 12 strangers hit it with sticks and you have to watch. And that’s how it feels, like someone is literally beating up your baby. And some days that can… That’s graphic, but that’s how it feels.

    Chris Smith:

    So you get in periods where you’re not selling anything. And a lot of creative people, if they’re honest, will tell you that no matter what level of success they achieve in this business, we drive home every day thinking we’re terrible at this. Like, “That’s it. I’m out of ideas. I suck. I’m a hack. Whatever I’ve done, I’ve had my last idea.” And then the next day you get up and in the shower something comes to you, an idea and you’re like, “Oh, hey, look at that. I can still do this.”

    Chris Smith:

    So to me it’s not necessarily periods of ups and downs. To me it’s kind of every day because every day has ups and downs in it. So you have a great meeting and then the next meeting you’re just a complete buffoon and nothing sells. And that’s within 45 minutes of each other. So, it’s a really high, low day to day kind of thing. So to me it’s just everyday getting up and reminding yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

    Chris Smith:

    And Stan Richards always says at the end of every one of our meetings, he says, “Thanks, now let’s go have fun.” And that’s how he ends all of his meetings. And I really do try to do that. I’m like, “This should be fun. I have a fun job.” My sisters are special ed teachers and social workers and they have really seriously difficult jobs. I get to do the fun stuff. So I have to remind myself of that every day, that this should be fun and if it’s not fun, what can I do to make it fun again? And if that means sometimes having a heart to heart with a client, up well with the team and go, “Guys, we’ve got to do this better or that better, or what’s on your mind?” That’s it. So it’s every day

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Hearing that even a creative genius like Chris could be even occasionally afflicted by a lack of confidence is reminder to all of us that we’re not alone in the struggle. At some point, you may find yourself questioning your skills, but that doesn’t mean that you are not successful. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re out of inspiration. Before you know it, your next big idea will strike like lightning.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Over the years, the arts have had to fight to be recognized for the way that they add value to society. So if you’ve ever felt like your career choice has been questioned by friends and family or that they don’t understand what you do, chances are you have a career in the arts. Searching for validity in our career choices is common and when it comes to this, no one understands an artist’s struggle better than another artist.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    As the former director of the office for the arts learning from performers program at Harvard university, Tom Lee helped to develop and nurture a program that connected established artists to students. These mentors help the up and coming generation as they sought to hone their craft and in some cases to validate the value of their career choices. In episode number 27, Tom recalls a particularly impactful presentation by the late actor Jack Lemmon, who had some savvy advice to give students who weren’t sure if a career in the arts was for them.

    Tom Lee:

    My first year at this job, I had the extreme pleasure of hosting an actor who I greatly admired. He’s passed away now, Jack Lemmon. Mr. Lemmon was really adamant about getting across to the students. If there’s anything, anything else that you can do and he said, “And I know that there are some very smart young people in this audience,” he said, “Please go into that field because you will find that rejection is practically a staple in terms of this business.” He said if I was pounding the pavement for years, I just thought at certain points I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not. My parents never sent me to Harvard to go into acting and they knew full well the rigors, the pitfalls of the profession. So I would say if there’s anything else that you can do, do it.

    Tom Lee:

    But if you’ve got that fire in the belly, if you really, really think that this is the only thing that you can do, then you just pursue it as much as you can. And he said, “It’s a lot of luck. It’s also of course a lot of talent. Sometimes it’s who you know. It’s who to avoid and who not to avoid,” et cetera. But he said, “It will reward you many fold if you do get a foothold into the business.”

    Tom Lee:

    The other actors who have talked about this a lot are Laura and Linney. She also, I remember, talked quite a bit about some of the rejection that she faced in the business. And then a Harvard graduate, John Lisko, he was class of 67. John has been very supportive of the learning from performance program and of the office for the arts over the years. He comes back every year and talks to students who are interested in acting. And one thing that John will remind them of, he’ll say, “Most casting agents, directors, et cetera, they don’t really care that you went to Harvard. That’s not going to be your ticket. Your ticket is going to be your talent, your energy and your drive.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    This statement had a real impact on me because it totally clarified that not only do you need an unwavering passion for what you’re doing, you need to feel personally connected to your choice to pursue it. A career in the arts is a hard pursuit, so if what you’re doing isn’t your first love, if you can imagine yourself doing anything else, then you should go out and do that other thing, but if you can’t, then you’re on the right path and in good company.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Sometimes when you’ve been working at your craft for a long time, a funny thing happens, you fall into a rut. Just when you think you’ve mastered your craft, it’s like the magic dissipates. Why does this happen? You’ve worked so hard at honing your technical skill and now you’re able to create at a fast pace. You think you’ve conquered your creative blocks, but still you find yourself stuck. Why? In episode number 24, Jonathan De Souza, music professor and author, joined us to shed some light on why this happens and how to get back into the flow.

