How Do I Create Ideas for Feature Films?

How do I create ideas for feature films? …

 Shane Hurlbut
Shane Hurlbut

 Shane Hurlbut

Like a 5 year-old!

Filmmakers ask me the same question over and over. How do I create? It is a great question and one that I enjoy answering. I recently gave six keynote presentations at CES in Las Vegas. When I got off the stage after my first performance, a group of three filmmakers came up to me and started asking questions. They thanked me for all the knowledge that I share and how much it has inspired them. I thanked them for their kind words. There was a group of people behind them who had many questions as well. Just before they were about to leave, they asked what I was doing for dinner. I said that I was having dinner with them. They were floored. I make it a point at the trade shows to leave one night for filmmakers. This happened to be their lucky day because they were the first to ask. Check out the young filmmakers’ blog posts about it.
Josh GilsonJonathan Prieto


“The Dinner Conversation”

We sat down at dinner and they asked me to explain how I create. I told them that I enter every film, commercial, music video, etc. as if I were a five year old, like I never have done any of this before. It is all new, exciting, a blank canvas, where all the brushes and colors to paint are fresh, unique and captivating. I told them I had the viewpoint of a five year old with the experience of 50 year old. They all laughed. Did I just say 50? Holy COW! Yes, on February 18th, 2014, I turn 50 years old. Many ask how could someone with all this experience at the tip of the spear feel so young? It all comes down to the five year old kid rule.

A five year old wants to try new things, not wanting to do what he has already conquered. This same process works because I have the same view on never doing things twice. It is also important as an artist to be selective, to not just do the first thing that comes in front of you. This is where the 50 year old rule is practiced. I have made this mistake a couple of times in my journey as a cinematographer and I will not do it again. You have to follow your heart and believe in your ability and the longevity of your career.

Shane Hurlbut, ASC on IMDB

“Turning 50 and the Parallel of Shooting with 50 Cameras”

I thought it was fitting to mention the parallel of turning 50 years old to the number of cameras that was our recipe for success on Need for Speed – 50.

Camera Package:
15 Canon C500s
2 Arri Alexa Plus
2 Arri Alexa Ms
11 Canon 1DCs
20 GoPro Hero 3s
7 Codex S Recorders
4 Gemini 4K RAW Recorders

“There is No Price Tag on Creation”

How I create is not based on whether I have a huge budget. My methodology is the same for a 200 million dollar blockbuster or a short produced out of the garage for two thousand dollars. The creative process is the same. I always work with what I have. Sometimes I have more, sometimes less, sometimes not much of anything. You have to get resourceful and look at the project from the eyes of a five year old. You cannot put a price tag on creation. Go out there and GRAB IT!

A Beginner’s Mind:
“To practice beginner’s mind means to open to the experience in each moment as if meeting it for the first time… without the intermediate layer of thought or comparison to the past; Because in truth, each moment is unique. Though you may have experienced a thousand sunsets, you have not experienced this particular sunset. The same is true of a lifetime in breaths… this particular breath and this particular taste will never happen again.”
Brantley 76

Click here to go check out the new Need for Speed page!

Enter the Where’s the GoPro in Need for Speed? Contest

  1. Alex Potter 2 years ago

    I need to practice more of this – “I always work with what I have.”

    And this – “You have to get resourceful and look at the project from the eyes of a five year old.”

    Great post Shane!

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Alex Potter, thank you for those kind words and support. A beginner’s mind, a 5 year old is the way to create. I am so glad you liked it.

  2. Brian 2 years ago

    Shane, this is one of the most inspirational and practical posts on creativity I have read in a while. I can completely attest from the small time I got to spend with you guys, a couple years back, that you really do live this way. I remember once seeing you reviewing some footage from a commercial you had just worked on. Your excitement over the experience and what you had just accomplished was like it was one of the first projects you had ever worked on. Your passion over every project and balance with extreme professionalism and technical precision was awesome to watch. I read every one of the blogs post and thank you again for the teaching and inspiration you provide. You have no idea how much some of us get from this site. You are appreciated.

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Brian, you are very welcome. These are the comments to continue to fuel my passion to share, care, and mentor. My Mom and Dad were both educators, I went the other way as an artist. My wife Lydia posed the question to me, why should we educate when you retire. How about giving and sharing everything when you are at the pinnacle of your career. I said, well that had never been done before, so let’s do it. She is visionary. Thank you for your wonderful words and all your support of this blog. We are just getting warmed up.

