One of the first classes that I took in art school was a one-on-one directed study with the chair of the film department called “Creative Identity.” In it, through conversations about the films that inspire, fascinate and resonate with us, he would help each of us think about and ultimately articulate a unique identity with respect to the films we wanted to make. To do this, he had each of us make a list of movies that moved us, the type of movies that we could watch over and over again. In compiling the list, he showed us how these films shared many of the characteristics of the stories we tended to tell. As the film program went on we began to see our own work, whether in its screenwriting, narrative or commercial iteration, line up with the creative identity that we were cultivating. One classmate of mine always seemed to find a way, no matter the medium he was working in, to make the work revolve around the wonder of imagination. Another seemed to be fascinated with the underdog. My own work seemed to always come back to the notion of a healthy and flourishing community. The creative identity class was really meant to help us develop a marketing tool for our creative services, but what was uncovered for me in the class was an insight into the process of human creativity, and how that relates to story. We all had certain questions that we wanted to tackle in our work, certain mysteries that we were interested in. We began to see our work as tapping in to larger concerns we had about the nature of life, the world, and even God and the spiritual life. We conducted this exploration through story.
– from the upcoming book “How to Film the Truth: The Story of Documentary Film As a Spiritual Journey” to be released in the Spring of 2018 by Wipf & Stock