When next you find Ron Howard, he’ll be at the helm of an all-new project with five first-time filmmakers in tow — first-timers, yes, but names that you’re surely familiar with.
Howard and Canon U.S.A. have announced their partnership for Project Imaginat10n, a creative endeavor where consumer photographs will inspire the creation of short films. A similar project in 2011 — Project Imagin8ion — yielded the award-winning short film “when you find me,” directed by Howard’s daughter Bryce Dallas Howard. This time, however, five different directors have been tapped to make their own shorts based on user-submitted photographs: actors Eva Longoria and Jamie Foxx, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, designer and Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.
“[Project Imaginat10n] is just a scaling up of the experiment in a really dynamic way. The five directors are in and of themselves so accomplished and the aesthetics they represent are so diverse,” Howard told MTV News about the project. “I’m really fascinated to see what they come up with.”
But don’t expect to see much, or any, of Howard’s vision in the short films these directors ultimately produce. “I don’t think the experiment is ’how will James Murphy respond to Ron Howard’s leadership?’ I don’t think that’s what we want,” said the director. “I think it’s ’what do James Murphy and Biz Stone bring of themselves to this experiment?’ I’m happy to be a support system and a cheerleader but I think that’s as far as that’s going to go.”
In fact, Howard believes he’s the one who’s going to learn from Foxx, Longoria, Stone, Chapman and Murphy. “I think I’ll learn something when I look at a photograph and see how it’s applied to their film. I’m going to learn something about them and how their imaginations work,” he said. “It’ll challenge me to keep looking more deeply and more open-mindedly at not just old photographs but the world around me and what other people create.”
The whole point of Project Imaginat10n, as Howard explained in the project’s announcement, is to prove that “sources of inspiration can come from anyone or anything,” even something as simple as a photograph. For Howard, the most unusual place he’s found inspiration for a film? The director’s answer, without skipping a beat: “Vomit.”
“When I was going to make a movie in Argentina, ’Gung-Ho,’ I had three young kids on the flight. It was before my son was born,” he recalled. “It was a 17-hour flight to Buenos Aires. In the first twenty minutes of the flight, I was sitting next to Bryce, who was then three and a half or four. I got her to sample some vegetarian sushi that I thought she might like. She sampled it very dutifully and I thought, ’Wow, that’s kind of cool! She wasn’t creeped out! She really did it!’ And then she projectile vomited all over me.”
“I was miserable! I didn’t have a change of clothes. My twin daughters were crying. It was a low point in my life,” the director continued, in much better spirits than he must have been on that day. Later, after landing in Buenos Aires, Howard thought to himself, “’Nobody told me about this. Nobody explained any of this for me.’ And it led to the idea, very directly, of making ’Parenthood.’ I was staring at this seventeen hour old puke stain on my shirt that I hadn’t had the chance to really clean up, and that led to that movie and, all these years later, a TV show.”
The moral of the story? “I think ideas come from puke on your shirt. They come from something you’ve lived and something you’ve observed,” he said. “You never know where that eureka idea is going to come from.”
Visit the Project Imaginat10n website to find out how to get involved with the project.
What do you think of Howard’s new Project Imaginat10n initiative? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter!