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Inspiration

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The Fluidity of Structure with Gordon Greaves

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You'll often hear writers say that structure is important.

Structure is what holds a story together. Structure is sometimes what propels a story forward. Structure is loved, but also much hated. But even within the strict rigidity of structure, producer and TV writer Gordon Greaves has found his own flexibility.

For this Member Spotlight we've had the chance to speak with an incredibly adaptable producer, a creative professional with an ardent love for stories and creativity.

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How did you get into the industry?

I was a humanities graduate, acting for a living in Cape Town, when I got cast for a German TV commercial. Afer the commercial wrapped I stayed on at the production company, working freelance as a Location Manager, and then worked my way up in Production. I quickly grew tired of commercials and moved into features and then started my own company, which made me move into producing documentary and magazine TV series.

I now live in Munich, Germany but still have close ties with South Africa. I am self-employed and produce TV series and write TV scripts.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

Writing full-time. 

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Can you explain your creative process?

I have to feel strongly about the subject. Then it sort of takes on a life of its own. With my production background I like to structure everything, because within that structure I find immense freedom and fluidity. I love projects that make a real difference - things that bring out the best in people.

The power of the human spirit to overcome tragedy and setbacks never ceases to inspire me, whether it's a star athlete having to fight for his place back in the team after a long injury, or a game conservationist who risks everything to save an endangered animal from death. Tenacity, dignity, respect and grace under pressure are hallmarks of true heroes and heroines and I love to tell those stories. 

How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

Tech has had a profound effect. I often shoot and cut my own work. The changes in cameras and lenses offer so many more options these days, and with editing and delivery moving into the cloud, I can now live anywhere.

For example, I'm now cutting a series for a South African client, in Germany. We shot in SA, but all post prod is in Germany. Client viewings and approvals are all via the Internet and we upload the masters direct to the broadcaster in Johannesburg from Munich, via Aspera. 

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What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

I always try to do at least one pro bono project a year. It's always a passion project and usually helps to make a difference in people's lives. However, any work I take on, I treat with the same passion. You've got to be fully committed. It's the only way to work. The client has brought you their dream. You have to respect that . It's my job to turn it into reality. That's a big responsibility. 

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

The one I'm currently working on. 

How do you recharge away from the office?

I do open water swimming. It started when I lived in Cape Town in the Atlantic, and now I live next to Starnberg Lake near Munich, where the locals in my town still shake their heads at the mad South African who swims every day, even in winter, without a wetsuit. I love the cold, the water and the steady cadence of the strokes. It's kind of meditative, totally revitalises me, body and soul.

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What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Don't do it for the money. Do it because it consumes you, because you can't not do it. It will be bloody hard in the beginning. Your character and tenacity will be tested. But if you stay the course, the money will come, and the project will be amazing.

What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

With all the lockdowns, the way people view content is undergoing profound change. TV is dying. Online is exploding. You don't need to bang your head on some distributor's door anymore to get your work seen. For young creatives, platforms like Creativepool are game-changers for the industry. If you're good, you're going to get noticed. The digital age has created access for thousands of artists whose work might never have been noticed before.

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If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

Global free broadband WiFi access.

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