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3 Ways to Crush An Idea You Didn’t Come Up With

By Brian Mann on February 21, 2018

If you do creative work in a church, it doesn’t take long to realize that you’re going to be asked to produce a lot of content that was someone else’s idea – stories, bumpers, promos, highlight reels. What started off as your boss’s vision or your colleague’s brainstorm is suddenly your job now. And it needs to look awesome. 

Taking ownership of an idea that’s not yours isn’t easy. But it’s essential that you find your footing so you can begin making headway on your project. Here are 3 ways to help you gain creative influence as you move forward.

1. Pitch the Idea

In the film industry, the pitch is an essential part of any pre-production process. Before a project ever gets funded, before anyone gets hired or cast, the film gets pitched. This process helps the creators explain what they’re setting out to do. Put another way, it forces them to be intentional. In churches, we usually skip past this step and jump right into getting things done. And it makes sense, the clock is ticking. But I’ve found that being able to articulate what my project is about and what I hope people get out of it forces me to be intentional. It sharpens my focus. I pitch my projects constantly – to people around the office, friends, other creatives I trust. Whether the original idea was mine or not, pitching helps me shape the direction of what I’m setting out to create.

2. Launch the Idea

When production starts, clarity is absolutely key. Whenever I start filming without a a clear plan, I’m already falling behind. A clear plan means that I map out my project visually (I prefer a whiteboard.) Everything’s in one place – timeline, budget, gear list, locations, interview questions and production notes. I plan my work and then work my plan. Of course, plans always change and you have to flex. But luck favors the prepared, especially in production. The key is to maintain clarity as you capture your story on film.

3. Land the Idea

If pre-production is all about intentionality and production is all about clarity, post-production is all about focus. This is where you’ll bring the idea home. As you remove distractions (in your edit) and add elements (like music, sound design, color) you’ll highlight what your audience should pay attention to, much like focusing a lens. Remember the pitch, what you intentionally set out to do. Make sure everything in your edit has a reason for being there. And if doesn’t, lose it. For me, it always helps to have another trusted set of eyes on my projects so I can see how close I am to the finish line.

I hope these tips help get you moving forward. As you take more ownership of the project you’re working on, you’ll become more of a stakeholder in its success.


Brian Mann is a filmmaker, composer, and the Creative Director at Ecclesia Church in Houston, TX. He’s the author of Tell More Stories: A Practical Guide for Storytellers in the Church.



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