David OReilly on Why He Doesn’t Repeat Himself

Not to turn this place into a quote blog, but I think David OReilly makes a great case for moving in new creative directions:

when you’re making an animated short, it’s pretty much your duty to try out new territory. When something’s gonna take over a year of your life, fill you with paralyzing self-doubt, destroy whatever social life you have and empty your bank account, what’s the point on re-doing what you’ve done before?

It is interesting to compare his reasons against any of the larger, corporate players. They do the same thing over again because they’ve found a winning formula and will drive it into the ground in the search for revenue.

David on the other hand, is more concerned about the psychological reasons, and he’s right too. Why put yourself through a whole bunch of pressure and stress just to do the same thing you did before? It doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense, and it can apply to other things besides films too. How about art, music, your job, the list goes on and on.

As great as Please Say Something is, I’m glad that David has gone in a new direction, it’s proof that he is much more than a one-trick pony (although we sort of knew that anyway) and it gives us plenty of opportunities to guess about his next short, which he has yet to announce.

If you’re curious, you can watch The External World here or buy a HD version to support David.

4 thoughts on “David OReilly on Why He Doesn’t Repeat Himself

  1. I’m liking what Mr. O’Reilly has to say more and more. A lot of people can corner themselves into a rut in order to put together what they think is right. Artists have to improve, and just because one formula worked before doesn’t mean it will work again. Its the same thing with music artists with commercial backing: a prior formula may have done wonders once, but that doesn’t mean the same trick can be repeated. I should make a list of artists who have gone through this.

  2. I think this is especially of shorts, whether they’re being made by a big studio or an individual. Shorts are an ideal format for experimentation, since they don’t require as much time or money as a feature film. They’re great for testing out new techniques and ideas.

    Big studios tend to be under more pressure to produce animation that will make money, especially when it comes to feature films. And more often than not, people who don’t know much about filmmaking assume that what’s going to make money is a movie that resembles one that made money before. This kind of thinking doesn’t lead to unique and creative prokects, but that best studios figure out how to minimize repetitivness in their work.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys 🙂

    Emmett – One of the most famous musicians of the modern era took that maxim to heart. He moved in a different direction with each new album. You may have heard of him, he’s David Bowie, a successful musician for nigh on forty years. A famous band saw what he was doing and realised they needed to do the same. They’ve been successful for 30 years, that band is U2. Change is good because it stopped them from turning into a fad.

    Sara – Your statement reminds me of one of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: The Law of Leadership, which states that “it is better to be first than to be better”. It’s true with any number of companies/industries. Applied to animation, it meant that Pixar released the first CGI film in 1995. Everyone else has been playing catchup ever since.

    I think the main problem with the big studios is that they are looking for more reliable sources of income as their traditional sources migrate online. A bird in the hand is always worth two in the bush.

    Richard – You’re right, most of us aren’t as good as David, however there are plenty of people out there who will use an excuse like that as a crutch for not embracing new ideas. Balancing risk is a delicate skill that few people have, and as a businessman, you clearly understand what can happen should a project you undertake fail.

    Having said that, risk is manageable and if managed correctly, it can still allow for plenty of creative explorations.

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