"...And Make It Real Creative!": Truth In Brainstorming - Or, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Create"

by Andy Capp

Ok, I admit it. Last month's article was a bit of a fairy tale. No, not the part about the rainmaker; he's been doing his job a little too well in the heartland lately. The real myth had to do with getting the staff together for a brainstorming session. Yes, we have held them from time to time here in KELO-land. You probably have too, but come on...how often do you really collaborate with someone when you sit down to create a promo or commercial? Sure, it's a great way to get ideas, but not very practical in our day to day "slam it together it hits the air next hour" business. So, "this is for all the lonely people" (thanks America). Some stuff to stir up the single brainstorm....

STRIKE UP THE BANK...OR THE DISHWASHER!

This is a personal favorite. Many times, when I'm stuck for an idea, I'll grab a legal pad, head to an empty studio, and play a random production music or SFX CD while I write. It serves two purposes: First, music and sound tend to open doors in our "Hall of Memory" where great ideas often go to hide; and second, I've discovered a place for some of those music beds or SFXs that I had previously passed up as "useless" when digging for something that was already written. Imagine, new creative and using available production tools more effectively at the same time! (Just don't tell the boss about this if you've been begging him for a new library.)

TAKE A HIKE!

Have you been staring at a blank piece of paper for 45 minutes? It's time to leave the building. A walk or drive not only gives you a fresh start, but you might see or hear something on the street that will flip on the light bulb. Case in point: the other day I was banging my head against the wall, trying to come up with a promo for one of the zillion little fairs that pop up around here this time of the year. Frustrated, I gave up and headed out for an early lunch. Not two blocks down the road I got stuck behind a truck full of pigs. Great situation -- 85 degrees, 97% humidity, no A/C in my pick-up, the appetizing smell of 72 oinkers wafting back at me...gee, that Whopper was sure sounding good at that moment!

Then I got to thinking; I wonder what those pigs are thinking about? "How come you always get the window seat?" "You know, you're getting fat. You've really been making a person of yourself." "I wish that guy in the pick-up would roll up his windows! I hate the smell of a fat boy on a hot day." "I sure hope we're headed to the fair...." Wait a minute...an angle for the fair promo! To celebrate, I had the pork sandwich.

YOU READ THIS TRASH?

Renew your library card and check out Ripley's Believe It or Not and The Guiness Book of World Records. These two volumes are a treasure trove of unique, strange, and comical possibilities. For instance, you say? In Ripley's, I found a story about a guy in England who had a crowbar driven through his head and lived to tell about it....

(Music up: "Merry Olde England" stuff)

Stuffy British Anncr: "In 1907, Malcolm Tuffnuttle of Manchester England was the unfortunate recipient of a crowbar through the skull in a factory explosion. Malcolm lived another 20 years with the offending metal bar sticking out of his scalp."

(Music Up: "Head banging" Stuff)

Balls to the walls Anncr: "These days, it's a lot easier to add heavy metal to your life...the Pomp Room presents Trasher this weekend, grinding out your favorite Ozzie, Megadeth..." etc..

You can find all kinds of this odd stuff in these books, and when you've tapped them out, look around. The library is filled with trivia, quotations, history, fables, tons of material that will send your creative in all sorts of interesting directions.

I KNOW A GOOD LINE WHEN I STEAL IT

If you're like me, the first thing you do when the new Radio And Production comes in is throw in the new Cassette while you page through the magazine. Let's face it, RAP members are among the most gifted people in the industry (even if we don't get paid that way), so it makes sense that we listen to what everyone else is doing, not only on the day the magazine comes in, but also when we need a good dose of inspiration.

I've personally gotten many great ideas from The Cassette. In fact, while we're on the subject, I have some belated thank yous to pass out: to Dennis Daniel, for the "Be kind to your brain" concept that I adapted for a car dealer, to Rick Robinson for the "Monster Mash" music bed that made my JC's Haunted House promo happen last fall, to Holly Buchanan, John Pellegrini, John Dodge, Flip Michaels, Craig Rogers, and everyone else who has contributed to The Cassette the last few years. You are all a collective "brainstorm" I go to again and again when the well is dry; and if you aren't doing the same, you're wasting your membership!

I'LL TELL YOU MINE IF YOU TELL ME YOURS

There are a few ways to solo brainstorm. I'm sure you have plenty of your own. If something comes to mind, give me a write; we'll share them next month. By the way, while you're at the library, there are a couple of books that are a must read! A Whack On The Side Of The Head and A Kick In The Seat Of The Pants, both by Roger Von Oech. They are both an easy, fun read, and are filled with ways to keep the creative coming!

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