Welcome to the Augmented Creativity Podcast with Bob Schultz and Chris Jones
Welcome to the Augmented Creativity Podcast with Bob Schultz and Chris Jones EP001
We have been discuissing an AI / Augmented Creativity Podcast for some time, and today we said, ‘Let’s do it…!’ And here is episode one, complete with AI generated notes from Zoom and a full transcript.
Zoom AI Assistant Notes
AI in Creative Fields: Enhancing Efficiency and Satisfaction
Chris and Bob discussed the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on creative fields, specifically in screenwriting. They highlighted their involvement in the augmented creativity Academy, which aims to use technology to enhance creativity. They also briefly touched on the controversies surrounding AI in creative industries, particularly in relation to the Wga. Strike, but agreed on the potential benefits of AI in facilitating and improving creative expression. Bob expressed his belief in the increasing efficiency and satisfaction of writing screenplays using new technology, noting that this technology is beneficial for writers and other creative professionals. Chris added to the discussion, mentioning the application of AI in summarization, referencing Zoom’s AI tool. They agreed that these technological advancements have the potential to make the creative process more satisfying and efficient, also mentioning that these changes are already being experienced in their current situation of recording via Zoom.
Technology’s Impact on Creativity and Work
Chris and Bob discussed the rapid advancements in technology, noting how it has made certain tasks almost costless and instantaneous. Bob expressed his belief that while there is some concern that technology will replace human jobs, he sees this as an opportunity to allow humans to focus on more creative and strategic work. He dismissed the concern that technology will replace the creative element in humans, predicting that creative jobs will evolve in a positive way.
GPT Tools: New Frontier for Creative Entrepreneurship
Both Bob and Chris shared their experiences with using Gpt tools, specifically mid journey, for creative tasks. Chris, a filmmaker, expressed his love for the tool’s ability to generate evocative content from his imagination. Bob, who initially dove into the tool without instructions, found that it helped him with tasks he disliked, such as creating log lines for stories. Both agreed that Gpt tools were a new frontier for creativity and entrepreneurship.
Revisions and Rewrites: Bob’s Screenplay Strategy
Bob expressed his belief that first drafts of screenplays are traditionally terrible and rely on subsequent revisions to improve the story’s structure, character arcs, and overall quality. He mentioned that he uses a process involving a “zero draft” to start with a basic structure, which he then rewrites into a stronger first draft. He credited this method with helping him create a half draft, which he then rewrites himself to produce a stronger final draft.
AI-Powered Scriptwriting Revolutionized Bob shared his experience of using AI tools to create scripts for movies. He mentioned working with a director and producer who needed a script that could be filmed with one actor, which he delivered in three days instead of the usual six weeks. Bob highlighted the productivity and speed of using AI tools such as Chat Gpt to generate 20 loglines for the story. He also shared that he is currently working with other producers, using AI tools to solve story problems and budget issues. Bob emphasized the importance of speed and flexibility in this process, noting that he quickly pitches five favorite ideas to increase the chances of securing a deal.
Tailoring Approach in Screenwriting
Bob emphasized the importance of tailoring one’s approach to screenwriting, suggesting that aspiring filmmakers should seek out producers and others who are looking for specific types of projects, rather than casting a wide net. He also emphasized the freedom to decline projects that don’t align with personal interests or values. Bob highlighted the use of AI technology like Chat GPT to speed up the writing process, while also clarifying that his approach was still centered around his personal preferences and expertise. An incident where a payment notification interruptively beeped during the session, indicating active engagement with a paid version of Chachi, Pt, served as a testament to Bob’s expertise in the field.
Rapid Evolution and AI in Writing Bob and Chris discussed the fast-paced evolution of their field, emphasizing that it was still changing rapidly, offering opportunities for writers to join in. They encouraged writers to explore the use of AI tools to enhance their creativity and productivity. Chris also reminded the audience of their commitment to providing weekly updates and encouraged those interested to join their dedicated Whatsapp group, London.SWINK.AI. Lastly, Bob advised writers to question their assumptions about the nature of their work, highlighting the rapidity of change.
