What Got Me Out Of A Creative Funk by Jeff Leisawitz
Film Courage: At what moment did you say “I’m really going to do this!” Because we all love to think of these awesome ideas and then they last what, maybe a day, a week, whatever? That is essentially what the book (Not F*ing Around: The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground) is about, actually doing something, not just talking about it.
Jeff Leisawitz: [Laughs] Right…One of my favorite quotes is “Between concept and execution, there is a land of shadow!”
Film Courage: [Laughs] That’s good!
Jeff Leisawitz: There is another one I love which is “When all is said and done, there is generally a lot more said than done.”
Film Courage: Very true…and maybe…different in the Seattle area than it is in Los Angeles but…LA can be known for this.
Jeff Leisawitz: So when did I really gear into this? I think it was sort of in that moment or time period when I realized that this was really coming from a deep place within me. That both the creative side and the empowerment and inspirational side. These things came together in the book. And the book is one thing and we’re getting that out and whatever (people are digging it) but I’m also doing lots of workshops. And this for me is actually more powerful because, you know, I already wrote the book. Hopefully people will read it and that’s great. But interacting with groups of people, whether online or in live situations really gives me a chance to connect and obviously there is a bit more to it than reading a book, like there are humans involved.
Film Courage: The book (Not F*ing Around: The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground) has a lot of humor in it and I enjoyed the drawings as well. You have one illustration that is fairly close to the beginning of the book where there is a guy sitting on his couch watching television, kind of slumped down and depressed with maybe a beer on the table next to him. I find it interesting because this is the acceptable form of recreation and we’ve all probably fallen prey to it (it’s easy to go there). Why do you think so many people reach for…not just a beer or whatever (we don’t have to talk about addiction or anything) but that safe place on the couch? Why is this so commonplace?
Jeff Leisawitz: Because it’s easy. [Laughs] Right? I mean it’s easy to lay there, drink a beer and click around or eat your ice cream or whatever you’re into. It takes energy to do anything. Whether you are going to write your book or make your film or write a song or any of those creative things take energy. But here’s the difference, at the end of the day when you’re done watching your TV show…okay…fine. Maybe it was good, maybe it s*cked? That’s the end of it. When you create something, that energy comes back to you. It doesn’t come back to you with the TV show, generally.
Film Courage: That’s a good point.
Jeff Leisawitz: So the more energy you put in, the more energy you have, if it’s something that you genuinely, absolutely love.
Film Courage: Now you talk about this in the book and forgive me if I’m getting too personal with it…but you said during the time when you were going to attend high school or leaving high school to attend college, that you had a lot of people around you that you were close to pass away?
Jeff Leisawitz: Yes.
Film Courage: Was this part of that NFA mindset that you adopted because you witnessed that people probably had best intentions and plans.
Jeff Leisawitz: It was definitely a very tough time for me coming out of high school and you know “the world is in front of us” kind of thing and suddenly seeing “Wow. This thing can end and has for several of my friends.” It was a huge shock and a deep introspection to just know that time is always ticking. We don’t know if we’re going to get another 50 years or 10 minutes, but there is always a limit to this life, as far as we know. So what are you going to do with it? And for me (you’re right) after I got out of that funk it was like “Okay, let’s do something meaningful with life. It’s a gift.”
Film Courage: Do you remember what got you out of that funk?
Jeff Leisawitz: It might have been meeting the greatest guitar player I’ve ever played with, a guy called Mike Schmidt in college. I met this guy…lot of people play guitar and I played music with people back then. But Mike was an extraordinary musician, like ultra level. And for some reason he wanted to play with me in a band. He taught me a whole lot. Not just about music but about life through music. So the story that I remember that was really so huge for me was at that time I would learn a song and play it (do a cover song or write a song). I went to get together with Mike and I’m like “Mike, what song do you want to play?” And he’s like “I don’t want to play a song.” And I’m like “What do you want to do?” and he’s like “Just play. Just play.” And I start playing the bass and Mike starts carving music out of out of my semi-chaotic, erratic bass line and it was beautiful! And what I got out of that was how music was completely open and free, which is similar to life, right? The more structured you are, there is great stuff in that. But if you can be free and loose with your plan, magic can happen. It’s like a Grateful Dead song. You ever listen to the Dead?
Film Courage: Well, I grew up in a town that worshipped The Grateful Dead. I grew up in Palo Also, so yeah, every year there was a huge Dead concert/festival essentially. [Laughs]
Jeff Leisawitz: Right…so the Dead sort of jam every night (or used to) and some nights it was just a disaster! It was a sonic mess that you just never would think…what the hell? Then…other nights it was music that was just so heavenly and divine. Like how can humans make something so beautiful? They have to step into that chaos. They have to step into the possibility and just see how it goes. That’s kind of what I got from Mike back then.
Question: What’s your favorite quote on creating great art?
Jeff Leisawitz burns with a mission— to inspire writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs (and everyone else) to amp up their creativity, heal their hearts and shine in the world.
Jeff is an award-winning musician/ producer, a critically acclaimed author and internationally distributed filmmaker who has devoted his life to creativity.
As the guy behind Electron Love Theory, Jeff fused interviews with Seattle’s WTO demonstrators into electronic music, garnering more than a quarter million downloads worldwide. Jeff has released five studio albums and has landed thousands of music placements in film, TV and multimedia for clients like HBO, MTV, Discovery, Microsoft, NBC and many others.
As the founding writer for Seattle’s taste-making alternative rock station 107.7 The End, he chronicled the alternative grunge scene in the 90s. After training as a Life Coach and practicing NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Re-Patterning) Jeff landed a gig as an adjunct faculty member at Pacific Lutheran University— teaching college students to rock. (Seriously)
When creative businesses, schools and organizations like Brown Paper Tickets, Tacoma School of the Arts, Gage Academy of Art, Northwest Film Forum and others need to amp up the creativity, Jeff leads workshops and events to fire up the creative spirit and empower people to tap into their true potential.
Jeff is available for workshops and speaking gigs in the Seattle metro area and select cities across the country. Not F*ing Around— the No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground is Jeff’s first book.
Learn the screenwriting secrets behind successful cinematic stories in the world of film & television script writing.
Paul Castro the original writer of the Warner Bros. hit movie, AUGUST RUSH.He is a produced, award winning screenwriter and world-renowned screenwriting professor. Success leaves clues and so do masterfully crafted screenplays that sell for millions of dollars.