For me, the creative process goes roughly like this:

1.) Idea/spark of inspiration
2.) Slaving away at said idea
3.) No longer knowing whether or not what you’re working on is garbage

That #3 is almost always inevitable, and it’s really a funny little bastard. Because on one hand, you remember believing in your idea. You know that you’re not an idiot, and that you know at least a little of what you’re doing. But something about getting lost in a piece of work (and of course, the more time you spend on it, the worse this phenomenon gets–see my article on “deadlines”) really causes one to lose site of the beautiful and rare little gem which is the subject of this post. Objectivity.

The funniest part of it is how polarized your feeling of satisfaction can be: you can go from this total submersion in the work, giving it your all and feeling truly proud of it, to suddenly sitting at the back of a screening room, with an audience for the first time, and not having the slightest idea whether or not they will like it. Whether or not what you’ve just created is any good. Not for nothing, but that’s why they do test screenings, I suppose.

I know that, especially in this community, the world of production seems to be moving more and more to the one-man-show approach. And yes, sometimes it’s nice to keep the proverbial dicks out of the soup, but as a director I really value having my people around me. How often do you write a first draft of a script which seems to you to be really good? And then you show it to someone and they mark it up all red like you’re back in grade school. Of course they’re right…the first draft is rubbish. Thank god you did that second, third and fourth draft. And then on set–what would I do without my DP? Without a production designer with her own unique opinion to my own? And, for the love of god, what would I do if I didn’t have my editor step in after I’d spent hours cutting something I had already spent days shooting?

I think that ultimately it’s not a reflection of one’s talent, or self-worth. I mean, sure, there are probably people out there  who can sit in a room, create a piece of art without anyone’s input in the matter, and it turns out “flawless.” But for the rest of us, objectivity in our work is like objectivity in anything else. Often times we have the best intentions. All we want is the best, most optimal outcome. But without someone else keeping us in check, we get a little carried away with ourselves.

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.