DiscoverSpark & Fire: Fuel Your Creativity
Spark & Fire: Fuel Your Creativity

Spark & Fire: Fuel Your Creativity

Author: WaitWhat

Subscribed: 188,703Played: 688,000
Share

Description

Every creative work you’ve ever loved has a hero’s journey behind it. On Spark & Fire, you'll hear creators tell the story of bringing one beloved work to life. 

Iconic creatives — like Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz, Pixar director Domee Shi, comedian Patton Oswald, musician Wynton Marsalis, and novelist Isabel Allende — share the endless iterations, the inevitable setbacks, and the breakthrough ideas along the epic process of creation. But this isn’t an interview show. It’s a story — told entirely in the artist's own words.

Spark & Fire is a WaitWhat original series in partnership with the BBC. Season 2 out now.

With host June Cohen, cofounder of WaitWhat and the former executive producer of TED Talks.

Transcripts and images for every episode are available at sparkandfire.com

Sign up for the weekly Spark & Fire newsletter.

30 Episodes
Reverse
“I want to make this into theater, in a way that’s never been done before.” When Kamilah Forbes first reads Between the World and Me, by her friend Ta-Nehisi Coates, she’s moved, shaken, gutted by its truth and beauty. She dreams of presenting it at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, a legendary space for Black art and excellence. First step: convince Ta-Nehisi. In this episode, Kamilah shares the work’s journey from book to stage to HBO — during a pandemic — in a story of collaboration and trust, joy and challenge.Follow along (with transcript and amazing photos) at https://sparkandfire.comSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a creativity master. Many of us know him as an actor and director, but Joseph also co-created the collaborative media platform HitRECord. Joseph shares the journey of developing HitRECord: how it evolved from a single page of HTML to a global community of creative collaborators. Joseph’s story reveals that you have to take responsibility for your own creativity. Don’t stand by until an opportunity finds you. It’s in your power to participate, find collaborators you love, and share your work with the world.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/hitrecord/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
There’s an intimidating blank page. A blinking cursor staring you down. A looming deadline for a project you haven’t touched. Sometimes, starting something new is the hardest part of the creative process. In this episode, you’ll hear from 5 creative people in 5 different fields offering 5 different strategies for how to start something new.Featuring novelist Ann Patchett on “The Dutch House,” Pixar director Domee Shi talking about “Turning Red,” “Wicked” composer Stephen Schwartz, the designer Thomas Heatherwick, and salsa legend Rubén Blades.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com.Listen to the full episodes that inspired this mixtape:Novelist Ann Patchett: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/AnnPatchettFullEpPixar director Domee Shi: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/DomeeShiFullEpWicked composer Stephen Schwartz: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/StephenSchwartzFullEpDesigner Thomas Heatherwick: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/ThomasHeatherwickFullEpSalsa legend Rubén Blades: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/RubenBladesFullEpSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Stephen Schwartz has a motto for songwriting: Tell the truth, and make it rhyme. In this episode, Stephen tells the story of composing the Broadway musical Wicked. Not only does Stephen reinvent a beloved classic for the stage, he also commits to drawing out the universal truths — like the experience of friendship, betrayal, and love — that connect us all. This allowed Wicked to resonate with audiences in a real way, making it one of the most successful musicals of all time. Stephen’s story shows that when your work expresses a universal truth, the widest audience will respond. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/stephenschwartzSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Felix Barrett, MBE, is the artistic director of Punchdrunk, a British theater company that specializes in immersive storytelling. In this episode, Felix shares the story of Sleep No More, Punchdrunk’s most famous and longest-running show. Sleep No More is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth through a film noir lens. As Felix experiments with the production, he doesn’t get lost in the grandeur of it. He stays focused on the details: from finding the perfect abandoned building, to secret passageways, to the music playing in the background. Getting those small details just right — again and again — created a larger-than-life experience for audiences. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/punchdrunkSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When Pixar asked Domee Shi to create a feature film, she ran to her friend’s office and rolled on the floor with joy. It was a dream come true. But Domee had to learn how to own her unique creative voice with all eyes on her, which meant embracing her inner weirdo. As Domee shares the story of directing Turning Red, you'll hear how she commits to seeing her outlandish ideas through and surrounds herself with people who can recognize a great, weird idea when they see one. When Turning Red released on Disney+ in 2022, it immediately broke viewership records on the platform, showing Domee that her specific quirks were more universal than she thought. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at https://sparkandfire.com/turningredSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
How do you write the stories of your life? Any time, any place, any order. Isabel Allende was 39, and a refugee from her native Chile, when she started writing a letter to her dying grandfather – recounting the family stories he'd told her – of love, loss, memory, magic. This letter evolved into her first novel, the beloved epic "The House of the Spirits.” With her trademark warmth and wit, Isabel shares how she found the time and space to write as she rebuilt her life – and how her 500-page typed manuscript, heavy with correction fluid and coffee stains, found its way to the agent in Madrid who made it an instant international sensation. Throughout the story – told entirely in Isabel's brilliantly chosen words – you'll hear never-before-told details about her creative process and journey, including ideas on story structure and writing rituals; first readers and family politics – all of which can fuel your own story-telling.A novelist, storyteller and social activist, Isabel Allende is the author of The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna among many other novels; her nonfiction works include the powerful double autobiography Paula. Follow her at @IsabelAllendeFollow along (transcript and amazing photos) at https://sparkandfire.com/isabelallende/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Finding the right collaborator, and growing together, is a creative feat. While songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez were writing the iconic songs to "Frozen," they discovered the key ingredient to a successful and lasting collaboration: generosity. Kristen and Robert offer insight on how to be a generous collaborator — from not walking out the door when things get tough, to offering space to play together. Being generous with your collaborator creates an alchemy that is truly magical. For Kristen and Robert, that meant writing songs like "Let It Go" for two of the most successful animated films of all time. