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6527212 March 11, 2010

Movie Magic: Caesar Augustus

"Having the end result in mind has brought my best results."

I'm always amazed at the blend of creativity and project management needed to direct and produce films. A keen ability to visualize the big picture and the details while also bringing people, plans, and ideas together to meet deadlines and follow a budget can seem overwhelming to folks--both on the left and the right--of the brain, that is. No wonder they call it Movie Magic. My guest today, Director/Producer Caesar Augustus provides a great example of this amazing mental fusion, which he intends to take all the way to the top.

As I was growing up, I got the whole right brain, left brain scenario stuck in my head. As a highly creative person and an interior designer, I knew my mother primarily used her right brain, and as a high school administrator, my dad exercised his left. I thought it was an either/or situation.

Little did I know.

Here's a refresher:

Right Brain
  • Responds to demonstrated instructions
  • Problem solves with hunches, looking for patterns and configurations
  • Looks at similarities
  • Is fluid and spontaneous
  • Prefers elusive, uncertain information
  • Prefers drawing and manipulating objects
  • Prefers open ended questions
  • Free with feelings
  • Prefers collegial authority structures
Left Brain
  • Responds to verbal instructions
  • Problem solves by logically and sequentially looking at the parts of things
  • Looks at differences
  • Is planned and structured
  • Prefers established, certain information
  • Prefers talking and writing
  • Prefers multiple choice tests
  • Controls feelings
  • Prefers ranked authority structures
Unfortunately, for many years I essentially ignored my left brain (or it ignored me). Then to emotionally survive, I swung far to the left. With the help of my left brain, I built a life for myself and managed a relationship after multiple failures. What eventually happened is a whole other story, but needless to say, because my right is truly dominate, the two ultimately collided in an explosion that took quite a bit of time and effort to sort out.

With that said, I've learned that accomplishing creative projects often heavily depends on left-brain capabilities. For example, I doubt I could have completed a novel back when I was emerged in my right brain, running around like a maniac. I believe it took my left to say, "Hey, sit your a-- down now! Here's how you're going to make this idea a reality."

In my recent interviews focusing on creativity, I've asked why so many people start creative projects yet never finish. In many cases, I believe it has a lot to do with an inability to tap into the more project management-related skill sets, and apply them to what the creative side visualizes. I've certainly learned how important it is to plan my progress with the end result in mind.

Ironically, this week I've set out to paint a picture with no plan in mind. It's an experiment that has me feeling a bit uncomfortable. It's made me realize how much security I get from the planning process. I find that first creating a road map that takes me from point A to point B is a powerful process/tool. The issue is that sometimes a map can bring insidious inflexibility. It can cause the left brain to overpower the right, perhaps squealing amazing creative spark or emotional content. This is what I'm trying to better understand in terms of my own creative process and ability.

Free mapping it isn't so tough standing in front of a blank canvas, or perhaps sitting in front of a computer. Directing and producing a film is yet another story. There are bigger elements to be orchestrated, and planning seems to be essential. Orchestrating words, color, and lines is one thing, but creating movie magic is another.

I often wonder if most highly creative people are born knowing what they want to do. Have you always wanted to be involved in film making, or was it a specific creative interest that evolved over time?

I believe everyone is creative to a certain degree. Like most great things, my creativity developed and evolved over time. Nothing is better then hands on experience and working with others to expand on anything you do.

Growing up, I always had the family camera at hand. Like many young people, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do as a career. As a Junior, I transferred to a new high school. Starting a new school, I only knew a handful of people. The guidance councilor suggested a good way to get involved at the school was to join WCHS-TV, a student operated television station servicing Coatesville Area Senior High School. The program ran every other day during advisory period and produced a show featuring school news, sports, features, and birthday segments coordinated by two co-hosts. We learned the basic aspects of television production, including reporting, writing, filming, editing and producing. Here is where I consider my creative career as a filmmaker found me.

I didn’t want to go to a new high school but for some reason life brought me there.

Do you have other creative interests, and if so, what are they?

I am also a graphic designer and an editor. I design all my material and edit all my projects. Here's our latest project that is currently on MTV:

There is a stereotype that creative people are "different," which can be a positive or a negative at times. What are your thoughts on this?

I have come across into many different and unique individuals in my industry. Different is absolutely needed in our field. It allows us all to create in a unique way.

The best part of what I do is work with all sort of different creative people. All units coming together to form one masterpiece is really one of my joys of being a Director/Producer.

Do you believe being creative has caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both?

I think both.

Being creative and focused, my goals have absolutely helped me deal with life’s aberrations. Since my career has a lot to do with being creative, it has helped me stay on course, always building, learning with each and every project and experience.

Building a good brand has always been my main focus. It has allowed me to experience both good and bad parts of the business but never has it been a set back.

On another side, I think you need to loose yourself within-in order to find your creativity. Sometimes that is where the best material is found. Wherever life brings you … good or bad ... it's all for a reason. We are the sum of all are experiences.

Have you had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

I have surrounded myself with people who believe in me, my work, and the vision that drives me creatively. If there is ever a question, I just look at how far we have come in a short amount of time, knowing that anything can be accomplished with the right determination, attitude and persistence.

I often wonder, "Am I truly creative or do I just think I am?" Have you ever wondered about this? In a world filled with creative people and people who think they're creative, how have you been able to distinguish yourself and your talent, despite any doubts along the way?

I think everyone is creative, whether you're baking a cake or creating a feature film. You're starting from scratch and adding your own touch.

I personally create from within. I find myself almost in a deep meditative state when I write, edit, or do anything creative. I feel the help of my guides come in when I really get into what I am doing.

Unfortunately, many creative people never achieve the success they dream about. How did (or do) you cope with disappointments? What motivated you to keep going, to not give up?

At an early age I understood that there will be lots of ups and downs in anything you do. It's how you work through them that determines the outcome. You are a success the minute you attempt to achieve your goal. If you fall … you get up and continue where you left off.

It's all a building process.

I often wonder about the similarities and differences creative people have in terms of thought processes. How would you describe your creative process? How does your mind work?

I always have the Beginning, Middle and End laid out before I begin most of my projects. Having the end result in mind has brought my best results.

My development process varies from project to project. It all depends on the length of the script, the actors, the set, and the crew your working with, as well as the budget. All this drawn together allows me to figure out which way I will be developing and orchestrating the production.

What are the top three characteristics of a highly creative person, in your opinion?

1. Attitude
2. Passion
3. Discipline

It can vary depending of on what creative field you're in. It's all about what you visually see before you can create anything.

Many creative people have tons of ideas but never follow through. I'm not sure if it's because they lack drive, organization, or focus. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?

Some people don’t see themselves as what they wish to become. Since that first high school production, I've always seen myself doing what I do. Directing a BIG motion picture is my dream, and my end result. However, even when I get there, I'll adjust and have a whole new set of goals and dreams lined up.

Most people fail to see that discipline in mastering your craft, your drive, and putting this all together into working action is what's needed to truly achieve any goal. The bigger the dream and expectations, the more individual effort is needed to pull through.

You determine your outcome. See yourself there ... and I guarantee you WILL get there.

Learn more about Augustus Films on their site, Facebook, and MySpace.

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