The Creative Professional’s Toolbox: An Introduction

A short story:

A friend and I attended an event held by the Philadelphia Film Office last year. We were mingling, laughing and munching on fantastic mini cupcakes, when a man passed me. Without saying a word, he dropped a package into my hands and walked off, without even making eye contact.

I showed the package to my friend. “He is at every film event I go to in Philly” she said, rolling her eyes.

As soon as I got home, my partner and I took the pieces of the package apart. Folded in a piece of paper, we found the following:


*Two recordable discs, with “Movies” written on one and “Music” written on the other, both in black Sharpie pen

*A press release on orange construction paper

* A story about the filmmaker, written for a fake publication

Not long after we hit “play” on the CD marked “Music,” we realized that it was just a play list of songs. Pretty good songs, but not songs from his work like we thought.

Next: The CD marked “Movies.” It was a mix of interviews, clips from some of his films, and heavy use of Word Art and the “flying” transition effect.

After my partner and I stopped laughing, we realized something: Regardless of the filmmaker’s taste level, he was 1) Productive and 2) Getting his message out there, two things that are essential to making a living as a creative professional. It was clear, however, that he had not taken time to develop his craft, cultivate resources, and evolve his taste level. The production value of his work was woefully poor, as were his marketing methods. Sure he got his work into my hands (literally) but he didn’t engage me. I’m not checking for his future projects, other than for more examples of what NOT to do.

This post is the start of a weekly series on called “The Creative Toolbox.” It’s about the balance we must navigate in order to create creative careers that are 1) Fulfilling, 2) Sustaining (financially and creatively) and 3) Productive.

I’m writing this series as someone who is putting my creative toolbox together, and helping others do the same. I will share my methods, reflections and the resources that I’m using. Even though this series will have a “how-to,” vibe, it is coming from a “how-I” place. The most important thing I have learned thus far is there is no “right way” for everyone, just the right way for you.

Stay tuned as I blog about finding my “toolbox.”


What do you think?