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/frozenSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Musician Kayhan Kalhor shares the story of composing and performing “Silent City,” his epic 25-minute piece for the kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle) and ensemble. It’s a specific story about writing music to memorialize a devastating event, the massacre of innocents in Halabja, Iraq. But the takeaway is universal: When life feels too much to bear, create art that means something — for yourself and for others. As Kayhan takes us on the journey of creating “Silent City,” you’ll hear him find ways to bear witness to tragedy — and also celebrate the life that comes after. You’ll also hear how music-making, for him, is an ongoing quest for beauty, humanity, and meaning. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/kayhanLearn more about Silent City on Kayhan Kalhor’s website:: https://kayhankalhor.net/albums/silent-city/You can hear the final movement of Silent City on Silkroad’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s804M9uGiAM See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Deep in the pandemic, visual artist Mark Bradford began work on an epic series called “The Unicorn Tapestries.” It’s inspired by the iconic medieval work of the same name, but created with everyday materials that speak to Mark’s experience: comic book papers, caulk, and other materials from the hardware store, layered and glued and then scratched and etched away to create a tapestry like no other. As he shares each stage of his process in his own words, Mark also shares a mindset that every creative person can apply to their own work: Find what you need to fuel your creativity. Mark Bradford is one of the most renowned visual artists working today, working in painting, printmaking, video, sculpture, and installation. He was the United States’ 2017 representative to the Venice Biennale, and his work is collected by museums around the world, from LA to Hong Kong. In 2009 he was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant, among many awards and honors. He is based in Los Angeles and is represented by Hauser & Wirth. Learn more about Mark Bradford: https://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/2838-mark-bradford/Visit the Agora Exhibition to see Mark's body of work in an expanded context, along with several other works from 2019–2021. And, check out Museu de Serralves to learn more about “The Unicorn Tapestries” premiere in Porto, Portugal.Follow along, with transcript and photos, at sparkandfire.com/bradfordSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When Ann Patchett sat down to read through her first draft of The Dutch House, she realized she had made a terrible mistake. A wrong turn, on page 36, sent the entire rest of the novel careening down the wrong path. So what’d she do? Deleted it and started over. Sometimes, committing to doing your very best work means destroying it and going again. In her own words, novelist Ann Patchett shares the story of writing her award-winning novel — from the prolonged period of preparation, and the active defense against distractions, to the advice from friends that she took without a second thought. Plus: hear how she recruited Tom Hanks to read the audiobook.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/annpatchettSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
What do you do when you fear you’ve lost touch with your creative voice? You let yourself feel it, and then open yourself up to inspiration. When comedian Patton Oswalt suddenly lost his wife, he also feared he would lose himself. As he processes his grief, Patton takes us on the journey of finding his voice again, through the making of two very different comedy specials: “Annihilation” and “I Love Everything.” You’ll hear how grief can give way to creativity — and creativity can forge a path through grief. With grace and humor, Patton recovers his voice by, first, opening his eyes to the world around him, and then, making himself available for the inspiration to come to him.Patton Oswalt has been a stand-up comedian since the ’90s, coming up in the alt-comedy scene. He’s starred in feature films and beloved TV shows like Ratatouille, Parks and Recreation, AP Bio, and King of Queens. His latest Netflix comedy special (and Grammy-nominated album) is We All Scream.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com.Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
How do you create deeply imaginative work? There’s a method behind the magic. As Rian Johnson (Last Jedi, Looper, Brick) takes us on the journey of joyfully reinventing the murder-mystery, you’ll hear the way he draws on childhood memories (like watching Agatha Christie movies in his grandparents' rambling old house) to inspire his work. You’ll also hear he rigorously structures his creative process – including when, where and how he writes – in order to be playful and present when he shows up on set. Within this story, you'll hear tactics (and lots of creative techniques) you can borrow to fuel your own creative journey, whatever your field.Rian Johnson is a director and screenwriter, the creator of "Knives Out" and the director of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." Follow him on Twitter at @RianJohnson.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at http://sparkandfire.com/knivesout/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
You hit a creative dead end. You’re lost in the forest of thought. Let’s face it: you’re stuck. But getting stuck is part of the creative journey. We hear it in every story on this show. So today, we’ve chosen our 5 favorite strategies on how to regain your creative momentum, and get unstuck. Featuring Jurassic Park book designer Chip Kidd, Apollo Theatre’s Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes, Soul filmmaker Kemp Powers, as well as a sneak peek into Season 2 with comedian Patton Oswalt and Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com.Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Season 2 – Coming Soon

