Spotlight: CTRL Collective

Quick update: I’m finishing up some writing work I’ll be submitting to lit agents in the coming months, but in the meantime — I just wanted to give a shout-out to a wonderful place I’ve been working at.

If you’re looking for an inspiring and conducive environment to write / create / make / startup / incubate ideas in Los Angeles (or Denver), I highly recommend the locations of CTRL Collective.  They don’t see themselves as a “co-working” space (per se) — instead they’re more of a “super collider” of innovation.  Regardless of how they’re classified (read this next part to the tune of “Sound of Music”) — these are a few of my favorite thingsssss:

  • The decor is contemporary and modern with a touch of flair (think wood and metal meet chandelier and neon).
  • Perhaps my favorite elements are the sound-proof booths where I hold timed writing-sprints.
  • There are plenty of meeting rooms and a beautiful “create” lab that you can reserve for group endeavors like photo shoots, etc.
  • Locally-sourced coffee always hot and on-tap.
  • Dogs galore (at least in the Pasadena location); for me this is awesome because I don’t have a pup of my own, but I get to pet the beauties in between my writing stints.
  • Great locations near major public transit systems.
  • With your membership, you get access to the facilities 24 / 7 with your keycard.
  • Friendly staff!

So again — if you’re in L.A. or Denver and looking for a place to break out your next big project — check these guys out!

Book Review: Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace

What makes Pixar so ... magical?  Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace unveil the secrets behind Pixar's mysterious legacy in Creativity, Inc. In each chapter, we see the struggles and perseverance of a company not built on platitudes and mantras, but a community fortified by hard-work, honesty and passion.

For example, did you know that Toy Story 2 had a deadline to hit theaters in six months—and the Pixar team decided to rewrite the script because it wasn't working? (Keep in mind they still had yet to animate the film.)  Yeah.  Pixar mustered the chutzpah to attempt that kind of gambit because they wanted the film to be the best it could, and yet pay off it did–as Toy Story 2 was released to a massive box-office haul and universal critical acclaim (with many saying it trumped the original).

You're also welcomed to be a fly on the wall of a Pixar screening of a film in early, rough animatic form–which is followed by the hallowed "Braintrust" meeting–where open candor and constructive criticism rule the day.  Brilliant writers and directors give their heartfelt notes to a director and producer (who may be a wee bit too close to the material), and everyone honestly points out what's working and what isn't, so that the story can ultimately blossom and be the best it can be.  This is not a culture built on fear, but rather they understand that falling down is simply part of the creative process, as is dusting yourself off and getting back up.  I believe the storied Director Andrew Stanton said my favorite quote in the book:

”Fail fast and fail often."

What Ed & Amy share with us isn't glittery magic—they pull back the curtain on a team that forces itself to ask the hard questions about their work—and this team keeps working as a positive, encouraging unit until they get it right.  While this is especially convicting for a writer like myself, I believe the principals presented in this book can benefit anyone who creates or works with others to get their job done.