A Lesson in Creative Problem Solving from Underwater Realm

I am constantly amazed at what the British filmmaker David Reynolds and his team at Realm Pictures are doing with the creation of their underwater opus maximus “The Underwater Realm“. (Be sure to check out my Crossing the 180 interview with Dave). This has got to be one of the most ambitious, independent film series projects ever. Five short films taking place in five different time periods taking place almost entirely under water and shot on the RED. I get heart palpitations just thinking about it. On top of all that, each week they bring us hungry-for-knowledge filmmakers behind the scenes videos and lessons on everything from color grading to lighting to set design. I have mad, mad respect for these guys and what they’re doing. I cannot what to see how this all comes together.

A couple of weeks ago they did a video on under water workflow. It’s just shy of 12 minutes and I strongly encourage you to watch it (see below). It’s a great case study creative problem solving. But there were four key lessons I took away from this video.

  • Push the envelope. There were some under water filmmaking technique already in existence obviously. But for the unique shooting situations Dave and his team faced, they had to develop some creative solutions for communicating under water. When you’re faced with creative challenges, push yourself and innovate to come up with new solutions. This not only may solve your problem more effectively, it pushes the industry forward and you could become famous. Jim Cameron and Peter Jackson are both famous for doing this (and no, I’m not talking about shooting in 48 frames per second. I’m talking about the innovations they’ve done on past productions.)
  • Collaborate with the best. As I mentioned before, most of the film series takes place under water with water-breathing people. To get actors that looked like nature water breathers, they hired professional deep divers. One of the guys they brought in hold the UK record for under water breathing (just over 8 minutes). When you work with the best (or as close to the best as you can afford), you get people who can bring in their experience and skills.
  • Think outside the box. Yes, yes, I know this term is cliché. This term is so cliché, even saying this term is cliché has become cliché. But when it fits, it fits. Sometimes a solution to a big problem is solved by thinking of it totally different. Watch near the end how they solved the problem of making a 10 meter deep pool look like 30 meters of water, withOUT  computer graphics or special effects to make the water look deeper. It truly is an “out of the box” solution.
  • Re-use and re-package your solutions. This fourth lesson isn’t specific to this episode, but it relates to their project as a whole. In their Kickstarter video they talk about creating specialized LED lights that can be used underwater. I have no idea what their plans are for these lights, but I hope someone had the foresight to patent it or at least come up with a business plan to market and sell them. Whether or not they do, it’s a lesson worth mentioning. If you’re creative problem solving leads to the creation of a new product or service, it goes without saying you should re-use it on future projects. But, license that technology and make some additional money. You might as well get paid for your hard work.

Be sure to check out the inspiring video on their about page.

What creative problem solving lessons have you learned? Share in the comments.

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