Transcript of show…
Chris: Hello and welcome to this very first podcast from the ACA, the Augmented Creativity Academy podcast. With me, Chris Jones, and with Bob Schultz.
Chris: How you doing, Bob?
Bob: Doing okay, Chris, how you doing?
Chris: Good, I’m good. I’m a bit in The Matrix or Inception or, you know, what everybody else seems to be at the moment with technology as everything’s racing ahead so quickly. So this being our first podcast that we thought we’d just introduce you to us and what the Acad Augmented Creativity Academy is. Bob, we had a conversation, it feels like 4000 years ago or maybe several months ago when Chat GPT came out and we said, wow, this is amazing for writers.
Bob: Yeah, I mean, it was one of those things that comes along and you wind up thinking, oh, gee, that might be something. I think we need to learn a little bit more about it. And then more and more. It just sort of grew so quickly in terms of public consciousness and what people were saying, what it could do, that all of a sudden learn about it someday and understand it became, I must learn about this immediately.
Chris: And you were very early on that boat, weren’t you? Because you were involved with a podcast with Stephen Follows. Tell us very briefly about what that was all about.
Bob: Sure, yeah. So Stephen Follows, a friend of ours who is always up to date on technology and new innovations, actually got a gig from a major Hollywood studio to write a screenplay along with a friend of his using Chat GPT. It was an experiment to see what it was capable of and what it could do, and they wanted somebody to go ahead and do it. And so Stephen and Eliel, who was working with him, decided they wanted to do a podcast about the process. And so they contacted me because I’m a screenwriter and because through my work at the London Screenwriters Festival, I know a bunch of screenwriters to help book guests and give sort of a screenwriter perspective on it. And the more I heard about it, the more I recognized that, well, this is going to change the whole world. I mean, it’s definitely going to change filmmaking, and it’s definitely going to change creative expression in general. But specifically speaking screenwriting, the place where I make my rent is going to change. And it’s going to change very quickly, not only because of the nature of the technology, but also because of how instinctively it works and how anybody can use it straight out of the box very easily. You don’t need a degree in computer science to understand it.
Chris: Right. And so let’s flash back six months to the beginning of the year when we were talking about, wow, we should run a conference around AI. And as we’ve really redefined it for ourselves, more recently, augmented creativity. So using technology to help you be more creative more of the time with greater efficiency, just more of you, basically. It’s not really about AI taking over, but we thought about running a conference, and then there was a bit of a backlash against AI, and we kind of retreated from it. And then you kind of turned it around and had huge amount of success in your own writing career, and then we decided to start running these.
Bob: Yeah, it’s I’m a big believer, and I know you are too, Chris, of sharing the information that we gather and teaching as well as doing. And it seemed like a natural for the community at large, the creative community at large, to do a lot of instruction around what this stuff really is. It sort of dovetailed with the WGA strike. And one of the I don’t necessarily believe that AI, as people come to know it, was one I don’t necessarily believe that was one of the biggest issues that the WGA had with the AMPTP. But it was, as is often true with these things, the one that caught the public attention the most. It was the sexiest one. So it became very controversial to not only use it, but to advocate for it and to believe in it as a tool that can make creativity easier to express and better. In terms of what I’m trying to say, and how it gets said to the point where we took a step back and said, maybe we’re not ready to sort of stick our hands in that fire. But then the success that I had in pitching projects, using AI to producers showed me that, you know what, it is here to stay, and it’s moving much, much faster. Not only in terms of how satisfying it is for me to write screenplays using it, but also in terms of getting those projects, getting hired to do projects, or getting those projects made simply because of the efficiency that comes along with it. Producers are project managers, and in order to manage a project, you need to have deadlines and specific timelines. And it seems like a natural to use these things to provide to the people buying screenplays and producers and directors exactly what they want. And then as soon as you start pulling on that thread, you see how much potential it has not only for writers, but for actors, directors, and not only AI, not only Chat GPT, but also Mid Journey and other ones straight out the box and some incredible, much more esoteric deep dive type of type of applications that really just make the creative expression process more satisfying for everybody along the way. It’s no longer about chasing your dreams. It’s about doing it right.
