One of my favourite parts of pre-production is making mood boards, which out of everything I do in this ridiculous job I made up somehow feels the least like actual work. Not that any of the rest of it feels like actual work; I feel kind of bad when I say "I've been swamped" to people who go to an office every day and have titles they didn't make up for themselves.*
Making a mood board consists of the following steps:
- Sit down with a cup of tea
- Make sure your wi-fi works
- Look at pictures that are sort of like what you want to do
- Put those pictures into a single Photoshop file (Optional, for the lazy)
- Send them along to your team
I understand that from the outside, this does not look like real work. I understand that to the untrained eye this looks like I regularly spend an evening scrolling through Tumblr, and Flickr, and the gigabytes of miscellanea stored in a folder on a computer marked "FUEL."
Anyway, a couple of months ago I accidentally found a way to streamline the process. I have this mutant power, you see, wherein I form a kind of "entropy field" around myself that breaks everything I come across that's more complex than a Game Boy. My friend Carl wouldn't let me near his computer for years because every time I sat down at it, Windows would crash. I keep losing that "FUEL" folder every time a laptop breaks down for no apparent reason.
So I made a Tumblr to keep it all in.
Now, of course, I can just direct people to it, vaguely waving my hand in its direction when someone asks if I have any ideas for this shoot. "Of course I have ideas," I say, implicitly. "I stole them from a bunch of different people. That's how creativity works."
(A piece of advice: never, ever tell anyone that this is how creativity works. If anyone asks, tell them you're inspired by the world around you; by its people; by your mentors, who are your friends and family and the pack of wolves that raised you. Never tell anyone the secrets. Never pull back the curtain. It is too late for me, but you can do better than I have.)
(And maybe it is how creativity works! Who knows? Smarter people than you or I have tried to unpick this whole "art" thing, and we're still no closer, really, to figuring it out on a generic level. "Maybe it's built-in," the smarter people say, "fuck, we don't know.")
*A couple of years ago I got a call from my friend Leanne, who is a speech therapist. She was applying for a new job which required a reference from somebody who held one of a selection of pre-approved occupations. And although she obviously knows a lot of people in the healthcare business, none of them could do it, and so Leanne offered me a pint in exchange for my good word. This because "professional photographer" was on the list, whereas "actual speech therapist" for some reason was not. "This is riduculous," I said. "I literally made up this job. One day I said to somebody, 'hey, I'm a professional photographer now' and it was true." Anyway, thank you for the pint, Leanne.