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Creativity Under Pressure

OPB | Aug. 18, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:57 p.m.

Many journalists tend to be deadline-oriented. Sometimes we write feature stories, or make radio shows, in as little as an hour. Ok, our deadlines aren’t usually that ridiculous, but they are always looming, always part of the landscape. How does that intense pressure affect our creativity?

It’s a question many filmmakers in Oregon faced last weekend. A total of 56 teams participated in the horrendous (and yet also glorious) pressure-cooking event known as the 48 Hour Film Project. Cinema Syndicate, which won best film in the international competition in 2006, was one of the teams to have a mere 48 hours to make a four to seven minute film. Those films will begin screening on Wednesday at the Hollywood Theatre and winners will be announced at the end of the month.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre is another example of creativity under fire. They just swept through Baker City, where producers put on a musical with just five days of rehearsal. This week, they’re in Sherwood doing the same thing. Producer David Cross says it’s an adrenaline rush he wouldn’t trade for anything. And most of the kids MCT visits don’t have access to other theater programs, so it’s a thrill for them as well.

But of course, people can also crack under pressure. And there’s pressure and then there’s pressure. If you’re a surgeon and you need to get creative when things don’t go as planned, it could literally be life or death.

Does your job or hobby demand that you’re creative under pressure? How does stress help or hinder your creative process? Why do you think that is? What is it about a deadline that fires you up or immobilizes you?

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