Creative leadership tips

Happy New Year!

I hope you’ve had a great holiday with enough relaxation, inspiration and love to kick start your new year.

I relaxed with a feast of films both new – Whiplash, Force Majeure and Mommy – and old – The Big Lebowski which is still a favourite.

One of the films that stood out for me was a documentary about the (un) making of Dune, Frank Hebert’s classic science-fiction book.

Some call it the greatest movie never made. Like many of these types of films – Lost in La Mancha or Heart of Darkness – we get a behind-the-scenes look at what can go wrong and that bit of madness involved in getting a film on to the screen.

In the documentary, the charming director Alejandro Jodorowsky speaks so passionately about his attempt to get the book off the page. His vision for Dune and his ideas about how he would produce this science-fiction classic were fantastic.

If you’re thinking of starting a major project in 2015, here are some of the creative leadership lessons I gleaned from the documentary.

Dream big

Jodorowsky hadn’t read the book when he agreed to take on the picture. A friend had read it and thought it was fabulous so he said “Yes.” He then turned his mind to making it into a film – his film – and it was larger than just pure entertainment. “For me, Dune will be the coming of a God. I want to make something sacred, free with new perspective.”

Find the right people to share the dream

Jodorowsky was clear that he only wanted spiritual warriors as part of his team. He interviewed them to make sure they had the right sensibility to help him with his vision. Although a special effects person had great success with 2001: A Space Odessey, Jodorowsky didn’t want to work with him, dismissing him as too technical. He just didn’t have enough heart for the project.  For over two years, his team worked to produce the Dune bible with over 3,000 storyboards.

Bring out the genius in people

Everyday Jodorowsky made a speech about the project and how important each of the artists were to its success. He saw his role as creating an environment where the creatives could do their very best work, without interference.

Even though Jodorowsky’s Dune was judged by studio heads as too expensive, he saw his vision as a success. The artists who worked on his Dune went on to shape and influence filmmaking in other science-fiction pictures such as Aliens and Star Wars, something he was immensely proud of.

Mark your calendar

DGC’s Leadership Lab, Toronto, January 16-18

If you want to unlock the genius within your team, I’m facilitating a leadership lab for the Directors’ Guild in Toronto from January 16 to 18.

Here’s what other participants have said about the program:

“It was fantastic. Everyone can learn from it.”

“Too many positive experiences to come away with. I feel I have some new tools to think about and use to help me with my current issues – very helpful.”

“I’m leaving this workshop feeling empowered. This is an incredible gift.”

If you’re interested and are a member of the DGC, get in touch with Cristy Becker.

From Start to Screen workshop, London UK, January 24

If you have an idea you want to move from the idea stage to the screen, come to this one-day workshop to gain the skills necessary to pitch your idea.

For more information contact:

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