Why You Need to Trust Your Personal Artistic Process

Welcome to Maker Corner, our monthly series where we feature guest contributions to our blog from QuickFrame’s Maker Community.

This blog was written by QuickFrame maker John-Michael Triana of TRIANA STUDIO. His latest short film, L. A. Rush, is currently in the crowd-funding phase on Indiegogo. This edition discusses John-Michael’s approach to trusting the artistic process as a filmmaker.

Being creative is something an artist cannot control, it comes from an undying need to express themselves.

Artists can’t help the ideas they have, the visions, the thoughts — it’s like a faucet you can’t turn off.

But these ideas have to be produced, they have to move through a means of production, and into some final form. These ideas usually come out a bit different, for good or bad, than initially anticipated, but it’s the process that’s important. That’s where you learn and that’s where you grow. David Lynch discusses this process in depth in Catching the Big Fish, and discuses how an idea has to be transformed and altered and ultimately produced into something, and sticking through it is art.

(L.A. RUSH film still, coursey of TRIANA STUDIO)
(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)

I love this process, but I also hate this process.

It’s hard.

Ira Glass also has a famous quote on the process of discovering your true artistic self. It’s helpful to read if you are just starting out because he talks about a universal feelings all creatives face.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass

You must trust the process.

(L.A. RUSH film still, coursey of TRIANA STUDIO)
(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)

It’s important to follow through with your vision and to keep going, because in my opinion, life isn’t about things just happening it’s about continuing to try and to move forward, it’s about the pursuit of truth, and for artists that truth is usually their self-expression. 

I recently watched the new Kid Cudi documentary A Man Named Scott on Amazon Prime, and I was blown away, I never knew Cudi’s story like that. I found it really inspiring because Cudi is an artist that truly evolved and kept working and pursuing his craft no matter the obstacles, because he had to. He took what Kanye was doing in the early 2000s and enhanced it by being vulnerable and talking about his feelings in ways no one was doing, not to mention blending genres of rock, hiphop and electronic music.

“Cudi just does what he feels, that’s the difference between an artist and others — Cudi’s music connects with people and its healing”  – Kanye West

I also found this quote from Shia LaBeouf valuable because he dials in on why artists have to create.

“I think the best artists all have that, one that, drive, that they feel like they need to, to be able to survive, but also this confidence in that the people on the other side need this s–, that in sharing this with people, healing can happen, not just for the person making the s– but for the person receiving the s–, and in that connection that’s where art is, it’s in that full investment of heart on both sides” – Shia LaBeouf

Another artist I adore is French Director Julia Ducournau and her latest film Titane. One of the reasons I like her work so much is because it reminds me of Claire Denis, a prominent figure of modern French cinema, and also how Ducournau’s her work is raw, brazen, and challenges film norms like a 3 act structure and being constrained by genre. But to me most importantly she stresses the importance of continuing her artistic journey even through crippling anxiety and a year long bout of writer’s block, which ultimately ended in her making Titane, which won the Palm d’Or at this years 2021 Cannes film festival. I admire her ability to pursue her vision no matter what and create work that is different and doesn’t abide by certain film norms.

“Trying to deconstruct and ultimately destroy expectations is my understanding of freedom.” – Julia Ducournau. 

This is why I write screenplays and direct films, because I have to. I have to challenge myself and I want to keep evolving. 

(L.A. RUSH film still, coursey of TRIANA STUDIO)
(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)

Now, in order to be produced, ideas usually need some sort of funding. From paint brushes to time to cameras etc, everything has a cost. For filmmakers, this is why most of us work in advertising, because it provides funds to help us do our personal work. This is how I’ve approached my advertising work and it’s one of the reasons I like working with Quick Frame is because they help filmmakers create projects that are digital, modern, and quick.

(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)
(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)

I think life is all about balance — emotional, physical, political, even philosophical. And this is something I strive to do in my creative work. I work hard for periods of time within the advertising space and then I take breaks to produce personal work, and in my case, its films. 

It can be difficult doing both, I know, but I’ve found creating a schedule, and blocking my time to be very helpful. I use different resources to do this, one of them being Asana. It’s a helpful way to create daily and weekly to-do lists, and allows you to designate certain amounts of time for certain tasks. It also allows you to create deadlines for yourself.

(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)
(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)

When creating my latest film L.A. RUSH, I gave myself a certain amount of time to write the project and get notes on it via Asana. Then during pre-production we used Asana and dropbox as a way for all the department heads to communicate. This is a project we are doing a crowdfunding campaign for to help finish as we went way over budget and are trying to raise funds to cover the overages and to cover our extensive post-production process. We designed a Capsule Collection of products that you will receive in return for donating.

(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)
(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)

I’ve been obsessed with film ever since I was young, there is a certain escapism in film that I’ve always enjoyed. A way to transcend reality and live within a different world, experience a bit of magic. I’ve always gravitated towards fantasy, thrillers, and romance genres, and of course anything 90s I love. 

(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)
(L.A. RUSH film still, courtesy of TRIANA STUDIO)

Here are some of my favorite films:

  • The Matrix
  • Buffalo 66
  • Beau Travail
  • Hairspray 
  • HEAT
  • A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints
  • Young & Beautiful 
  • Fallen Angels 

If I’m ever feeling creatively overwhelmed or not inspired I always turn to an old favorite movie to help me get through the malaise.

And remember, trust the process.

Learn More: Social Media Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

TRIANA STUDIO is a fashion, beauty, lifestyle and film production company based in downtown Los Angeles. They currently have two feature scripts in development and are currently finishing a proof of concept short film called L.A. RUSH

John-Michael Triana is a writer/director, who studied under experimental film artist Kevin Everson at the University of Virginia, and then went on to direct fashion films in New York City before moving to Los Angeles to pursue narrative film. He has a unique point of view, from his background in experimental film and fashion photography, that allows him to create polished, mysterious, and captivating worlds conceived from his deep curiosity in existentialism and romanticism.  


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