Working with visions. A practical use case of how to unlock creativity.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.

Helen Keller
Visions Triggers

My visions’ mechanics and how I work with visions, flows, and surroundings to tap into my creativity.

For me, visions are feelings, emotions, and sensations projected on the screen of life, the parts of human nature we cannot see or sense fast enough. They have faces and expressions, at times they speak, and at some point, something always happens or happened before that triggers new sets of actions and circumstances.

At first, there is nothing and then, there is something. A fertile place to feel what you don’t know yet about yourself and the surroundings lies in between. I would say that between nothing and something it’s us, it’s where we are and where we connect the dots to create the shape and the direction of our lives.

This is how things happened the last autumn when I decided to make an educational short film for a governmental competition on the occasion of International Anticorruption Day. A very important theme, socially speaking, but not in the first line of my expression of needs and wants. Not because I don’t care or I’m not affected every day by corruption, Romania is her “mother”, but because I played my part in this story when my situation called for action. Not as an NGO activist, as this also is not an interest of mine, but as an entrepreneur during the era when I acted as one.

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.

Jonathan Swift

My vision quest started three days before the deadline.

At first, a call to action popped up in my Facebook feed. At the time, I was in the middle of editing my debut movie and I was over exhausted. But something about that call to action or theme triggered me and I found myself unable to stop thinking about it in the background of my mind.

In the beginning, the idea to compete by making a new short was a thought, but then it became a challenge, as I had zero money and only three days to get it done, then it turned into a need. 

What is this need about? I wondered. And what could I possibly have to say or show about anti-corruption? With an educational touch. If I were to make this short film, everything must happen in one location near my studio, with one camera we can get for free, one set of lenses, one actor, and a maximum 2-page script. So I took a walk around the neighborhood, hoping that a good enough idea will find me on the way.

Me, catching ideas while scouting film locations

Where there is no vision, there is no hope.

– George Washington Carver

I turned on the “questions machine” in my mind, as I was trying to find the best possible angle to approach it within my circumstances.

Who is the main character? What’s its educational and life background? Is it an ordinary person or does it hold a leadership position? Where? How old is it? What are its core problem and need? What is the audience I want to target? Why? Why me – why couldn’t or can’t someone else tell this story? What’s unique about me in alignment with this topic? How to apply it in the storytelling? Why do I want to tell a story on this theme? What is the story about? Can I tell it in less than 5 minutes (the limit imposed)? Can I make it on zero budget? If yes, what should its production value worth being?

I was about to give up, as my SMART goals analysis approach made me feel this attempt was too edgy, but on my way back home I decided to follow my flow and go down the old stairs that connected the Romanian Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Romania) to my house. While looking and walking down the stairs, the real game of questions and answers began.

Hidden Stairs

Who goes down these stairs? Me. A woman? It better be, as the best actress for this role is right in my face (Marcela Motoc, the protagonist of my debut movie I was working on). So, our character is a woman in her 40s. Yes, ma’am.

The vision of a woman judge going down those stairs projected itself on the imaginary screen that suddenly interfered with my reality. We were walking side by side. Why down and not up? Oh, baby, trust me, she is going down.

My vision-led judge

Where is she coming from? I looked around and I remembered that the Palace of Justice building is near. She comes from the court of law because… She is a lawyer! I don’t think so. Prosecutor? Not good enough. Marcela has something royal in her germs. Judge! Yes, because she is a judge. She decides who goes up and who goes down and for how long. She stays between the entrance and the exit of the Matrix. She’s the gatekeeper, she plays a pivotal role at the intersection of law, morals, and ethics.

The Palace of Justice, Bucharest
Patriarchate of Romania, Bucharest

What is her problem? Pff… Why don’t you ask the vision? Good idea. Tell me, Vision, what’s up? Silence. Try another question, why is she looking down the stairs? Because I am? Maybe something bothers her. What? Ask her. Vision, what are you thinking about? A corruption case? This gives me nothing. What aspect of the corruption case? Keep asking. Keep walking. Keep looking around.

I looked up and I saw a fish scratched on a wall. A fish? It’s not about the fish, it’s the head of the fish. It’s where the home of corruption is. At the top. She is this hydra’s head. She is corrupted. Or? Corruptible? Or? She made a bad or poor choice, she gave a weak sentence in the case she judged. So, it’s too late. Not if her decision hasn’t been published, yet. There’s a tight space between endings and beginnings where one can turn things around beyond what appears to be the finish line.

Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.

– Sam Walton

Does she change her mind? Maybe this vision is not about changing her mind. But? Maybe it’s about not doing enough, not exercising all her power and obligations. Just like it happened to me when that judge was happy enough to bury my case in papers. I got the truth, my opponent got the justice. A thing that delayed my life for years. How fair is that? How ethical? How corrupted?

But your vision’s decision is legal, isn’t it? It is, but is it also just? This is the question. This is the angle. She must answer the question: How deep should a judge dig for the truth and push for justice? Because this is what we all expect from her, regardless of who we are or of how low or up we are on the hierarchy.

Judges directly influence destinies, lives, and the faith of countries and societies. We count on them to defend the truth and push hard for justice, especially when we are small and attacked by greater opponents able to produce more papers tagged as evidence than we can. Most of us are on the other side of the gates. Judges shouldn’t afford the luxury of being confused, the lack of discernment and vigilance. They should not be comfortable and they should not act like ordinary people. They should be models. This world needs models or people who try hard enough to become models. I need models.

Ink Sketch. I use photo filters to get more artwork versions as they reveal more facets of the character.

So, your vision finds itself at the crossroads of her consciousness. Yes. And this is a story about her struggling to identify why the confusion that she feels, but whose roots she cannot put her finger on, bothers her so much. Yes. At some point, she disconnected. Yes. Inertia swallowed her as it does with all of us. Yes. The judge is us. And we are the judge.

It could work. Yes. It’s doable. Yes. A bit risky, artistically speaking. Yes, but all we need for the purpose of this quest is a good enough balance between details.

Will this vision-led judge wake up? I don’t know. Let’s find out!

… and for the sake of having a good laugh, here is how things happened behind the scenes (both films have English subtitles):

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