I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks

Came across a blog post today from Stage 32 featuring a couple of videos that might be of interest to creative types that might want to download them into their brain (see what I did there? A truly terrible attempt at a joke. That’s what you call a first draft, and would cut in editing.)

The first video is a unicorn for me, something I knew existed but has been hard to find. I’ve only ever seen ten minutes of it and was amazed by it: Michael Caine on Acting For Film. THE Michael Caine, teaching actors film techniques, filmed for a British production quite a few years ago. Caught part of it on PBS when I was younger, and even though I am not focused on the acting field, the techniques he displays and his passion for the work are inspiring.

PLUS: It’s easily adapted to directing tips, to screenwriting and storytelling. It would even help you if you are just taking a meeting. Caine advises you to “pick an eye”, and shows why.

But if I’m talking to you, and I don’t blink,
and I just keep on going, and I don’t blink….

He goes into methods for holding focus, grabbing attention, and simple tricks to hit your mark, demonstrating everything. Filmmakers: send this link to your actors. He’s not teaching for stage, but he makes comparisons and you can see those differences yourself and find things that would help whatever your venue, like being smaller or bigger with your performance without upstaging.

I’m not going to delve too far into it, because there’s so much here you will find different things than I do.

The second video is from Actualized.org, covering techniques on How To Overcome Creative Blocks and Writer’s Block. Even if you have writer’s block and you watch it and it doesn’t help you, you can tell yourself you were trying to be productive for thirty minutes and feel better about yourself, right? (I guarantee that’s not in the video, nor is it the best tip ever. But we all do it!)

This clip is a little more valuable than that, though. (Spoiler alert: it starts with commitment.)

Click here for the Stage 32 blog post with the videos

Just do it. No apologies to Nike. Why would you steal such a powerful statement and apply it only to shoes?


P.S. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Michael Caine:


Overcoming Creative Blocks is here:

P.P.S.  I successfully broke my writing addiction when I was younger (don’t do it!) but I still write (just a little less obsessively). Which was probably a mistake. I’ll talk about that another time.

But I always said I never got writer’s block. This is true in one common perception of the term: I don’t run out of ideas. But I do block myself from writing when I should, and that’s an even more insidious issue that I will be addressing with help from sources like this one.

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks was originally published on Creative Uploads


Capture Creativity Quick

So one of the difference between successful people and — let’s say less successful people? — isn’t the ideas. It’s sharing them. It takes a lot of work, but we can take the first step very easily.

If your goal is producing creative content, jokes, stories, music, art, whatever…. the trick is to capture the inspiration when you have it even if you can’t devote time to it when it first arrives. It doesn’t have to be finished; you are writing a note to your future self. It can be a sketch or fragment, it just needs to last long enough that you can work on it more, or remember enough to build on it, even years later!

I’m going to talk about musical creativity, but this works for all sorts of inspirations. ’80s pop star John (Cougar) Mellencamp wrote the lyrics to one of his hit songs on the shower door with soap. Who knows how many books and businesses have been built on the backs of bar napkins? I’ve chanted things to myself all day while avoiding just writing them down, kept a notepad by my bed — though now I’ll actually write notes to myself on my phone with a stylus –- which may or may not be better than my previous habit of just getting up for an hour in the middle of the night to write whatever song started when my head hit the pillow.

Countless songwriters have sung into tape recorders over the ages or scribbled down notes . With my first camera capable phone, I would record one-handed the melody that had come to me in 15 second video clips. Sometimes, like this example, I angle my iPad on my music stand so that I can see where my fingers were later.

The improvement on this is that now as soon as I’ve come up with the fragment of a song on any instrument, I turn on the electric piano and record the phrase and following improvisation via MIDI direct into a computer. (GarageBand on iPad works pretty good too in a pinch.) Not only does this give me the exact notes I played in the very improvisation I am building on, but it means that I can edit them, fixing glitches in my spontaneous phrasing, or creating a complete arrangement on top of the original sketch and eventually moving the first take out of the mix completely.

So much easier than my early attempts with cassette tapes. Heck, I once spoke the first chapter or so of a book I never wrote into a cassette recorder while hiking, that’s hilarious to listen to. (You don’t know if I’m pausing because I needed to breathe or I didn’t know what to say next.)

Anyway, my point is this applies to anything that you want to capture organically and move into the future as a more polished product. You don’t need to rely on your memory, and you certainly don’t need the conceit that if you forget it later, it wasn’t that good an idea. Don’t be a baby: write it down or capture it, and let your future self figure out that sometimes it’s crap and sometimes it’s not.

And if you end up with too many fragments of stuff to get to, oh darn why is that a problem? Learn to filter through it and work on your favorite thing until you have something done, then climb back on the pile and see what’s next.


P.S. For the record I often use S-Note on my aging Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for writing things down, and I love Evernote but now that it is free for only two devices at a time, I am trying desperately to use Microsoft OneNote which I find much more cumbersome and harder to search. It seems like OneNote wants you to have everything local before you can search, where Evernote searches in the cloud so you can pull down what you are looking for.

