Last night at the NYTVF Nick Armstrong won Best Director for his series Team A.P.O.C.A.L.Y.P.S.E. Aside from the award Nick received dozens of compliments about his 22-minute comedy pilot. But, they were not just about how funny the show was. There were lots of adulations about how well the characters were set-up and how it seemed like a series that had direction. As someone, who has put out his fair share of short, silly videos, Nick’s pilot makes me think. I was an actor and a consultant on Nick’s project and had a good seat for observing his process.
Process. A process is a functional mechanism for output that is purely unique to each artist. No two artists will have the same process or come to it by the same path. Some may be similar, but no two are exactly alike. What I like about Nick’s process on this project is that he did not allow technology to manipulate it. Rather he manipulated technology and made it fit into the natural course of his filmmaking.
Nick had not directed many things before and never anything this ambitious. He had decided from the get go that this project was going to be his film school. He was going to take the time he needed to learn while working. It took him two years to make his 22-minute pilot. But, now he knows. He knows how he works. He knows what type of people fit well with his filmmaking style. He knows which jobs he can do, which ones he can’t do and which ones he simply does not want to do. He knows how various emotions like fury, fear and despair manifest themselves in his work. But, most of all, he knows his process.
This is not a process that I believe he could have learned from making a three-minute video and throwing it up online. Nick took the time he needed to grow himself and prepare himself to produce his art, his way for a long time to come. This is bravery. This is ambition.
Our technology allows us so many shortcuts and quick tools for creating that it can be difficult to take the time to get to know ourselves and develop a process to best access and represent our creativity. Not everyone needs two years, but I think it is important to make sure that the artists point of view is being served first. The easier it gets to produce product the more important the individual becomes. Only those ambitious enough to grow a strong, clear, personal and distinct voice will stand out from the pack and create enduring content that can truly be called their art.