August 15th, 2012
03:13 PM ET
If you're a creator who needs help crafting something more ... well, creative, Ron Howard would tell you to study a few photographs.
It's the premise of his work with Canon U.S.A. and this year's "Project Imaginat10n," in which five celebrities each create a short film inspired by a snapshot submitted to Canon's "Project," and it's a theory that's also aided Howard in his own work.
The Oscar-winning director worked with "Project Imagin8tion" last year as well, and he noticed that for his upcoming '70s-era racing film "Rush," he wasn't using photographic images only for research purposes.
" 'Rush' is very research-dense because it’s about Formula 1 racing in the ‘70s, so it’s not just about going and recapturing that period. It’s also a sport I needed to learn a lot about," Howard said. "On any film I would’ve been looking at a lot of research photos, but I know that in a handful of circumstances, I was just more open to thinking not just about the atmosphere but also what the images I was seeing had to say about the story, and what they potentially had to say about our story. It guided me. Not as dramatically as this 'Project Imaginat10n' – the filmmakers are to be guided by the images first – but it definitely taught me that there’s another set of really stimulating possibilities if you take a moment, look at your story, look at these photographs, and find links and let your imagination run with it a little bit."
With this year's "Project Imaginat10n," Eva Longoria, Jamie Foxx, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, and LCD Soundsystem founder James Murphy will be tasked with selecting an image from a group narrowed down by Canon, Howard and community votes, and creating a short film to be showcased in what Canon calls the "first photography-inspired film festival" in 2013.
Howard's met with the five directors, and while he says they all have his number and ear when it comes to developing their scripts and their sequences, he's more of a cheerleader than a creative influence.
"These people are creative dynamos. They’re leaders in their fields. The more interesting thing is [not] 'let's experiment with how they might be influenced by Ron Howard,' " he said. "Let’s see how they respond to the concept of Project Imaginat10n as devised by Canon. ... I’m there as a support system and I’m making myself available for that but I’m not trying to influence the creative choices they make. That’d be underestimating them and undercutting this kind of fun of the program."
Part of this year's appeal for Howard is the diversity of the group, and he's particularly interested to see how Stone's technology background and Chapman's fashion background will influence their final products.
"The Canon association and the 'Project Imaginat10n' has been, frankly, everything I hoped it would be when I got involved," Howard added. "A fun creative experience and a chance to think outside the box a little bit."
When not working with "Project Imaginat10n," Howard's busily editing 2013's "Rush," which stars Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde and Daniel Brühl, collaborating with writers on what his next film project might be, and also contributing a bit to "Arrested Development's" return.
"Mitch Hurwitz firmly has 'Arrested Development' under control," Howard said. "I might read a script here and there and throw in my two cents but mostly my job is to be the narrator. I’m also told that I’m going to have to make an appearance as I did in the last episode of 'Arrested Development' - I’m showing up again at some point. So, I’m going to have to film that soon which will be kind of fun. Usually I’m a little too busy, but, with Mitch and 'Arrested Development,' it’s irresistible."
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