Chris: And one of the big, obvious things that we’re experiencing, literally, as we’re recording this now, because we’re recording it on Zoom as well as on an app on our phones, because we’re separated by distance, is that Zoom is going to use its AI summarization tool and we’re going to post what it summarizes this podcast. As with this podcast, along with a transcript, which of course, AI will create for us, those two specific jobs would probably have represented a day and a half or a day’s work for somebody with headphones on. Getting very bored. But now it’s not just done quickly, it’s done in an instant and at pretty much zero cost.
Bob: It’s really amazing that people are concerned that the human element will be eliminated or replaced by a lot of this stuff and things are moving very quickly. And yes, there’s some danger that some things that are traditionally done by humans will now be done mechanically or technologically. But I think that’s an amazing thing because now we can use humans for things other than the humdrum, repetitive, dry work and we can let everybody be creative in their work and contribute to strategy and contribute to the fun stuff that very often we just need people to not do that. The concern that it’s going to replace the creative element, the creative humans, I think is not a legitimate concern, at least not today, as we record. I think that the nature of creative jobs and creative pursuits is going to change, but for my money, it’s going to change in a way that is better. I like to say writing doesn’t take a lot of time. Typing takes a lot of time and tools like GPT can do the typing for you.
Chris: Yeah, I mean, I’m a filmmaker by trade and I do write and can write and I find it frustrating and difficult. But I love image creation and I’ve really gone down the mid journey rabbit hole and I know there’s loads of other tools. I’m just personally on mid journey at the moment and just having the ability to create stuff like I was 15 again and get results almost immediately and not exactly as I saw them in my head, but so extraordinarily evocative of what I was trying to say and achieve with the prompt, with my imagination. I’m personally absolutely loving the mid journey experience. And of course, video is soon to follow and we hope to, during this podcast series, be interviewing thought leaders, experts, world leaders. Imagineers people who have just stumbled into it, found themselves amazingly proficient through accident. It’s that kind of field. It really is the Wild West, the new frontier for creativity and industry and entrepreneurship and all of those things. Bob, I wanted to ask you to share some real world experience from development of screenplays so that we can move from just this abstract concept into real world.
Bob: Yeah, sure. Okay. For starters, when I started experimenting with it, I didn’t exactly know what to do or what to expect from it. And I very quickly sort of started making my mistakes. Like with any creative pursuit, the first thing you do is not read the instructions and dive right in and see what can become of it. And what happens if I push this button? What happens if I push this button? And it seemed to me that what was very exciting and fun was just asking it to do whatever I wanted first. Of course, I start with I find it kind of discouraging or not particularly fun to create log lines for stories. So I would just type into Chat GPT. I have a story about XYZ. Please write me a log line about it. And it did, and it was pretty good. And I’m already saying, okay, this is a great way to use it, taking the parts of the job that I dislike and having it do them for me, which was nothing short of amazing, in my opinion. Following that, I started experimenting some more till I got to the point where I was figuring out ways to have Chat GPT actually write a screenplay for me. Now, Chat GPT is not a strong enough writer to it’s not a strong enough writer to actually write a good screenplay for me. But as any writer will tell you, any creative person will tell you, the good stories don’t come from your first draft.
First drafts are traditionally terrible. So I was able to sort of recognize that instead of writing a draft that is draft zero, which is terrible, and then myself, which takes a number of weeks, and then rewrite that into a first draft, which then I will send out to people whose opinions I respect, chat GPT helps me write a draft one half. It’s like better than a zero draft, but not quite as good as a first draft. But where it is strong is in the areas that tend to you would think that a computer would be strong in. So it’s good at story structure, it’s good at character arcs, it’s good at ideas at sort of ideas of how to get through when you’ve painted yourself into a corner. I was able to use that zero draft to then drag everything into a screenwriting program and do a rewrite based on that. Do a rewrite based on the early draft, that one half draft 0.5 draft that Chad GPT made for me. And that’s great. Very helpful to me to be able to sort of start with a bit of a head start on the writing process. So now I have this half draft and I rewrite it myself, and then I have a first draft that is much, much stronger than a lot of my first drafts were before because things like characters and structure were in place. So I got that sort of format sorted, that procedure sorted. The next thing I did was call a friend of mine who is a movie director and producer, produces his own stuff, usually writes his own stuff. And I said to him, look, I’m working on this AI stuff. What do you need? And can I write something for you? What is it? That you need. And his response was, as it turns out, the first of many responses I got in similar conversations, which was, I don’t know, you could do whatever you want. Hey, wait a minute, I could use this, right? And so as soon as they think about it for a moment, a lot of producers, directors and so on recognize there’s something they want from writers, right? So basically he said, I’m shooting something right now. Actually, I had written a rewrite on the script of what he was shooting right now, and I have this set, but I have a break in shooting right now.
