To Kill or To Fuck? Boosting creativity by raising the stakes in day-to-day encounters

Carbon Fiber - Pyragraph

A still from the production of Carbon Fiber, the short documentary written and directed by Katie N. Young.

Katie N. Young is a New York-based filmmaker and the writer/director of Carbon Fiber, a documentary short film that is currently being crowdfunded on Seed&Spark.

I recently took an acting class to develop my confidence and presentation skills. My intention was not to be discovered and in the next six to 12 months become a celebrity of the Jennifer Lawrence variety. No. That never crossed my mind.

I’m a serious filmmaker, and filmmakers must have the ability to pitch ideas to pretentious-looking people and sell a concept that they have daydreamed about for years, but still find hard to articulate. Contrary to popular belief, meek and mild female Millennials do exist. They live among us. I am one of them and these skills don’t come naturally to me. So I set out to strengthen them.

Every moment and encounter can be meaningful and memorable.

I learned a lot, including how incredibly difficult acting is. I have a newfound respect for the craft and people who commit their lives to it. Acting is hard. Among the inspiring anecdotes and invaluable advice, one discovery really affected me. In hopes of identifying a beginning, middle and end to every performance, my acting teacher said, “[In every scene] you either play to kill or to fuck…just like in real life.”

Just like in real life? How could I “play” either scenario in a make-believe scene, let alone real life? After jotting down the note, I began to daydream, as we filmmakers do. I would try it: to play to kill or to fuck in my everyday life. I don’t even like to say these words. So in my mind I softened them a bit. “To kill” meant to take down and “to fuck” meant to win over. Marrying wasn’t an option. To marry is too passive. To get along with and love unconditionally demands no profound short-term objective—no beginning, middle or end. So I set out to kill or to fuck.

Latte - Pyragraph

Every morning my husband makes a latte and brings it to me in bed. (You may want to kill me after reading this.) Some mornings I absolutely want to fuck him for it, but other mornings, when he wakes at 5:30am and brings it to me, I want to kill him. When I take the dog for a morning walk and little kids walk so slowly through the revolving doors, I want to kill them.

Unfortunately, I cannot proceed to outline to you an actual day in my life, for fear of never securing future work or borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor again. However, I can elaborate on the internal process.

I am, by nature, a person who does not enjoy high-stakes situations or uncomfortable confrontation. I gravitate towards calming scenarios and passive decision-making. I think this has held me back. It has held me back from disappointment, regret and tears; but it’s also held me back from promotions, love and the unknown.

Everyone experiences occasional mundane days. We feel as if we’re stumbling through life like a zombie. For fear of taking these days for granted, I decided to play “to kill or to fuck.” Every moment and encounter can be meaningful and memorable. Having an objective can raise the stakes. Be aware, survey your surroundings; consider your objective and make a decision. It’s intense and intimate. The choice you make is a secret that only you are privy to. It can also change in you mid-encounter. Don’t literally perform the act you choose. The exercise is meant to stir something inside of you, and as a result, you become more aware, present and emotional. You listen to the person you’re interacting with. You smile more.

Katie N. Young

Photo by Robert C. Young.

Can raising the stakes lead to increased creativity? I think so.

So next time you open the door to a FreshDirect delivery person and make eye contact, decide if you want to kill or to fuck him or her. Again, don’t literally do it. Let the emotional adrenaline stir in you. Become aware and present. Act alive.

I hope all of us find ourselves wanting to fuck more.

Photos by Katie N. Young, unless otherwise noted.

About Seed&Spark

Seed&Spark is a crowdfunding platform for filmmakers that is creating a lush ecosystem for truly independent cinema. Seed&Spark’s fair trade model provides a unique experience for filmmakers and audiences alike in that it focuses on the symbiotic relationship between both parties. Through a media partnership with Pyragraph, filmmakers currently crowdfunding their films through Seed&Spark are sharing their experiences and lessons learned. Join them in building a fair trade filmmaking movement.

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