  3. Alex Vo 2 years ago

    Thank you Shane. You’re work is inspirational and your humble approach to what you do is even more inspiring. I sometimes get lost in the “work” part of productions and forget to play sometimes. Your childlike approach to your work is a great reminder of this. How about we talk more over dinner? =)

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Alex Vo, you are very welcome and I thank you for your wonderful words. Yes the beginner’s mind is what drives me everyday to be fresh, inventive and never to duplicate

  4. Humberto 2 years ago

    Master Shane, thanks again for your words and time.

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Humberto, you bet, thank you for your kind words and support

  5. Evgeniy 2 years ago

    I have found this site a day ago and wanted to thank you for all your work. The information that your providing is priceless. Thank you so much!

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Evgeniy, you are very welcome and thank you for your kind words and support

  6. Richard Frantzen 2 years ago

    Excellent advice as usual Shane!
    Such a great moment you gave those filmmakers! Superstar!

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Richard Frantzen, thanks for the kind words and it was so fun to hang with them. Great guys

  7. Brad Watts 2 years ago

    Great post and truly motivational. The knowledge and passion you have and the willingness to share and educate and be so humble amongst the industry success you’ve had shooting some of the biggest movies is truly remarkable. You are a genuine, great person and will be able to look back at your career and your life and know how much you’ve given and feel good about yourself and that’s something I strive to do as well. The mind of a 5 year old is how I approach things all the time without even knowing it.

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Brad Watts, you are so very welcome. WOW!!!!! these are the comments that keep me inspired to deliver what you all want, which is someone to care, someone to share and someone to mentor. This is the HurlBlog’s brick and mortar. Thank you for these wonderful words

  8. Jason Prisk 2 years ago

    Your comment about using the same approach no matter the budget was spot on. Eliminating the excuse, “we don’t have the right gear for this shot” has really helped me to become more creative–and get stuff I never thought possible. Thanks again for all the great posts!

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Jason Prisk, you are so welcome and thank you for those wonderful words. So many people slam me with, “well you have everything, of course it will look good.” I can make a iPhone look good with 2 cents of a production budget. The budget doesn’t matter, you are the artist, you rock it out with what you have got. PERIOD!!!!

  9. Kahleem Poole-Tejada 2 years ago

    Phenomenal article, Shane.
    I can relate to being out of touch with my child-like artistic self at times. I find my triggers tend to be creative gear setups, or thinking of crazy lighting methods from my illustrations.

    In any case, you are so right on the money.
    Being in touch with your childish creative side is KEY to moving and evolving as an artist. Otherwise, it mind as well be a “job”.

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Kahleem Poole-Tejada, thank you for those kind words, yes a beginner’s mind is the way I create. So essential to stay fresh and new, as well as clients, director’s excited about creating something never done before.

  10. Ben Pieper 2 years ago

    Great post Shane. Always inspired reading your posts and really looking forward to catching your latest ingenuity on NFS. Thanks again for all you do for the filmmaking community. Inshane We trust. Cheers, BP

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Ben Pieper, you are very welcome, and thank you for all your support my friend and these wonderful words. InShane we Trust. I love it

  11. Carlos 2 years ago

    Happy Birthday! :)

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Carlos, thank you so much

  12. Jonathan Prieto 2 years ago

    Thanks again Shane for the blog and all the amazing information that you provide. Also it was such an honor for us to enjoy that dinner with you. Really made our week with that once in a lifetime experience and then now for us to see that you have us on your blog, what a real treat!

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Jonathan Prieto, You are very welcome and thank you so much for all these kind words. It was great meeting all of you.

      • Kunal Sachdeva 2 years ago

        Thank you so much Shane for this blog. This is really helpful. One of the best write-ups on
        creativity i’ve read in a really long time. Thank you so much!

        • Author
          Shane 2 years ago

          Kunal Sachdeva, you are very welcome and thank you for your support of this blog

  13. Leo Mumford 1 year ago

    Well done Shane, a very decent and nice thing to do. Yes following ones heart is something that needs to be held onto, some people unfortunately get “serious” and loose that child like quality. It’s an important quality for life as well as anything else.

    Anyway thanks for your posts :)

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Leo Mumford, thank you for your kind words and I feel these are the post that shape all of you as filmmakers. The tools will change but leadership, how you create, and your etiquette on set don’t.

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Thank you Leo, greatly appreciated.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


[et_social_follow icon_style="slide" icon_shape="rounded" icons_location="top" col_number="auto" counts="true" counts_num="0" total="true" outer_color="dark" network_names="true"]