I was recently travelling in Europe. While I was away we had three shows in the edit suites. We’ve been in production on our current series Battle Castle for almost a year now, and it should begin broadcasting in February.
It was a tough trip. To date there is no known way to be in two places at the same time and a nine hour time difference means we can’t even pretend.
The redemption came from a book I read on the trip home. Called Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, Jonathan Fields nails it. According to him, the only way to ensure certainty from any process is to reproduce what’s been done before. It might not be art, but goes a long way to explain the explosion of copycat programs and films that follow a successful franchise.
On the flip side, the more innovative or unprecedented your approach, the greater the uncertainty. When doing something that no one has done before, we can’t say how it is going to turn out. Nor, unfortunately, can the broadcasters, and that makes them feel uncertain too. So we have a bunch of people sitting around a metaphorical table, feeling really uncomfortable. Everyone wants to fit this show, this program, into an existing box, “It’s just like X” and darned if the thing doesn’t fit! The fact that it doesn’t fit means its success can’t be predicted. So instead, as human beings and according to Fields, we default to what we can predict: its complete and utter failure.
Not exactly a stellar formula for creating successfully.
So, where do we go from here? For me having an explanation for the two cold sores, bad mood and terrible feeling in my chest helped, and slowly the anxiety started to abate. I still don’t know if the series will be a blockbuster hit but it is probably the most original thing we’ve ever done. I can tell. It’s all that uncertainty.
Check out Jonathan Fields for Uncertainty www.theuncertaintybook.com