Stay Feral, My Friends
There’s a video file on my desktop that I watch every week or so.
It’s a Tiktok from Jason Bagley, former ECD of Wieden + Kennedy, where he shares his "five questions to get creatively unstuck."
There’s an incredible irreverence to his banter and the questions, and I watch it to FORCE myself to remember to never take creative work too seriously, which I chronically do.
“Start by making fun of the brief.”
“What’s true about this product or brand that they would never want you to say?”
“What’s the most offensive thing you could do?”
When Alan Beard and I had just started our agency McBeard, we landed a major project: a movie's social campaign for 20th Century Fox. This was 2010 —early days of social media — when the only measure of success was Facebook followers.
I remember how stressed I was. Constantly worried about "getting it right" vs enjoying the work and the experimentation of something completely new. “This is an important HOLLYWOOD FILM, Alan! Quit goofing off!”
The irony was that we had SO MUCH freedom on that first project, to do whatever we thought would work, before social media became so sophisticated and central to overall success, heightening everyone's expectations.
BTW, the “important film” was Vampires Suck (4% on Rotten Tomatoes).
That campaign yielded another, and another, and by the end of a decade, our teams had worked on over 600 movies and TV shows.
It probably took me a year or two before I let up. I was constantly worried that “this project” was our last one, and my death grip nearly squeezed the life out of the work. The stress of making it work almost prevented me from making it work.
Reminds me of Whitney Cummings on Rick Rubin’s podcast this week: “our job — as artists — is to be feral and to remain feral in spite of everything in life trying to domesticate us... make us ‘normal.’ We have to constantly work to reject it.”
You ever found yourself figuring out the balance of professional seriousness and creative ridiculousness? What reminds you to "stay feral, my friends?"
Hope you enjoy. This is post #3 of 30 this month. If you’d like to see the other thoughts, stories and jokes, be sure to: