Bravery Thrives with Fresh Constraints

Brainwave Communications Ltd.

Source: Rob Lenois / Think With Google

The best storytelling is born of extremes—the human stories that come from the edges. Creative extremes can be anything: a shoestring budget, difficult talent, a harrowing story, or a seemingly impossible format limitation.

Take the short documentary film Zion by Floyd Russ, a powerful portrait of young wrestler Zion Clark who was born without legs. While I can’t quote dollars, I’m pretty sure it was told for less than the price of a typical 15-second commercial.

As creatives, we’re often jealous of what seems like the blank canvas—or seemingly blank-check budget—of Oscar-winning films or best-selling authors. But at Sundance, I was reminded that constraints force a braver kind of storytelling. It takes courage and creativity to make the impossible possible. Constraints come with the need to make choices.

Take the constraint of time. Relevant example: How might we tell a universally beloved storybook tale, like Little Red Riding Hood, in six seconds? A seemingly impossible creative task. But by letting go of the linear storytelling that follows “beginning, middle, end,” we can open a new world of possibilities.

When we as creatives are brave enough to view these familiar themes through the lens of contemporary events and societal constructs, we can inspire modern stories to connect with contemporary audiences, just like the originals.