The Mutual Benefits of Collaboration
Most of the times I’ve completed a creative project, I couldn’t do it without the help of others. Every film I’ve made, the book I wrote, the music I work on, those all came to life with third party helping hands. In some instances, it’s inevitable: making a film completely by yourself, a good one for that matter, is nearly unheard of. And sure, I could have done the book and music route alone, but getting my friends to share their input and contribute to the process has been incredibly beneficial to shaping my ideas.
It’s a relief to find someone you enjoy working with. Unfortunately sometimes the only way to know if you like working with someone is when you actually do it. I enjoy working with my creative friends because I know they’re smart individuals who actually care about what we’re making. And one of the reasons I know this is because a lot of what we do is out of the labor of love. We don’t make millions off these films or books or songs. We don’t even make enough to do this stuff full time. What I personally gain from this is experience, pride, and happiness, seeing a vision of mine (or ours) come to life. Not to mention, it’s also fun. If this wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.
What we can also gain is the development of ideas. My approach towards new ideas has greatly changed over the past few years, and one of the reasons for that can be attributed to working with others. Here’s a prime example: when Anthony and I worked on the script for the film Consumer Beware, we worked off each other’s strong points, and weak points, to bring a balance of dialogue and action. I tend to write more dialogue-driven scenes, while Anthony tends to write more action-driven scenes. Working with others can also give you the realization that maybe your idea isn’t so great. Maybe someone else can come along and offer a better camera angle, a better word choice. It’s funny – sometimes we have such high regard for our own ideas until someone else comes along and makes you think, ‘well, I didn’t really think of it that way.’ And then you throw your own idea out the window. Or maybe you don’t because, who knows, maybe one day that idea will come in handy again. I have poems from early high school that are saved in Word documents that could one day be salvaged. There’s a good chance they won’t be, but hey, at least they don’t take up much space on my hard drive.
Recently I met up with Ryan over at Venture & Vice (ventureandvice.com) and one of the many topics we talked about was collaborating on a future project. Collaborating maximizes the happiness of everyone involved when it is mutually beneficial. In this instance, Ryan gave us some of his company’s shirts and in exchange we took photos of him and will be taking more photos of ourselves in said shirts to advertise his brand more. In my eyes, that’s a win-win.
Here you are, full of ideas, and here is another human, just as full of ideas as you are. And then you can add more people to the bunch. The possibilities are endless, and sometimes collaboration is necessary to get from where we are to where we want to be, especially when we’re all in it for the same common goal.
Zach Benard is the co-founder of Hammer & Bear Co., a creative studio based in MA. He is also the author of The Lost Islander and the director of Consumer Beware. You can find more of his work at www.zachbenard.com.