‘The best kinds of failures,’ note Tom and David Kelley in Creative Confidence, ‘are quick, cheap and early, leaving you plenty of time to … iterate your ideas.’
Software engineer and project management guru Steve McConnell echoes this sentiment, refering to ‘thrashing’ early, that is, doing the difficult creative decision-making upfront: ‘you explore all of the ideas for a project at the beginning, when it’s most cost-effective’, he says.
Thrashing is arguing, debating, questioning, failing, disassembling, ditching and reconceiving. In essence, thrash and fail early, and your project is likely to emerge the better for it.
Otherwise you end up in Rogue One territory.
Screenwriter Tony Gilroy was paid a reported $5,000,000 to fix the Star Wars movie months before it was due to be released. It was allegedly confused, difficult to follow and varied wildly in tempo and tone.
Speaking about the experience to the Hollywood Reporter, Gilroy said of the project: ‘they were in terrible trouble’. Gilroy needed to do a complete overhaul – to find the heart of the story in order to fix it. ‘If you look at Rogue, all the difficulty … all the confusion … in the end when you get in there, it’s actually very, very simple to solve,’ he says. ‘Because you sort of go, “This is a movie where … everyone is going to die.” So it’s a movie about sacrifice.’
I love Rogue One. Still, $5 million dollars – that’s the high cost of thrashing at the end, not the beginning.