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07/23/2002 - THE BEST IDEA WINS


Dear Friends,

"If there's anything around here bigger than my ego, I want it hunted down and shot."

That, roughly, is from HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY and it describes that mood we all get into now and again where our ego gets in the way of an idea, script, or project.

For the past few months, I've been working in collaboration with some extremely talented people on some commercials. I've learned a great deal about my own collaborative process. All too often in the past, I've either been the main contributor, or I've been very junior to the person I'm working with. The dynamic of the relationship affected the outcome, and weighed the project heavily toward the most experienced collaborator.

I guess this time through has been the first time where my collaborators and I shared a similar level of experience. Of course, they're all far smarter than I am, so that helps them to put up with my annoying habit of hanging onto a pet idea as if it's my childhood dog.

You have to trust me when I say that I'm really an excellent collaborator. To the casual observer, my ego isn't even the least bit involved. But I know better. I know that I have a habit of becoming passionate about an idea, and sometimes closing my ears a little bit. Still, as long as I'm aware of it, it's all right, right? Well, not always, especially if it holds a project from reaching its potential.

In any case, the lesson I've learned from all of this is that, in the best collaborations, the best idea wins. In looking back, I can recall working with people far more experienced and successful than me, and found that many of them operate by this same principle.

And now, as we near shooting, I couldn't be happier. The project has continually moved up to new heights because it involves the collaboration of several extremely talented others. That alone is worth smiling about, but I'm also happy over the lesson I've learned about collaborating with good people, and about being watchful of the feral tendencies of my ego and other attitude problems.

The best ideas have won. Now we go shoot.




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