    Jonathan De Souza:

    One of the ideas that I’m interested in here is when we kind of sabotage ourselves a little bit, that brings the tool to our mind and to our awareness in a different way. So if something goes wrong, you notice the hammer in a way that you don’t normally. And I think this is the same thing with writing. Some people, I mean, I love fancy pens. Do I need fancy pens? Well, I guess not, but it’s really nice to write with a really nice pen. And there’s that aspect of my tool that when you become more aware of it, it can, I think, also increase the enjoyment of the process as well as kind of changing your product in some way that might be useful to you.

    Jonathan De Souza:

    It’s a way to kind of re-focus on where you’re starting. It’s the same thing with typewriters or these kinds of things. I mean, it seems on some level like, “Oh, it shouldn’t matter.” But the feeling of the keys is different, the sound, potentially the smell of the ink. All of these things are part of the experience of making whatever you’re making. And I think, it can be a great thing sometimes to kind of put yourself off balance and kind of tune into those aspects of what you’re doing as well. I think there’s often this idea that ideas just kind of magically come to a creative person and then you just kind of, they’re fully formed. You just kind of write it down or put it out into the actual form.

    Jonathan De Souza:

    There are a million different factors here. Any of those things can be a source of potential. Any of those things can be an obstacle. So it’s really just kind of always about navigating and negotiating all of these different things and kind of just being in the midst of this kind of rich but messy world. That’s to me where creativity comes from, not from some kind of disembodied idea. You try things, you experiment, you improvise and you kind of find your way through however you do it.

    Jonathan De Souza:

    I mean, this is also partially what’s exciting about creativity and why… If I’m going to create something that’s different from the next person, but it’s even, if I’m gonna make up some music it’s going to be different today from tomorrow or different depending on what I’m playing or all these things. That unpredictability can be a source of anxiety. But it really is also, I mean, that’s the great potential because if everything were overdetermined, if everything were kind of sat by your tools, you can just do this one thing that’s not really very interesting either.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    The lesson that Jonathan drives home is causing discomfort, even though it’s painful, can be good for us. It can help us to push our own boundaries and help us to rediscover our original passion for our work. Sometimes our creative pursuits take us in a very niche or niche, depending on how you say it, direction. As we specialize in focusing, it can be easy to start to feel isolated or even worse that our work has no applicability in the picture. However, this year has reminded me that when you indulge your creativity the results can surprise you. No one can really see what the future holds or what possibilities are going to come to us along the way.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    As a linguistic anthropologist, Dr. Christine Schreyer’s work is highly specialized. She has a particular interest in dying languages as well as the art of constructing languages or con lagging. And if you’re wondering what a constructed language is, Klingon and Na’vi are both great examples. When I spoke to Christine in episode number 20, I was inspired by the journey of her career and the way in which her unique skills took her among other places all the way to Hollywood. Christine is the creator of the Kryptonian language for the film Man of Steel as well as the creator of Eltarian, also known as the language of the Power Rangers. I was thrilled to have Christine share her experience of working on these high profile projects.

    Dr. Christine Schreyer:

    So I got to work with Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks, teaching them the language so that they could have it on screen. So Bryan Cranston was Zordon, who’s the ranger who is seen in the beginning of the movie and then he’s in the wall directing the new Power Rangers. And then Elizabeth Banks is Rita Repulsa, she’s the villain. So they both had to learn a little bit of Eltarian for the movie. And there was a lot of different sounds to it. And one thing that always happens is that during editing things morph during editing, lines will be cut, lines will be added. So things changed at that point in time as well.

    Dr. Christine Schreyer:

    So I was Skyped into the ADR session because I got to be on set. When Bryan was doing his lines, he was on a green screen and then they did outdoor shots. And so I was there helping him learn how to say the words. And then sometimes the lines just wasn’t on camera and his mouth wasn’t moving properly because now it was a new line. So changing those lines is always something interesting when that ADR process is happening.

    Dr. Christine Schreyer:

    I didn’t actually get to meet Elizabeth Banks in person. I was Skyped in to meet with her while she was in studio, but she was just so chill and relaxed and very calm about doing the language. She was very relaxed doing the language where other people may get a little bit nervous. Bryan was really funny and he’s such a down to earth guy that it was great meeting him and at one point they were asking him, “Do you mind if Christine comes to tell you the line?” And he said, “No. If Christine could stand right there where I’m directing my lines, that would be very helpful.

