Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Drive, be Driven or drown in creative media, film & videojournalism

Videojournalist David Dunkley Gyimah filming in Egypt behind the scene filming Tahrir Memento

The stories we hear, the one's that stick with us are narratives about individuals, who possess definable qualities. 

One of these is what the art world calls provenance -  a back story that provides a deep level of interest.

A painting found on a rubbish dump is picked up by a fisherman, who gives it to his daughter. 20 years later she comes across it in her loft and has it looked at. Turns out its worth a fortune and Sotherby's expect a bonanza sale which will make the struggling daughter, now a mother, a millionaire many times over.

It's an interesting story in itself, before provenance kicks in. 20 minutes before the sale, Sotherby's receive a call to halt the sale, a gentrifed family, providing a whole new different back story is claiming the picture was stolen from them 20 years ago

They have no evidence of the theft, but they can prove it's theirs.  And they will only give the daughter 25% of the sale. The painting is now worth considerably more.

In all of us lies a back story, but it's knowing how to tap into it, how it can be harnessed and how it serves as a source of intrigue or inspiration, and to whom.

Where you're from, how you got here and where you're going matter.  Curtis Jackson's story aka 50 Cent I recently watched on MTV, like many rappers, is steeped in provenance, as is one of the world's most famous men's designers, Ozwald Boateng, proving its not exclusive to art.

The Backstory is...

David with Ozwald Boateng at the Mayfair Club
No one starts of famous or well known, unless they're born into privilege. Ozwald Boateng answered the call: Drive, be driven or drown, and has the most fascinating back story.

From outside tailoring stock, he penetrated the hallowed lines of Saville Row. A Brit, with Ghanaian parents dared to think the impossible taking to designing in his teens. In the 1990s he staged a fashion shoot in Russia, then several fashion shows in Paris before making his way into the Brit psyche. 

I might know because I have known him for more than 20 years and directed one of his first features back in the days when we would hang out in his Ladbroke Grove home,where he would struggle to fit the stars. 

Today, Will Smith, Samuel L Jackson, Royalty... there are few stars he has not dressed.

Creatives driven to the top have provenance and its the back story that provides currency for as many times they might drowns, but come back again.

Licked by life's fires these individuals scour new peaks on a regular basis.  The higher they go the more rarified the air becomes. Fires can't burn without oxygen. New challenges await them.

Drive, be driven or drown, should be your mantra for 2013 - if it isn't already and you want your provenance to work.

Rewind to the beginning of this tale. There is no institutional, common place way of doing things that you frankly want. You, me et al are searching for ourselves somewhere within the text, beats, zoom, and digital movements of someone else that we can make our own.

But how?

The answer as a blueprint, though personal stories differ, is: 
  1. Scare yourself to do that thought-thing. The one that's been weighing on your mind.
  2. Share ideas as collaborative goals. BTW collaboration is not a recent Net phenomenon. If you've read Stephen Covey's 1989  international best seller: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I recommend it where he talks about interdependence. 
  3. Learn what you can from wherever you can and then carve your own niche. 

Provenance and purpose

A friend starts a new job today. I'm wishing her the very best. Quietly driven, she has provenance and a story to tell which partly inspired this post. It brings me back to:  Drive, be driven or drown.

This alliteration is life's journey and in finding it in others, it made me self reflect on its application.  A note of caution though, provenance depends on you the recipient deciding its level of interest, not me the teller believing in its sense of importance.

Part 2 continues here