Maker Corner: The Power Behind Tinker Time

Welcome to Maker Corner, our series where we feature guest contributions to our blog from QuickFrame makers.

This month’s post is written by maker Molly McKinney Walker, who is an Emmy-Award-winning TV host, executive producer, and co-owner of both La Storia Productions & LSP Film Rentals.

How carving out time for your team to tinker, try, and fail can help you create your best work yet.

I heard on a podcast recently that our brains are subject to more information in the first fifteen minutes of waking up today, than previous generations experienced over the course of a WEEK just fifty years ago. 

As a proud member of what they’re calling “the sandwich generation”, this actually made me feel a sense of relief. My husband and I run a commercial production company, a production studio, and a film equipment rental business together. We also parent human and canine children and have been helping care for our aging parents. For us (and a billion others in the same boat), “time” these days has almost felt like an elusive gift that, whenever we get it, it’s something to control, harness, or really make the most use of.

That approach then applied to our work meant that in the past, I didn’t see much value (beyond maintaining a happy company culture) in our team spending time “creating” unless there was a signed client contract in place or the hours were billable. 

That’s until my husband, our Head of Creative, and Steve, our Associate Creative Director, came up with Tinker Time. And I can tell you first-hand, our company and work have never been the same since. 

The officially unofficial definition of Tinker Time is intentional, scheduled time (like “on everyone’s calendar” scheduled) for our creatives to tinker, try, and fail in a safe space without the pressures of budgets, on-set clients, overtime, approvals, people-pleasing, set hierarchies, etc.

The execution? At least one Friday a month, we set aside a day for our creative team to try out new concepts, test new gear, and even take a stab at new roles. Sometimes we have fleshed out proof of concepts in mind that we want to show vs. tell a client about. Other times we just want to see if a half-baked idea one of us had in the shower might actually work. But the main takeaway is simple; there’s no pressure or expectations placed on our team to produce anything usable or of value from these sessions. 

The Results of Tinker Time

The result?  Our team has always produced something usable or of value from these sessions.  

And the lessons we’ve learned during them have transcended into many, if not all, of the projects we’ve taken on this year. This was especially apparent on a recent campaign we produced with QuickFrame and MNTN for Balance of Nature. We utilized our tinker time leading up to this shoot to turn our studio into a laboratory of exploring powders.  Then we tested out air pressure rigs to know how to build our own custom system when it came time on the pre-light day.  We camera tested a new slow motion camera and lens package to identify the perfect frame rate ahead of our shoot day. And if you were wondering whether there is a proper technique for the synchronized dropping of fruits and vegetables on-camera, wonder no longer: we tested that too, and there absolutely is.  

Equipped with a crew and clients who were willing to go home looking like they returned from the Holi festival, we entered the Production phase of this project feeling energized, prepped, and confident and delivered a campaign that we’re all pretty darn proud of and celebrates the vibrant colors of this life.

For us, Tinker Time has helped us push our creative farther, given our concepts legs, strengthened our confidence, humbled us on countless occasions, and probably saved our company (and our clients) money in the long run.  

In front of the camera, I host a TV series for NASA, and one of my colleagues over there uses a phrase with his engineers that is essentially, “Failure is not an option. It’s a requirement.” That takeaway is that true innovation and progress can’t be achieved without finding the line and pushing past it.  If we don’t give ourselves space to try, fail, and get lost in the creativity of this craft, are we doing this for the right reasons?

Molly McKinney Walker is an award-winning TV Host, Executive Producer, Science Correspondent & Entrepreneur. 

Today, Molly lives in Colorado, where she co-owns and operates La Storia Productions [an award-winning Production Company serving bold brands and agencies worldwide] as well as LSP Film Rentals [a boutique Rental House and Production Studio that’s modernizing the rental experience to support top-notch crews and productions across Colorado] alongside her husband, RC Walker. In her spare time, Molly enjoys cooking (not to be confused with baking), interior design, sipping adult beverages during sunsets, mountain biking, and building epic pillow forts with her four-year-old son, Conro, and their rescue dog, Ellie. 

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