Edgar Wright’s interactive web comic Brandon Generator made it onto our Cool List 2012 with its clever premise: the titular hero (voiced by Julian Barratt) has writer’s block and we – the IE9 wielding audience – have to come to his rescue with photos, storyline ideas and inspirational voicemail messages.
We’ve collared Edgar Wright to pick his brains on how to get the creative juices flowing – read on to find out where the Shaun of the Dead director gets his ideas from.
Pick the right soundtrack
“When I was writing, I’d use a lot of random interjections,” says Wright. “I would listen to my music by song length and listen to all the short ones first – although you do end up hearing loads of intro tracks and skits from hip-hop albums at the start.”
Another trick that the director of Scott Pilgrim vs the World uses to banish creative block is to drive around and record the car radio scanning through all the frequencies, then listen back to it. Perfectly normal behaviour.
Make some word salad
Maybe that movie script still hasn’t written itself. Wright usually tries to note down street names and surnames of people in the news and make lists so that “stuff subconsciously seeped in” to his writing.
But Brandon’s techniques “get a bit more desperate”, according to Wright. “I like the idea that somebody would be so stuck they’d get a bunch of Scrabble tiles, chuck them on the table and see what it spelled. I’ve never done that and I’ve never done the ‘word salad’ thing where you cut up papers – apparently David Bowie used to do that.”
Play video games
Wright reckons – like we do – that games like LA Noire are getting more sophisticated “in the way they tell stories”. Would he make a game, maybe Scott Pilgrim style? “After the Scott Pilgrim experience and Brandon Generator, I think it’d be really interesting to do,” he says. “Movies and games are already converging and they will continue to do so.”
Make interesting friends
Brandon Generator is based on “this guy called Edgar Wright who drinks too many espressos” but Wright also thinks that Julian Barrett plays the tortured artist role pretty easily and isn’t “a million miles” away from The Mighty Boosh’s Howard Moon.
“He’s got the kind of personality that inspires compassion,” says Wright. “Most of the people we’ve had leaving voicemails are people leaving worried messages for him.”
Get other people to be creative for you
“My idea was to have someone who has a blackout and wakes up to prose, drawings and audio messages. At the end people can then go to the hub and record, draw and write your own ideas down.
“What was really great about reading the submissions was that a whole bunch of people were going in the right direction. There are phrases and character names that I’ve taken from users and I want to credit all the users who submitted stuff.” Head over to Brandon Generator now, using Internet Explorer 9, now to do your bit. Provided you can think of anything.