Struggling to get new ideas down? Sandra Townsend reports back from the Ignite Creative Development Workshop at the recent Nations and Regions Media Conference with some top tips.
This workshop attracted a range of participants, from producers, directors, editors and writers to researchers and students; none of us knew what to expect. The session was geared around analysing the creative process and using this understanding to generate ideas that feel fresh and exciting (at one point we even discussed neural pathways and psychology).
We began by looking at branding and tailoring content to broadcaster needs. For inspiration we looked at popular advertising campaigns which challenged conventions, like Persil’s “Dirt Is Good” campaign. Then came the hard part: we were set our own brief. With ‘sex’ as our theme we had to create an idea for a factual TV show aimed at the 9pm slot on Channel 4.
During the process I learnt that it’s usually best not to go with your first idea. It is often the most obvious and others will have had the same idea too. This is because, from an early age, we’re taught to make associations between things to help us understand the world around us, like associating shoes with feet. Taking some time out to think through the first thing that comes into your head and writing it down, no matter how ridiculous, can generate fresh ideas. Looking at things from the perspective of a child or an alien was a very helpful tip.
Great ideas don’t just come from creative people (although it helps); you also need to think about the needs and restrictions of the TV industry and tailor your idea to it. Another significant factor which is often overlooked is the cultural impact of your idea. Is it about something that people discuss or want to discuss? Is it a taboo subject? Why should we care? Is it authentic and representative?
Tips to help with creativity
- List conventions and think about how to break them
- What new cultural insight does your project provide?
- Work in an inspiring environment.
- How would you respond to the following: Why should I buy creative content from you? Why are you the best person for the job?
Sandra is a BAFTA Youth Board member, TV addict and Science graduate. She’s written for EastEnders: E20 and is currently working on a series of online science videos and co-writing a play for BBC Radio drama.