Originality: the bane of creativity.
Paradise. Escape. A disconnect. These ideas were constantly running through my head on the tarmac. They’re beautiful ideas: go somewhere gorgeous, turn your brain off from the problems in front of you, and relax. DSLR and lenses? Check. Drone? Check. Let's do this. Let's go enjoy your passions, make some cool stuff, and relax in the sun. Hallelujah, god its been a year.
Landing in Honolulu, that feeling swept over me again. Let's just have some pure relaxation and shoot some beautiful scenery. But that creeping doubt came. It roars back every time I'm in this a beautiful situation: “what I’m shooting isn’t original. It’s not unique. You're not unique. People have flown drones here a thousand times. People take video of boats constantly. What makes you unique? Why even bother? This never matters in the end.”
I’ve always struggled with the idea of balancing creativity with originality when creating media. It's rough. How do you strike that balance of shooting what you want while not seeming cliche and overplayed? How do you be genuinely original while still having the creative kick to get out and shoot beautiful things? Do you make every single frame the most genuine thing you have ever shot?
Think about it this way: imagine you are exploring space, and you happen upon a small dusty planet in the depths of vast nothing that you’ve never seen before. It's a new opportunity, a chance to get your name in the stars. You’re excited. Your anticipation grows as the spacecraft wobbles to and fro in the atmosphere. The anticipation builds at the hiss of the spacecraft door, and you take your first steps into that new tomorrow: and see another person’s flag. They named the planet Earth 2. It's on the flag.
And what a dumb name.
But does that dream have to be ruined? Does that mean you are the worst space explorer in the galaxy and you will never be what you want to be?
I don’t think so. Creativity is a funny thing. People tend to believe it’s some river that you have to trek to for the off chance to fill up your 'creativity hydro flask'. 32 ozs of pure creativity. But it’s not like that at all. Creativity, but it’s very nature, is personal. It’s you, and you’re ideas. That you made up. It's not some random stream in the woods, Yeah, maybe you saw something and want to see how would do it. And, yeah, maybe you are collaborating with someone and you developed ideas together. But even then it’s UNIQUE to the both of you. By definition, that means your video is a take on something, even if that take is something very similar to something you've seen before. Through your own lens, you can tell your own story. Through your thoughts and ideas, you can express yourself in a way that you personally have potentially never done before. That’s what makes being creative so exciting. And who knows, maybe that video of paradise will lead to an even better idea that nobody has heard of before. Maybe the planet that you found second will spark the idea to create something better than just a dinky flag on 'Earth 2'. Maybe your skills will progress, and you'll find even more interesting ways to tell your story.
Worst case you end up enjoying one of your passions, right?
My brain always flashes back to a part in Bo Burnham's stand-up special "Make Happy". There is a pitch-black stage, when, suddenly, there are flashes of bright light. Drums start playing, and you can see Bo walking toward the audience in the flashes. He gets closer. The is building. It's intense, you have no idea what is about to happen. The tension builds even further. Your blood pressure increases, the beat crests over its breaking point and....
Bo farts into the microphone.
"Original does not mean good. Anyone can do anything."
So, keep creating. Do anything. Keep being creative and try something that's new to you, and only you. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else around you, they don't see with your lens. See something cool that a video creator did on the internet? Try it out. Experiment with it, see if you like it, and do something creative with the technique. Have fun, use creativity, and live your own damn life.
To quote my favorite teacher of all time: ”Take chances, makes mistakes, and get messy”.
enjoy this footage of Hawaii, even if you’ve seen something like it before.