I really wish there was a reasonably priced plan for Evernote that gave me more devices but the tiny amount of monthly bandwidth that I really use. The upgraded plans are still too much of a stretch for the mostly casual user.

Capture Creativity Quick was originally published on Creative Uploads

Build A Better Mousetrap

“And the world will beat a path to your door.” That’s the saying, isn’t it?
I don’t know why the mice-killers get all the foot traffic, but I get it. Who wouldn’t want to be able to mass murder cute little rodents? (I wonder what Walt Disney would counter with. I suppose he just made better mouse)

creative uploads mousetrap photography dream inspiration

Of course the point was, if you can improve upon something simple with something just as effective but better, people will want it. Doesn’t even have to be cheaper. (Heck, these days a lot of people think more expensive is better. Suckers.)

Now in the creative engineering field that’s a good goal, but in the creative entertainment arena, better is relative. I write songs, for example, and I think some of them are just as good or better than songs by some of my musical heroes. That’s my opinion of course, but we all start with our own opinion, so there I go. Some of them, not at all.

So a better song than the pied piper, I suppose.

For creative types with more arbitrary measurements, this phrase could be reduced to “build better.” And measure against yourself. And while I write songs, I’ve properly recorded only a few with any patience and care. That’s the “building” part I’m leaving off. (Something my heroes excelled at.)

Goals are funny complicated things that we think are easy. We come up with the end of them in a snap. But even a complete basic mousetrap has a process. You have to prepare the cheese, set the spring, and put the trap carefully in the right spot to get to the snap in the first place. Also watch your fingers.

Build better. One step at a time. You can make many complicated steps or a few simple ones; it depends on what kind of cheese your mice likes, and how long you are willing to spend to get to your goal, but realize it’s more than one step. Build.

And once you have the staircase…. it’s a snap.


P.S. I didn’t have “Mousetrap” when I was a kid, just the commercials and friends with the game, so I loved it of course. Never got the chance to be bored with it. Friends always have the shiny stuff you never get to play with, while you are stuck at home on rainy days ignoring the boring toys you never bother to play with that make your friends envious. I have a bunch of creative toys now I am just waiting for a rainy day to play with, because I figured out a trick to try. It’s even in two steps:

  • Pretend they aren’t my toys so they seem fresh.
  • Point a hose at the roof so I can imagine it’s raining.

P.P.S. This works for all sorts of things, music, writing, photography and video projects. Heck, grocery lists if you like to buy more interesting stuff when shopping. But if you’ve read this far you’re probably creative enough to figure that out, so this is a just a complimentary confirmation bias.

Build A Better Mousetrap was originally published on Creative Uploads

Pool Your Resources

 Photo: Summer’s End.

Was writing a little about My HAMILTON experience the other day and how creativity could be like putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together, but an invisible one made of glass. Rather like a mosaic that doesn’t get its color until it’s complete. (Mosaic also is  name of this Prisma style .)

And today while contemplating expensive but necessary pool repairs, the perpetual dance between available funds and places to send it, or try to save it, has me thinking about balance and leverage.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to save money while still doing creative projects, and saving money taking time finding alternate methods, and mental energy working around limitations. I’m okay with that, spending six months researching things on and off before deciding to buy or not. Got some real quality stuff by being patient. 

But I’ve also embraced faster purchases on occasion, times I have done the math and realized that amortizing something over time pays other dividends once I already own it and can use it to do things easily and quickly.

It’s tricky. I don’t want to get good at buying new toys that I want and don’t use right away so I start chasing toys for the thrill of buying, but rather that I already have or create a need that lets me immediately put a new toy to use, justifying the purchase and rewarding me with a chance at producing something; to me that’s more rewarding than the temporary thrill of shopping. 

So balancing time (being money) and money (taking time to get) and leveraging opportunities to use these things to your advantage. For the artistic side it is to create, but it may be to obtain, or experience, or even avoid. We all have different pieces that make up our mosaic, close for the details and farther back for the big picture.

And then there are the times when you just have to repair something you already have. Good thing I save some money when I can. Like having dragged out this repair from last year. 


P.S. Now if you need something useful you could visit my Amazon Affiliate page

P.P.S. Not a single pool pun or metaphor. Not even when I could have related tile with the mosaic reference. So proud of myself. Oh crap, I started with that title. Well after that….gotta go.

Pool Your Resources was originally published on Creative Uploads

Wait for it

And then snap the picture you want, instead of “almost the picture” you want. Or take a bunch of pictures as you fine-tune your angle, your subject and background, and your settings, then share the only best one, which is the one you want to get in the first place if you could only take one picture.

AKA Get all your ducks in a row.

Editing means tossing out anything that’s not needed, and sometimes that means you didn’t have to touch what you kept.

These is my philosophical intention although I have major problems with the throwing things out and with not sharing.


P.S. Tweaked in Snapseed for exposure but not Photoshopped or repainted in anyway.I would have taken that extra double duck out. But then he may be the exception that proves the rule.

P.P.S. I followed them around for a while…

Wait for it was originally published on Creative Uploads