Many moons ago, before the Internet and social media, when our culture was a primordial miasma of goo, I spent a Saturday on the USC campus taking a test. Not just any test, and not one having anything to do with college. There were hundreds of people from all over the country, some from foreign countries for all I knew and all of us vying for a handful of spots in Hollywood’s entrance program for second assistant directors.
Being young and dumb I thought the test would have many questions related to filmmaking. I was wrong, for the most part at least. Most of the test was standard IQ garbage; math, English, and those stupid questions regarding how to fold something that only engineering students could figure out.
But there was something that was challenging. It had to do with everyday objects and finding another use for them. It challenged your creativity. Name five uses for a rubber band for instance other than its intended use. I will give you one. Dental floss.
This is a good exercise for writers. Not only does it spur one’s imagination, but is useful for character development. Imagine a character in a story who periodically takes out a rubber band and uses it to floss. Why? Maybe he is eccentric. Maybe he doesn’t like that minty flavor. Maybe he has a rubber fetish. The point is that it becomes a character signature. I imagine this character with the rubber band floss to be a villain. Ian Fleming’s Blofeld had his cat, my villain has his rubber band.
Of course the character does not have to be a villain. The character could be psychologically compulsive, neurotic, or the rubber band could be used as a security blanket for a damaged character.
So for all of you writers or artists, or those who just want to test themselves. look at everyday objects and find a different use for them. A tire, a mug, a pencil, your underwear. It does not matter what it is. Whatever you see, come up with some creative use.
As for my test results, I did not make the final cut. Not even close. I did so poorly they told me to never come back. In fact I was barred from Hollywood and greater Los Angeles. Had I been thinking smartly I would have found creative uses for this one page notice I received in the mail. Pin it to the wall to use as inspiration and motivation, the ‘I will show you’ signature. Or use it to create a paper boat and then take a bath and have my rubber ducky attack the boat and destroy it like Godzilla destroys a cruise ship.
Now you know why I failed. But don’t let my failure stop you from this exercise. It does work. The dental floss proves it.
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38