Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 1: Happy New Year and Here I go!
Today is the first day of a yearlong experiment in prolific creativity. My goal: To Think Outside The Box Inside The Box and create from what I have for the next 365 days. It is my hope that multiple, redefined clichés will copulate and birth freakishly stunning anti-cliché offspring in the form of entertaining, thought provoking, cinematic experiences that a broad audience enjoys. Losing the desperately hopeful descriptions—I’m going to produce three narrative feature films in 2012. Flowered up or plainly put, I realize this is insanely ambitious or just insane unless, of course, I’m backed by a studio or I’m the 1%. I’m neither.
Just so we’re on the same page of crazy, let me clarify some definitions. At the root of the paradox, Think Outside The Box Inside The Box, for me, is the definition of box. “The box” is simply my life. My life exactly how it currently is—the people,the job(s), the relationships, the living situation, the bank balance, the shoes in the closet, the tools in the tool box—not how I want my life to be or how I wish it was or how I fantasize that it can and hopefully will, one day, be…after I lose that last 10 pounds and win the lottery. Nope. I’m talking about my current life: “the box” I’m existing in right now. To me, Think Outside the Box Inside the Box as a whole concept then, beyond the exhausted mix of clichés, is a verb; “to get creative with what you already have in your life.” It’s like when I’m either too poor, too lazy or have no way of getting to the grocery store but I’m famished. I look in my cupboards. I have a can of kidney beans, a garlic bulb, and a bag of rice. In the fridge is a tomato, half a cucumber and a slice of swiss cheese. I don’t starve, I get creative… I make something from what I have.
First and foremost, the point of this experiment is to motivate me to get off my ass and become Stephen King style prolific in my creative work (for at least a year) before I die. Yes, that’s right, BEFORE I DIE. Don’t panic, Mom and Aunt Wanda, I’m not dying of anything, that I know of anyway, but I’ve reached that “hyper-aware of mortality” stage in life where people my age or close to my age or my parent’s age are and it scares the nonchalance, I’ve got all the time in the world, I’ll start tomorrow, right out of me. Who knew people got sick and died before they were really old? Apparently, I didn’t, and apparently, I’m old…old enough to die. What if I find the lump? What if the weird, two-day case of vertigo signals MS or worse, ALS? What if that heavy period warns of a grapefruit size cancerous tumor growing on an ovary? What if I step off the curb at the wrong moment? What if the world really is going to end when the Mayan calendar does on December 21, 2012? What if, what if, what if! Dramatic? Yes. But, this fear monger thinking wakes me up, snaps me out of my malais, and motivates me to try and do more with whatever life I actually have left. The ultimate cliché is true: Life is short. Especially after you turn 40. They don’t call it a “crisis” for nothing.
Before I get a boob job, lease a Tesla, have an affair with a 26 year old, or audition for a reality show—I have to shake things up. Weird shit happens, time evaporates before I catch my breath. Creating has always been my oxygen mask and I need a hit. Specifically, I need a toke off of Nike’s “Just Do It” bong. The one thing I have not yet created in my career is a narrative feature film. Surprising, since making movies has always been my ultimate career goal. I’ve been trying to get one feature film or another off the ground since I finished my first film short back in 1999. I’ll spare you my painfully long laundry list of almosts, whys and excuses because, bottom line, none of them went into production. I will tell you that I was always attached to star in them. Yes, I’m also an actress and that passion goes hand in hand with my love of narrative film. No, that’s not why the films never went into production, far from it. The tales of ego, fear and temporary insanity of those involved (yes, me) would rival the characters in Hunter S. Thompson’s novels…but that’s getting off topic.
In between not getting my movies made I’ve done work in the periphery; acting in small movies, writing screenplays for movies, starting a business that starts careers in the movies, producing short movies, and my current project, producing a feature documentary movie, which is technically a feature film just a non-fiction one. So, I’m close! Hopefully, throwing down this challenge to think outside the box inside the box will, 1) motivate me to create from what I have in every area of my microcosm, therefore empowering me and reinvigorating my art and my life in the process, and, 2) make my dream of creating narrative feature films come true before I kick.
Steve Jobs said it best: “Almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
I’m with Steve—well, not literally, thank God. Even though I’ve suspected it since I was 27 but secretly hoped I was dead wrong, I now know without a doubt, I’m going to die…and so is every one I know and love…some day. I leave it up to the mad geniuses of the world like Aubrey de Grey and Ray Kurzweil to figure out how to make us live forever. But just in case they’re wrong and the singularity isn’t near, instead of ignoring it, denying it, fighting it off with nanobots, Botox, and herbs, I want to use my impending departure. Every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year I have left, which I pray to all the Gods is a shit load, I want to live, I want to follow my heart. And my heart loves to create. Like a baby’s giggle or an octogenarian’s tales from their past, creating makes me happy. Creating, in and of itself, brings me joy. And I have a hunch that the simple act of creating transforms the creator.
Well, it’s time to find out. It’s time for the experiment to begin. It’s time to be transformed. Wish me luck. Or better yet, do the experiment with me for whatever you want to create. Come on! We’ll inspire, motivate, encourage and hold each other accountable (judgment free) on our journey to create from wherever we are with whatever we have right now and complete our creations. Email me, Facebook me, twitter me, text me, call me, smoke signal me, just get in touch and let me know: What are you going to create?