    Dr. Christine Schreyer:

    And they had to check to make sure it was okay with him and he was just really welcoming and we had to do sound recordings later on together, and I was reading the other lines and he was just always really friendly and encouraging and so it was lovely to meet him. I also got to Skype into his ADR session and he’s just such a great actor. His voice is so expressive. So it was wonderful to hear him say my language. It was the first time that my language was spoken on this screen. So I’m really glad that it was Bryan Cranston who got to do it.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    Christine reminded me that sometimes it just comes down to the fact that you need to just keep doing good work. Eventually people will notice you and opportunities will arise in new and unexpected ways. So, stay focused on what you’re really good at and remember that there can be riches in the niches.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    I was very excited when Grammy nominated recording artist and DORA award winner Tyley Ross joined us for episode number 19. As it turns out, Tyley is like many other creatives out there in that he has a number of interests that feed his creativity. To an outsider, it may seem like he’s fluttering all over the map. One day he may be performing on stage, but the next you might find him recording videos of himself as he sings in different vocal styles. Well, in an MRI machine. In talking to Tyley, he revealed that there’s a method behind the switching back and forth that some might regard as madness.

    Tyley Ross:

    I feel like people need to identify a thing that they do that’s where they can be a specialist in. I actually have them visualize themselves as two things. One, is a gambler and two, is as a farmer. So as a gambler, they’re kind of a specialist. They are going to pursue this business of becoming a performer and hopefully that they’re going to succeed, they’re going to get the roles that they want, feel artistically fulfilled, and they’re going to make money, and they’re going to win awards if that’s what it is they want to do.

    Tyley Ross:

    But being that kind of creative, you’re not really that much in charge of what you do. You can be the very best at all of the things that you need to do, and you can be ready and you’re not going to get hired. Maybe you’re too tall, maybe you’re too short, maybe you are too wide, maybe you’re too skinny, maybe you’re too bold or blonde, or all of the things that you can be that just somehow don’t resonate with what the casting director and the director’s idea of what that character was going to be when they started the casting process. That person doesn’t get the role.

    Tyley Ross:

    I think it’s important to be ready for that. So as a gambler, you need to make sure that you buy your lottery ticket and you buy it every week. And so as a performer, that means that you’re castable and that means being aware of what your casting type is. So if you are the American hero, you got to be going to the gym and you got to be taking care of your hair. There’s things that I could do for myself that would make me more identifiably, iconically a character type that would not challenge a casting team when they’re looking to fill a role.

    Tyley Ross:

    So knowing what your character type is and actually nailing that is important. So being ready, that’s part of being a good gambler. Making sure that your audition pieces, your monologue and your audition book, every music, theater performer has to have a dozen or 20 songs in the book that they’re ready to perform at any moment.

    Tyley Ross:

    So being sure that all of your knives and your door are really sharp in that regard. Making sure that you’ve got a beautiful headshot, that your resume looks good, that you’ve got a good agent, you’ve got a good manager, that you know how to pick an interview, that you audition well, that you know that if you get a part, you’re gonna be able to do everything with it that you feel like you’re going to be able to do. So you already know that you are as good as you can possibly be.

    Tyley Ross:

    And then you sit there waiting. There isn’t much you can do beyond that. You turn yourself into an excellent performer and then it can be very depressing for a performer because then you sit and wait for your phone to ring. For a lot of performers, and I’ve got a lot of friends who had everything necessary to become big stars and be extremely successful. And then for one reason or another, their number just didn’t come up.

    Tyley Ross:

    So my advice is to also think like a farmer, and you take a look at your metaphorical artistic field and you ask yourself, “What do I want to become as an artist? What will be my artistic legacy? If my lottery numbers did come up and I was hired to do the greatest show, my perfect show, what would that be? What would I like to create? So what can I plant in this field?” And that is a daunting thought for a lot of artists because we thrive on being given a script and being given some choreography and the costume and a little piece of tape on the stage that we have to stand on and you sing that song there and you look in this direction and you’re told what to do. And in that you find creative freedom somehow.

    Tyley Ross:

    But if you then take all of those constraints off and you just say, “Okay, here’s your field, it’s your life,” and you can create anything you want there. What are you going to plant in your artistic field? And then maybe what they might find is that what they planted something else is going to grow and then they might decide to go, “Hmm, I’m going to follow that.” Because it turns out in my artistic field, my vision actually creates this. So I came out here to become a comedian, but it turns out I’m a serious monologist. It turns out I’m not funny. I’m profound.

    Tyley Ross:

    And then you must allow for a certain amount of flow, discipline and play in that field where you encourage whatever is underneath the surface to come out. And then having grown something, this is another difficult part, is you have to harvest it. You actually must take it to fruition and that might involve getting some other people on board, getting a producer, getting a director, getting some various coaches to help out with your work.

    Tyley Ross:

    And then finally, the last part is to ticket to market, which is difficult for a lot of artists because I think a lot of the reason that a lot of creatives become the gambler side of the art is because they want to be wanted. We want as artists or audiences to enjoy what it is we do. And in order to get there, we need for creative teams and directors to like what it is we do. Each time I go out in the field, something different grows up there, which is exciting and fun.

