Creativity is at its best, or at least its most fun, when things feel fresh and new–like that rush of discovering some amazing technique or sound or move for the first time. Over time, however, the creative sparks that once ignited passion can dim as things start to feel comfortable, routine, a little boring.
Filmmaker Bianca Giaever captures that spirit of unfettered, optimistic creativity with her short film New York City! Created with five other recent post-grads who’d recently moved to the Big Apple to pursue the arts, the film was an experiment with very little direction. After musing to a friend that she wanted to create something that combined dance, radio, and film, she was introduced a group of strangers who all agreed to spend four days together and commit to making something on the fifth day.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m meeting with five strangers and we’re going to make something for no reason other than we’re young and open to trying something. And we were open to making anything, anything at all,” says Giaever. “On the first day I was incredibly nervous because I’ve never done anything so loose like this. It was so unguided.”
Drawing on her experience as a radio producer and filmmaker (her other films include The Scared Is Scared and a piece called Crush), Giaever wrote down a list of questions like “What are your New Year’s Resolutions,” “How does your Mom dance,” and “Tell me about your last relationship” and everyone got talking. From these stories, patterns emerged. Each of the people involved were around the same age, recent grads, and they’d all moved to NYC the same month to pursue the arts. These shared experiences formed the basis of the film.
“There was lots of talk about being in New York and trying to figure out what you’re doing every day and how you stay motivated to keep making things. And so on the last day we came together and recalled our favorite things that other people said and quickly recorded those lines. They were really disjointed but the goal was to just express the feeling and energy we all had about being in the city.”
The film is rather whimsical and not necessarily speaking to any greater goal that just being a bit of fun, but at its core it exudes that naïve and infectious promise of unstructured creativity. It’s also a good reminder of how letting go of purpose and process can be creatively stimulating.
“It’s not good to do every time because it would give me a heart attack but every once in a while it’s a great exercise,” Giaever says, noting that the undefined time at the beginning was crucial to getting to the point of making. “We wouldn’t have been able to make this if we hadn’t spent time together first. The film is incredibly playful and I don’t think we would have been able to do it if we hadn’t laughed a lot for a few days and really gotten to know each other deeply. It was ok that we weren’t moving towards making something for the first few days because a big part of it was getting comfortable with each other and making room for play.”