Behind the Scenes

The Power Behind Tinker Time

The Power Behind Tinker Time
Written by Molly McKinney Walker


I heard on a podcast recently that our brains are subject to more information in the first fifteen minutes of waking up today, then previous generations experienced over the course of a WEEK just fifty years ago. 

As a proud member of what they’re calling “the sandwich generation”, this actually made me feel a sense of relief.  My husband and I run La Storia, a production studio and a film equipment rental business, LSP Film Rentals, together.  We also parent human and canine children and have been helping care for our aging parents.  For us (and a billion others in the same boat) “time” these days has almost felt like an illusive gift that whenever we get it - it’s something to control, harness, or really make the most use of.

That approach then applied to our work meant that in the past, I didn’t see much value (beyond maintaining a happy company culture) in our team spending time “creating” unless there was a signed client contract in place or the hours were billable. 

That’s until our Head of Creative, RC Walker, and our Associate Creative Director, Steve Paschall, came up with Tinker Time. And I can tell you first-hand, since then - our company and work have never been the same. 

The officially unofficial definition of Tinker Time is intentional, scheduled time (like “on everyone’s calendar” scheduled) for our creatives to tinker, try, and fail in safe space without the pressures of budgets, on-set clients, overtime, approvals, people-pleasing, set hierarchies, etc… 

The execution?  At least one Friday a month - we set aside a day for our creative team to try out new concepts, test new gear, and even take a stab at new roles.  Sometimes we have flushed out proof of concepts in mind that we want to show vs. tell a client about. Other times we just want to see if a half-baked idea one of us had in the shower might actually work.  But the main takeaway is simple; there’s no pressure or expectations placed on our team to produce anything usable or of value from these sessions. 

The result?  Our team has always produced something usable or of value from these sessions.  

And the lessons we’ve learned during them have transcended into many, if not all, of the projects we’ve taken on this year. 

This was especially apparent on a recent campaign we produced with MNTN for Balance of Nature.  We utilized our tinker time leading up to this shoot to turn our studio into a laboratory of exploring powders.  We tested out air pressure rigs to know how to build our own custom system when it came time on the pre-light day.  We camera tested a new slow motion camera and lens package to identify the perfect frame rate ahead of our shoot day. And if you were wondering whether there is a proper technique for synchronized dropping of fruits and vegetables on-camera, wonder no longer: we tested that too, and there absolutely is.  

[Wave color test filmed & edited by Dir. of Photography: Troy Ten Eyck]

Equipped with a crew and clients who were willing to go home looking like they returned from the Holi festival, we entered the Production phase of this project feeling energized, prepped and confident and delivered a campaign that we’re all pretty darn proud of and celebrates the vibrant colors of this life.

For us - Tinker Time has helped us push our creative farther, given our concepts legs, strengthened our confidence, humbled us on countless occasions, and probably saved our company (and our clients) money in the long run.  

In front of the camera, I also host a TV series for NASA and one of my colleagues over there uses a phrase with his engineers that is essentially, “Failure is not an option. It’s a requirement”.  The takeaway being that true innovation and progress can’t be achieved without finding the line and pushing past it.  If we don’t give ourselves space to try, fail and get lost in the creative of this craft, are we in it for the right reasons? 

Ultimately, everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day.  How you use them though… is entirely up to you.


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