AIFF 2013: From Nothing, Something – A Documentary On The Creative Process

From Nothing, Something is perhaps (in my opinion from what I’ve seen) the documentary of this year’s Ashland Independent Film Festival.

The documentary, directed by Tim Cawley, chronicles the creative process. But where this diverges from most creativity based documentaries, is that some of the participants are not who you would expect.

Cawley interviews the type of people that you would expect: composers, architects, video game designers, alongside high profile interviews with comedian Maria Bamford and the Sara portion of indie rock duo Tegan and Sara. However, he also speaks to a pair of cancer researchers Moungi Bawendi and W. David Lee, who created a handheld scanner that lights up cancer cells in order to make surgery more effective.

These are the careers that don’t make the short list of creative leaning jobs, and probably rarely make the long list. However, these jobs are just as creative as the others profiled in the film. They follow ultimately similar processes as they create. It was an eye opening idea that makes absolute sense.

Through the film we hear about what inspires these individuals to create whatever it is that they create, how they overcome hurdles, how they face criticism and ultimately, how they measure success.

The film had a powerful effect on me. I felt inspired to create something, anything, after leaving the theater. Jason Rohrer, the video game designer interviewed for the film, gives the simplistic but powerful advice to start out, just start.

From Nothing, Something was preceded by the short documentary The Perfect Fit, which takes a quick inside look at the crafting of ballet shoes. The films fit together perfectly as it is a career that one may not think creative, but does hold that spark.

The film’s 10 minute run time showed the brilliant juxtaposition between the graceful and beautiful act of ballet and the brutal and violent looking process that goes into the creation of the shoes. Dancers move and twirl, intercut between scenes of men with gnarled hands hammering violently on a pair of shoes.

For more information and future screening dates for From Nothing, Something, visit You can also watch The Perfect Fit for $2.49 at

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