The Origins of Sparkplug Creations
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
In 2008 I dreamed about starting a company with the mission to create video games to engage, empower, and educate people about important social issues.
At the time, I had a favorite saying, “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.” I believed that video games from a systems design perspective was the best medium available for creating engaging content that can help people understand the complex systems involved in creating the current state of our world, either positive or negative.
However, for a variety of reasons, I wasn’t ready to start Sparkplug Creations and instead decided to continue working in the video games industry as a games designer.
I Wanted to Make a Film
In the Spring of 2010, I was in between jobs when inspiration struck me. I suddenly wanted to make a documentary film about empowered patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis who use controversial alternative treatments when nothing else works. My experience with Crohn’s disease told me that this film needed to be made and I only had one chance to make it.
But there was one problem. And it wasn’t a small problem either. That problem was that I had never made a documentary film before. I didn’t own a video equipment of any kind. I didn’t even study film in college or high school or fiddle with it as kid!
Created a Few Key Rules to Follow
I knew right off the bat that I was at a great disadvantage and I would probably fail spectacularly. In order to succeed, I had to come up with some supportive beliefs that would help me, not block me from my dream of making a documentary film.
I thought some of you might like to know how I was able to start production of my documentary and how that led to the eventual official formation of Sparkplug Creations.
1. It’s OK Not Knowing Everything
My first supportive belief was that it’s OK not to know everything. I knew that I didn’t have all the knowledge needed to make the documentary that I wanted, but I knew that I didn’t need to know everything right now. It was more important to start now, and learn as I went along. Knowledge and skills don’t develop overnight and so I accepted that I didn’t know everything, and what little I did know, which was next to nothing, was perfectly OK!
2. It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
My second supportive belief was that it doesn’t have to be perfect. With limited knowledge, nothing was going to be perfect at first. As a perfectionist in certain things, it can be my own worst enemy. It paralyzes me from progressing towards my goals when I think quality isn’t high enough or that the process is “right”. When it comes to processes, there is no “right” process.
What matters is what works for you. It is better to start with a process despite not knowing what you are doing and learn from that. You can only get better with continued effort.
3. Accept Failure
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
Unfortunately, in our highly competitive modern society, we all grow up to be afraid of failure. I think the world would be a much better place if weren’t so afraid of failing all the time. When you accept failure, you do more and you learn more and that leads to getting better at what you do, faster.
My third supportive belief was to accept failure.
4. Have Fun
My fourth and final supportive belief was to have fun. I strived to relax and have fun with my dream! When it gets too serious, it can start to lose the magic because there is a huge amount of stress being placed on me, often coming from myself. My energy will drain, I’ll lose sleep and begin wanting to escape working on the project.
But if I keep it relaxed and fun I’ll enjoy myself and the project more, which will then motivate me to keep working on it through the end.
Documentary Sparked a New Career
The approach to producing my documentary worked so well that I fell in love with video production and decided to make it into a career. In December of 2010 I launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund production of the film.
I surpassed my mandatory goal of $10,550, reaching a little over $11,000. After my initial success, it felt right to revisit my original intention of forming Sparkplug Creations as a social issue driven video game company and launch it as a general purpose media production company starting with production of videos to help empower patients to improve their health. The door is always open in the future to develop other empowering media if I feel it can help others.
At the time of writing this, I am in the editing phase of my documentary, WANTED: Crohn’s End. In early 2013 I expanded my business to accept clients who want to use video to spark change in others. I am happy to be a resource for those who understand that video can spark catalytic change in people.
Have you started a dream or even completed one? Do you have any inspiring advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments because I’d love to read about it and it might help someone else.