Last year, Canon started a “Long Live Imagination” campaign where, under the guidance of the filmmaker and former child star Ron Howard (“Splash,” “Willow,” “A Beautiful Mind”), armchair and professional photographers “of all levels,” were invited to submit photographs based on eight elements of storytelling.
From 100,000 photos, eight were selected and served as the basis of a short film, directed by Mr. Howard’s daughter, the actress Bryce Dallas Howard (“The Help”). Shot using Canon cameras, it was called “when you find me.” No, the title wasn’t capitalized, and it made the rounds of various film festivals.
This year, Canon is expanding the program, now called “Project Imaginat10n.” Ten films will be produced via a similar process. Five of them will be directed by already selected notables: actress Eva Longoria, actor Jamie Foxx, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, musician James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter. The shorts (around 10 minutes each) will be shown at a special Canon “Project Imaginat10n” film festival in 2013, with the exact location and date still being coordinated.
Last year, Mr. Howard helped choose the photos that served as the basis for his daughter’s film, and consulted on her effort. This year, the individual filmmakers will choose their own photos.
“I’m in a broader mentor role,” he said, which includes reading drafts of scripts. “I’m mostly there to answer questions. These are five dynamos, but if they hit any snags along the way, I’ll be there with advice on how to get out of the logjam.”
“I’m encouraging people to really believe that this is an organic experiment,” Mr. Howard added. He has suggested they try to avoid any preconceived notions of what their film might be or the story they’ll tell. “I’m advising people to trust their creative choices” once they see the photographs, “and try to keep outside of the traditional box.”
“There are no expectations,” he went on. “It doesn’t need to be commercial or really funny because we’re going to use it on a comedy sketch show. Even though they’re servicing their brand, it feels like a really pure and creative exercise.”
Mr. Murphy, who is from Princeton Junction, N.J., and disbanded LCD Soundsystem in the past year or so, said he tends to stay away from “corporate stuff.”
“But I like taking pictures. I take pictures of everything, even of the wine I like. I like reminding people that photographs don’t need to just be taken on phones, and my first camera was a Canon in the early 1980s,” he explained, “so I don’t feel weird about participating in this.”
Mr. Murphy added that when he makes music, he tends to use a mood board of photographs, so the concept of the project isn’t that foreign to him.
“I’m not nervous,” he said. “I’ll get nervous later. Ten to 12 minutes isn’t that long for a movie anyway. I write songs longer than that. I’m a slow burn kind of guy.”
Before Mr. Stone entered the digital sphere, “I started out as an artist,” he said. He dropped out of college to apprentice with a book jacket designer. “It taught me that creativity is a renewable resource,” Mr. Stone said. “It’s something you can keep doing over and over again.”
As inspiration and “tonal guidance,” Mr. Stone, a self-proclaimed movie lover, said that he was looking to Vittorio De Sica’s “The Bicycle Thief” and Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire.”
“You can watch those movies on mute and still get what’s going on,” he said. “Story isn’t an afterthought, but they lead with photography and story comes after.”
He added that he would be lying if he claimed he didn’t care how people responded to his short, whatever it may turn out to be: “It could be that a lot of people see it and say, ‘Biz, go back to making the tweets.’ I know failure is a part of life and being an entrepreneur and an artist, but of course, I want people to think it’s cool.”
Seconded Mr. Murphy, who described himself as “competitive,” but in a “healthy and fun” way, “I hope my short movie doesn’t stink. Yes, my goal is to not stink, which I think is a worthy goal.”Source: The Wall Street Journal