So what I could use is a feature that I can shoot using the same set using one actor, and gave me sort of a rundown of all the different sort of criteria he wants from a script, but I need it right away. And I said, well, you can have it in three days, instead of saying you can have it in six weeks. And that was amazing, it fit right in the window. And he said, do it right. And so I went to Chat GPT and I said, here are my criteria. One character must all take place on this one set. At described has to be very low budget. Basically, you feed in the information that you have for your story and it comes back with and you say, give me 20 log lines for such a story. And then it comes back with 20 possible stories for what you want to do. Maybe ten of them are good, maybe 18 of them are good, maybe none of them are good. Then you say, try 20 more. The brainstorming process is extraordinarily fast and productive. So then I came up with the best ones, pitched a few to him, he said, this is the one I like. And off I went on my previous process. Now I’ve expanded that. Now working with other producers who need something specific or have a rewrite they need to do. And there are little bits you could use the AI tools for. You can help it solve story problems, you can help it solve other problems. You can get notes from a producer and another producer that are contradictory from each other and put it in the Chat GPT and say, I need to add a car chase to the scene and also cut budget. And it’ll give you suggestions and ideas, some of which might be good, some of which might not. And it happens very quickly where previous story meetings might take hours and hours, and you have to find a particular time when everybody’s available.
Now, it can just happen as it goes, it can happen in the moments. And now I have relationships with these producers where literally let me bring up the email here, where literally I get an email and the email says, my financers have asked me for a shark movie. The subject line is sharks. What do you got for that? Now, that was sent to me at 357. On the day that it was sent by 410, I had entered the criteria sharks, low budget, a couple of other things I had said needs to be sharks. We like Jaws, so it needs to have similarities to Jaws and so on. Got 2025 back. Found my five favorites. I mean, nobody wants to read a pitch of 25 log lines. So I found my five favorites, I rewrote them a little bit, sent it back, and it all happened in 15 minutes. That has the advantage of not only getting good ideas and getting them to a producer. It gets them so fast that while somebody is hot for something, while there’s that electricity in there, let’s do this thing. You can ride that wave of enthusiasm into a deal, into being on the slate for somebody, and it works. I sent five. The guy says, Great, I like these five. I’ll consider it. And later on, it’s like, try this one. The one that he said try was not necessarily my favorite of the five, but that’s okay because I still own the other four. I can pitch them someplace else some other time to somebody else or write them on spec. It happens just that fast. And the percentage response of pitching with the sentence, what do you want? I’ll give it to you, is so much higher that anybody looking to become a screenwriter or a filmmaker needs to be doing this. Because instead of just going out with your story and casting a wide net and trying to come to understand and hoping you can find somebody who wants to join the journey, now, it’s different. The old way of doing things was akin to if you’re a plumber going to door to door and knocking on doors and saying, is your sink broken? Okay. Is your sink broken? Okay? No. You go to the people whose sinks are broken and fix their sinks.
What I do now using these tools is go to producers, agents, actors, directors who want a particular thing and give them what they’re looking for. Worst case scenario is they’re impressed enough to come to me next time they want something. Best case scenario is I get a deal. I’m watching as you and I are talking here on this podcast. I’m watching emails come in and text messages come in with story questions for this thing we’re working on right now, right this minute. It’s the life of a working screenwriter, and it is amazing, right?
