Inspiration from a Slaughterhouse

Unmotivated. Lazy. Creatively constipated . Is this you?


by Signe Olynyk

After months of little progress, I tried this wondrous thing called the internet. I googled. Meat freezer. Slaughterhouse. Trapped in cooler. Words that I hoped would trigger some sort of creative anything. As I searched, I came across an abandoned, slaughterhouse near Edson, Alberta that was for sale. After contacting the woman who owned it, I asked if I could come for a visit.

When I got there, I then asked if she would lock me in her freezer, and NOT LET ME OUT – until the script was done.1426574_passion

Admittedly, this does sound somewhat… extreme. Looking back, the expression on her face (part fear, part confusion, mixed with a whole lot of ‘are you friggin kidding’) was understandable. But anyone who knows me also understands how obsession, and the quest for authenticity in one’s craft often removes the ability to reason.

After spending five days locked in the freezer, I emerged with a completed script. A year later, we were in production on the feature film, ‘Below Zero’, filming in the same location I wrote it, with stars Edward Furlong (Green Hornet, American History X, Terminator II), horror icon, Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, Weird Science), and Kristin Booth (Young People Fucking, The Kennedys).

I then asked if she would lock me in her freezer… until the script was done.

I’ll write another time about how we did THAT. But for now, let’s get back to that solution I promised you. How do you get past your own creative ice block? Where do you find inspiration in your own life?

I’m not saying you have to lock yourself in the freezer of an abandoned slaughterhouse to write a great script. But you do have to be willing to do what it takes. Inspiration is a luxury, and we should all cling to it when the muKnifese strikes, like the welcome friend she is.

Most of the time, we have to create our own inspiration. To my workaholic mind, that generally means making a ‘to do list’ and racing around to accomplish a whole bunch of things to ‘inspire’ inspiration. But the opposite is generally true. What we really need to do… is often, nothing.

Inspiration is a luxury.

‘Nothing’ means just experiencing the laughter of our children, and the company of good friends and family. Finding it in the movies, books, and tv shows we love. Taking walks and ‘nature moments’ where we simply breathe and appreciate the world we live in. Getting rest and taking vacations, so we are capable of even being inspired.

I haven’t decided what I am going to write next, but having myself locked up in a freezer seemed to be the only way I could overcome my own writer’s block. Perhaps my next script will be about some guy, trapped in Club Med. That sounds so… inspiring.

-Signe Olynyk 

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Signe OlynykSigne Olynyk is a Writer / Producer, who also is founder of the Great American PitchFest Screenwriting Conference, held annually in Los Angeles, CA.

Signe is also behind the Great British PitchFest, held in partnership with the London Screenwriters’ Festival in the UK. You can check out her movie, Below Zero.

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About the Author

Jamie Campbell

Jamie Campbell is an author, screenwriter, and television addict.Jamie is proud to be an Editor for The Story Department.Her latest series Project Integrate is out now.

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