Tatjana Green is a Canadian/German filmmaker based in NYC and Toronto. Having spent the first eight years of her career as a creative director for various advertising agencies she saw an opportunity to transition into the film industry to help smaller ideas see the light of day from a production stand-point. In addition to her advertising background she has now combined that with on set and location experience throughout the last 10 years as a director/producer forging new content and ideas for various international clients and projects including P&G, Absolut, Toyota, Tassimo, US Foods, The Economist, Warner, Walmart and many more. Her ability to bring design philosophy and aesthetic to each set comes from her training at the Bauhaus in Germany. Her commercials, short films, music videos and filmed content series have screened and been awarded at many festivals including; Webby Awards, Berlin Independent Film Festival, Hollyshorts LA Film Festival, LA Femme Film Festival, Seattle Shorts Film Festival, Austin Music Video Festival, and Toronto Independent Film Festival to name a few.
I'm the kind of creative person that can’t sit still. My brain doesn’t shut off… ever. Each conversation I overhear can be turned into a potential scripted dialogue. My morning walk to grab a coffee paints a scene for that script, my local bartender or barista become characters in a story, my daily banter with them becomes the backstory for a mood board I start to visualise for a new film, product or business venture I’m concepting. It’s exhausting - I get deeply invested into every idea. Everything that comes across my desk becomes a shiny new opportunity I feel the need to breathe life into. Each treatment deck becomes a translation of thoughts, visuals and moments collected from experiences along this life of travel, advertising and film I’ve ventured through.
I judge the creativity of a piece of work by asking, Have I seen it before?
My experience in North America vs. Europe is vastly different. In NA we live in a world of 'proof of concept' and showing clients things that have been done as a method of creating something safe. In Europe, they demand showing clients something never done before. I will never forget my first and most impactful mentor, a very respected Creative Director in Duesseldorf at one of the ad agencies I interned at. One day in the boardroom for my first presentation - I was sweating and twitching from nervousness about being critiqued on my first campaign design for their client. He calmly looked at me and said - “I don’t want to see something I can recognise. I want something no one has thought of, no one has considered, no one has dared trying. That is what this campaign needs - inventors. Not copy cats for the sake of saving their jobs.” With that, I felt a huge release to explore all facets of design, fine art, or physics, anything really to push an idea forward past the expected. So now I judge creativity by inventiveness and whether or not I’ve seen something similar to it already.
I’ll start writing thoughts down. Then rewrite those written words. Then rewrite the rewritten words that were written. Rewind and refine. I’ll generally begin image searches early on with any project. Sometimes that occurs even before writing, as it’s my strongest language and tool. Images over words help me formulate what I want to say and then reorganise thoughts in a more visually methodical way for client presentations and treatments. I’ll spend hours tearing images and call-out quotes from magazines new and old that call attention to an idea I want to work on.
Listening to music that suits the mood of the idea also helps. Lyrics to songs can propel me in the right direction when feeling stumped. One time I had to create a premise for a strong female focused athletic brand campaign and the lyrics from strong female voices both in spoken word poetry and sung anthemic chords helped carve out the path I was looking for. These ideas will weave themselves into the treatment as strategic suggestions for artist or brand integrations and partnerships.
The work is never done in my opinion, that’s the beauty of any art in this field. You can stand back from a piece you’ve spent a year or a day painting and call it complete. Just like we do with our treatments for clients when the deadline arrives. We all know we could tweak and refine forever.
Growing up between Canada and Germany made for a very polarising life in terms of what living in two different worlds expected of me. I attribute a lot of that experience to how I think and create now. Creative methods and exploration were different depending on which country I was in. Being in Europe helped plant the idea of art and commerce being able to cohabitate and actually support one another. Whereas Canada and the US kept those industries separated but granted access to larger global brands through an artform they called 'advertising.' Europe was about exploring artful concepts and thinking through philosophy for a much longer time before executing vs NA where we tend to get pressured into executing immediately and not always think through all angles due to pressure of deadlines. Exposure to both since I was 16 years old created my habits of thinking through everything at a high pace to appease the demands of NA thinking and creative expectations of EU thinking. Pressure and stress have become components of what I need to push an idea to its best position for execution but not losing sight of creating a strong concept at its core. My years in the advertising world helped carve out where I am now as it represented a place where ideas went to die in the boardroom.
Ever since transitioning into production I see it in an entirely new way - being able to help partner with those exact boardroom members now and bring the idea to life with innovative ways of thinking is what fuels me. I feel a sense of freedom in thinking and adventuring into concepts that wouldn’t last in the ad world and it’s almost revered now being on this side in production. I believe it’s time for agencies to release the confines of thinking that is fea- based in the boardroom and allow for failure and success to co-exist. To allow for large and artful ideas to find the space they need and not be scared that things can’t be executed to fit an exact target, because truly no amount of focus groups will ever truly reveal and forecast the target audience you didn’t expect to attract with an idea not seen before 🙂