Getting The Best Out Of People: Everything I Know About Creative Collaboration I Learned From Bob Zemeckis…

Among the things I’ve been lucky enough to do over the course of my career is write and produce a TV show called ‘Tales From The Crypt’.  It was a blast to do — incredibly challenging work aside — in large part because I got to work with some of the most talented people in the whole business.  Among those people is a man I think of as my mentor:  Robert Zemeckis.

If you don’t know who Bob is, IMDb him.  You’ll recognize a few of his credits, I bet.

I got to write two of Bob’s ‘Tales’ episodes and I can only describe the process of working creatively with Bob as transcendent.  It is what the collaborative process is SUPPOSED to be.  And when you do it THIS way — you DO get the very best out of people because everyone invests all the way with the project.  It becomes a genuine ‘US’ vs the World (the ‘World’ being whatever stands in the way of getting the project done as close to perfect as everyone can make it).

Part of what makes it work is how it opens the creative process to everyone involved.  A story (from a production standpoint) is just a series of problems that need to be solved (how to shoot it, how to shoot it within the time and money, how to shoot it so it’ll cut together with the rest of the story).  You could put forward a suggestion that didn’t quite work — but you couldn’t put forward a bad suggestion.  Even a suggestion that didn’t quite work could still have the spark in it that solved the larger problem everyone was trying to solve.  Consequently, the creative environment opened up and no one felt that their creative integrity could be undermined or called out.  It felt safe.

And let me tell ya — some of those challenges were tough.  And the safer you feel creatively, the more creative you are — and the quicker and better the problems get solved.

But people concerned only with CYA — covering their own fucking asses — can NEVER create a safe creative environment where REAL Greatness can be birthed, get nurtured and take flight.  The same applies to any collaborative environment — corporations, government, a family even.

Why can’t Donald Trump ever really hire the best people?  Simple.  He has no idea how to.


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