Fail Already! What we Learned about Video from Legos!

Erik here, partner in Clear Summit Productions (CSP), a Colorado-based video production company. Before CSP, I had been a successful still photographer for over 15 years. About five years ago I knew I needed to do video. CSP had just been born and Jeremy and as a new company, we didn’t have any real productions on our plate yet. Jeremy had a couple of years of video experience both shooting and editing. I had taken a video class in high school and done only a few camera-operator gigs since. I knew a bunch about cameras and lights. And sure, I’d done stills productions — even big ones — but motion productions? Scary. As Jeremy Jacob (also partner in CSP) described it: “stills is like juggling 4 balls at once; motion production is like juggling 20 at once.” True. Way more to keep track of, and mistakes are harder to fix. So I had to come up with a way to learn all I could, as fast as I could, without creating a disaster for a client. Solution: make my own miniature production. Really miniature. Lego Duplo.

It was the perfect low-threat, low-cost training exercise, so I undertook it. I conceived a story, wrote a script, assembled the crew (me), and got the camera cranking. Self-teaching — by failing — was about to begin. What did I learn when done?

1. Growth requires failure.

Reading about it (or watching other films) is no substitute for actually DOING it. And when mistakes happen, learning happens.

2. Start.

There are 10,000 reasons, complications, and unresolved questions before any project. So don’t answer them all. Don’t wait for all clouds to clear. Get just enough together to get rolling and don’t lose momentum, even if it means rough edges.

3. Call it done.

This is a learning exercise. Don’t make it the project that never gets done. Heck, THIS project nearly didn’t get finished. I shot it maybe 4? 5? years ago and never edited it till just now. Yeah, I learned in the shooting, but should have finished it long ago. I’d have learned important things sooner.

4. Let it go. [please, no singing]

Yes, this was a learning exercise, so it’s easier to let go of it. But even the “real” jobs we do can haunt us with “I could have/should have done XY & Z differently.” Sure. That’s growth. Learn what you can from it and let the past be a teacher, not a constant nagging companion.

The video is a far cry from a “real” Clear Summit Productions piece. You can see plenty of those on our portfolio page and Vimeo channel. This exercise isn’t any of those things. But what it was, a learning exercise, was in fact very valuable. It led directly to me being a better, more valuable partner in Clear Summit Productions and has born fruit in projects for many different clients. So how about you? What do you need to learn? How can you put together a low-threat, low-cost, high-yield learning experience? You should come up with one of your own. We’d love to hear about it! Post your comments, link, things you learned below.

Production note: shot on a Canon PowerShot s100 pocket camera and edited in PP CC.

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