How do *you* brainstorm? (1) Tools of the trade

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By Adam Daniel Mezei - my partner in crime for my new film 'The Inner District'

Yes indeed, even your PMD gets down and dirty with the hardcore nitty-gritties of film production on more than just the observer level every now and again…

For those of you who weren’t previously aware, I’m a classically-trained screenwriter and do dabble every now and again in the craft. After a considerably long hiatus from writing my own stuff and shooting my own movies, I’ve now got a small project in the works and with the slower summer period now’s the most suitable time to get this puppy mounted. Blogs are not my only outlet pass. ;-)

So…on that level, I’ve been on the road in full-on “creative mode” since the beginning of this week. Since I’ve been going through the brainstorming motions with my writing partner for the past 72-plus hours, this sort of explains my absence from the blog, but rest assured, your regularly-scheduled programming is still on offer.

In any event, in light of how much brainstorming we’ve been doing I thought it might behoove me to slap up a post or two in the coming days about our brainstorming process and how creatives go about developing the ideas for their various works.

Today’s going to be an easy one about tools of the trade.

The above graphic is an A2-sized sample of a very early draft of our protagonist’s characterization, attributes, and motivations. It’s fashioned according to a little structure we’ve cooked up for ourselves which is totally adaptable to your unique circumstances, so feel free to riff off on it as you think necessary.

We decided that for us the essentials were:

  • a lot of space.
  • stacks of notebooks and good quality paper with lots of white space on the page.
  • colored (and functioning!) markers (a point which cannot be underestimated whatsoever), and
  • a solid internet connection, on demand.

…the latter, in particular, because we wanted a means of researching stuff the instant an idea popped in our heads. We didn’t want to jot something down in a public place, only later to access the idea online long after the motivation completely disappeared. Or, if we had a certain level of juice and were on a solid roll, we didn’t want it to suddenly dissipate because we didn’t have a way of delving into a few simple links, a process which would otherwise consume a ton of time = waste.

So far, the process has been functional, fun, and we’ve been hammering down a lot of ideas and making due progress. Like your indie film, there’s a story within the story, and for us our process has been equally narrative-worthy.

But back to tools…having the right ones really shouldn’t be underestimated.

As a writer who still enjoys employing “analog”-type methods to get his ideas out into the world – especially when it comes to letters and general correspondence (I still send real posted letters to a select coterie of very close intimates and friends) – just about the worst thing to throw off my A-game are dull pens or instruments that are totally the wrong color (blue as opposed to black please!), or even poor-quality paper — as in loose sheets which can get crumpled or lost – combined with a host of other physical conditions that must absolutely be met if I’m to be an effective creative and contributing partner.

Establishing the right conditions for a bout of spirited creativity is paramount, and if we weren’t practicing what we preach I’d say just ignore us. But it seems to be working…

Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries

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About the author


My filmmaking career started in Germany as special fx make-up artist on an underground Zombie flick (“Mutation“, released on DVD in 1999) followed by producer & screenwriter credits on several other shorts (e.g. “Killerbus“, released on DVD in 2004). I got hooked. Even though I have a design masters from…

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