Season 2 – Coming Soon

2022-10-2002:031

Every creative work you’ve ever loved has a story behind it. On Season 2 of Spark & Fire, we will hear what really happens on the road to success — the moments of inspiration, setbacks, collaboration, pivots, and breakthroughs until something new is brought into the world. Regardless of your creative field, there are endless discoveries in each story that could transform the way you approach your own creative practice. Stories from comedian Patton Oswalt, "Wicked" composer Stephen Schwartz, actor & producer Joseph Gordon-Levitt, best-selling author Ann Patchett, "Frozen" composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, Pixar director Domee Shi, and many more.Click Subscribe so you never miss an episode.Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: sparkandfire.comSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Capturing an honest moment is one of the riskiest ways to create, but the results are real, and they stand the test of time. As musician Ben Folds tells the story of creating his breakout album “Whatever and Ever Amen” with the Ben Folds Five, you'll hear a very specific story about a rock band recording an album in a house, instead of a studio, with piano instead of guitar, with lyrics drawn from newspaper clippings. But it’s also a universal story for any creative in any field at any time, about the choices – and pressures – that keep you honest.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/benfolds.Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
The Silk Road Project was an impossibly ambitious, creatively expansive idea to not only create a category of music that had never been heard before, but also create ensembles to perform it, and audiences who were hungry to hear it. How did Yo-Yo Ma build this vision? He knew from the beginning that it wasn’t about him. You'll hear in the episode from Yo-Yo himself and four key players in the ensemble: clarinetist Kinan Azmeh; percussionist Joseph Gramley; Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato; and pipa player Wu Man.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/silkroadSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When you fall in love with a project, stay with it – for as many years as necessary. Its time will come. When screenwriter Allan Scott acquired the film rights to the Walter Tevis novel “The Queen’s Gambit,” he couldn’t have imagined it would take almost 30 years to get that movie made. Allan, along with executive producer Bill Horberg, talk about their long road to turning the cult-favorite book into a Netflix phenomenon; the creative insights (and the key partner) that unblocked the path; and what they’ve learned about staying the course when the world is telling you no.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/QueensGambitSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
“It’s too long. It’s too sad. It’s not danceable.” Just some of the feedback salsa legend Rubén Blades got from DJs and record labels about his iconic song "Pedro Navaja" on the album "Siembra," which went on to sell 25m copies. That’s more than the Beatles' "White Album." And his story of creating this album with Willie Colón is a testament to three words: Trust your instinct. Don’t let anyone throw you off a creative vision you believe in. But also don’t assume that instinct is innate. You hone your instinct through a lifetime of reading, listening, looking, doing. And don’t believe anyone does it alone. Trusted collaborators are always a powerful, sometimes invisible force driving any creative vision, in any field.Congratulations to Ruben for being named "Person of the Year" by the 2021 Latin Grammys!Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/rubenbladesSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
How do you create something an audience will love? Start with everything YOU love. Actor Randall Park ("Veep," "Fresh Off the Boat," "WandaVision"…) tells the story of a passion project that's become a beloved repeat-watch: the 2019 Netflix movie "Always Be My Maybe." It all started as a tossed-off remark by his friend Ali Wong: What if we made a romcom together? As Randall and Ali wrote the movie, they celebrated what mattered to them: family traditions, the food and music they love, even their favorite movie stars. Learn how you can take what authentically matters to you – and create work that will resonate for others too.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/randallparkSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
loading
Comments (16)

rory gehman

Iranian I'm very proud of keyhan kalhor. https://www.krowddarden.net/

Jan 6th
Reply

Javad Shamsi Goushki

Our great musician and the best Kamanche player ever, Dear Kayhan Kalhor. Your in our hearts forever 💕

Dec 29th
Reply

Hank Veal

BTC

Dec 26th
Reply

Nasrin Mirzaee

As an Iranian I'm very proud of keyhan kalhor.

Dec 17th
Reply

Best Zen

😲

Feb 8th
Reply

Okamifan1 Productions

how do I block a show from coming up in my feed 1/10 for shoving it in my face.

Jun 18th
Reply

Rodeŕick Gogal

lifes on peeps, stand and be counted!

Jun 13th
Reply (1)

Tobias Adams

Do Woo

May 25th
Reply

Burhan Lakdawala

Starts at 1:52

May 21st
Reply

Nasir Uddin Betagi

nice speech

May 17th
Reply

Jennifer Thompson

I love you Alex! I've been listening to u since 2014 and the King James Bible speaks what you speak! Thank You!

Jan 27th
Reply

mahan

slm

Jan 9th
Reply

Joshua Builds

This show is a solid 2/10. Just not my cup of tea I suppose.

Jan 7th
Reply (1)

alireza alihosseini

Great!

Dec 24th
Reply
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store