    Tyley Ross:

    The likelihood of your lottery number coming up as a winner increases exponentially if you are also developing your creative self and marketing that creative self in such a way that directors are going to see what it is you’re doing. You’re finding your own voice and you’re figuring out what it is you want to do in this world, which people are going to want to use. You should just do something, even if it’s bad, you don’t need to worry about it if it’s bad, because even if it’s bad, people are going to be astonished that you did something because most people are waiting around to be hired. So if you actually go and create something and put it up for people to enjoy and say, “I did this,” people are going to celebrate it. And then in the process it will become better and better.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    The important difference between Tyley who’s able to leverage all of his interests into moving his career forward and someone else who may be spinning their wheels, distracted constantly, is that all the things he does are centered around his core. He’s bringing his true self to everything he does. He brings his own ethic and philosophy to his work. He’s staying engaged and connected to others. All the while being open to the world around him. It’s okay to do one or two or more things, but make sure you’re benefiting from them, that there’s a reason because if there isn’t a reason, then you’ll just feel like you’re drifting and not propelling your career forward.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    One of the resounding themes throughout the whole year has been on authentic storytelling. Whether you work in video, radio or any other storytelling format, the value of authenticity extends across mediums and industries. One of our guests, Ally Pintucci, is notable for the social following she has grown on Instagram. On episode number 25, Ally talks about authenticity from the standpoint of one’s own personal brand as well as your professional integrity.

    Ally Pintucci:

    Social media has been so great for pushing people outside and wanting to get people outside, but it doesn’t actually show those moments of what gear they needed to get to this hike and what the trail conditions were like. And I feel like, especially out here in DC, there are so many people going out because they see things on Instagram and aren’t prepared to be outside. And some of our places around here are getting shut down because people are leaving traces of throwing garbage and bears are in the area. And we know there’s a fire ban here in BC, but a fire just started in Squamish because they think someone had a campfire when they shouldn’t have.

    Ally Pintucci:

    So there’s this struggle I have sometimes with social media being this curated moment because people need to know that sometimes people are just strictly setting up a shot and it’s not real or it could be photoshopped or it was, that tent was set up there just specifically for this photo. And that’s one of the things that I really want to start working on is, how do we actually educate people to be more socially responsible when they’re going outside.

    Ally Pintucci:

    And I think this is starting to hit home with a lot of people out here because there’s a lot of things happening in the outdoors that we’re causing because we’re not being socially responsible and it might be stemming from Instagram photos or these Insta worthy spots that people are finding. It’s really cool to see people getting called out on social media. There are accounts that exist, like there’s one called the, You Did Not Sleep There and they’re basically just taking ridiculous photos of people that set up tents being like, “You didn’t sleep here.” Or accounts that call people out for breaking the rules and saying, “Hey, you have a responsibility to be educating people and letting people know what they should and shouldn’t be doing and posting photos like this.”

    Ally Pintucci:

    If you don’t know anything about the outdoors, people just want to go recreate it. They see it as inspiration and they’re like, “I want to do that.” So it’s this interesting thing that’s going on now. It’s like, “Who’s at fault?” People that go outside without educating themselves or people that promote these photos that have massive reach that aren’t saying, “Hey, this is not real,” or “Hey, these are the steps that you should do if you are going to be going outside.” So that’s actually one of the projects I’m working on with architects here in Vancouver, is putting together a talk on social responsibility and social media.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    It’s important to recognize our own influence over others, whether your art reaches one person or 100,000 people. It’s okay to create in order to inspire thought or intrigue or even to depict a fantasy world, as long as it’s clear that it’s a fantasy and that you’re not setting an unrealistic expectation or an unattainable standard. So be accountable, be honest, and be authentic so that you can serve your audience and your art with integrity.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    And as we wrap up this episode, I want to thank you for giving us the gift of your listenership. We hope that you’ve enjoyed the experts that have joined us along the way and that the lessons they’ve shared have helped to enrich your life. I know that I have certainly gained a lot from connecting with these great minds, and I hope that you’ve also found their insights worth sharing with your colleagues, friends, and your family too.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:

    We look forward to bringing you more in 2018. So please subscribe to ensure that you’re the first to find out when we publish our next episode. In the meantime, you can share your thoughts, your comments, and even guests suggestions with us. You can reach out to us by email at soundstories@voices.com. From both myself and our production crew, I wish you all the best and a happy, healthy, and creative new year. If you’ve enjoyed this Roundup, check the links in the episode description for more content just like this.

    SHARE
    Previous articleSound Stories #30 – The Life of an LA Filmmaker
    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here