Chris: So just to be clear, you’re using Chat GPT as a muse and as, I suppose, a junior co writer or assistant who’s doing things really quickly, but then you rewrite, you make better. And again, to be clear, if you’re not interested in writing movies with sharks in them, there’s no way you’re going to enjoy that process with Chat GPT. You’re going to hate it. So you’re still working inside your wheelhouse. You’re still being Bob and doing what Bob loves. You’re just doing it faster.
Bob: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I’m doing it faster, and I’m doing it with an eye towards getting things made, which is, I think, the end goal for lots of writers, lots of screenwriters, anyway. It’s important to remember that. Yes, as you say, if I didn’t want to write a shark movie, I would not pitch a shark movie. I’ve been asked to write other jobs that I am not interested in, and I turned them down. Do you know this is the first time, sitting here at 53 years old, this is my first time in my career as a writer where I felt comfortable enough to turn down paid work in favor of other paid work that I like better. So saying no when someone offers you a writing gig is a feeling of freedom. Look, I hope that this producer finds the right person for that job that I turned down. Nothing personal, it’s just not for me. And I don’t have to do jobs I don’t agree with, and I don’t have to do ones that I consider to be questionable in terms of how the material is going to be treated. It’s crazy, the feeling of creative freedom that has come just in the last few months from having do this. When I say the last few months, I mean, what, five, six months? Is that how long it’s been? We are still out, as you said, on the final frontier.
The frontier is where the exciting stuff happens. Nobody ever makes a movie about the boring town where nothing ever goes wrong. It’s always out on the frontier in the westerns. And here we are. I mean, just a few months back, stephen the one who got the gig to write a screenplay for a studio. Stephen was doing a course, and he asked me to come and sort of speak to the group as, like, a case study. And I said, okay, I’m just some dude who writes. I don’t know what I can bring. And he’s like, no, you’re an expert on this. And I was like, how can I be an expert on this? I only just started. And he’s like, don’t worry, you’re an expert. And so then while we were sitting on stage talking to people, I had accidentally forgotten to mute my phone before going on stage. Rookie mistake for someone going on stage. But while I’m sitting there, my phone goes beep, beep. And so I checked it. I’m saying, sorry, let me check this. And I checked it. And what it was that beeped was the automatic payment for my second payment to the paid version of Chat GPT. So you pay monthly. And I paid as I initially started. So I had been doing this for precisely one month when I was an expert in the field, right? It’s like literally a month had passed and I’m on stage as an expert talking about how to do this thing. It’s that fresh, the ink is still that wet on it and things are still changing every minute and it’s moving so fast that it’s hard to catch up. But, yeah, there’s still time for writers out there to get on the train. It has pulled out of the station, but it’s not going so fast that you can’t run alongside it and jump in a car.
Chris: Right, so I think we can probably wind it up now. I just want to remind everyone that we’re going to be bringing this to you every week now with updates on where tools that can help us be more creative, faster, better, with greater depth, perhaps, we’re going to be doing that every week. If you have resisted AI so far, dive in, just have a play with Chat GPT and find one of the image creation software tools I’m using mid Journey that’s paid for, but I know Bing has got a tool that people are loving right now. And before I just come back to you at the end, Bob, just a reminder, if you want to join the conversation with us, we have a dedicated WhatsApp group which is at Londonswf Link slash AI. That’s Londonswf link slash. AI. That’s a dedicated WhatsApp chat group that is growing terminator style at an exponential rate. And of course, Bob and I have got stuff going on pretty much every month. So, Bob, any final piece of advice for writers before we conclude?
Bob: Just get ready to question everything that you’ve taken for granted as reality copyright. It’s going to change a lot within minutes. What you’re capable of, what you are incapable of, what technology is capable of. It’s going to change super fast and all the time, the only thing that is consistent now is the evolution of what we do.
Chris: Fantastic. Brilliant. Okay, well, we look forward to seeing you, seeing everybody again in a week’s time and thanks very much for joining us. Bob, over to you.
Bob: Thanks. Thanks, everyone, for coming. See you next time. And please contact us and let us know what you’re thinking and what you would like for us to talk about in future episodes.
Chris: Thank you.