I had to create a newTV soap. I'd neverdone anything likethat before. Iwasan artist, a painter, yet here Ifound myself,
standing in front of thirty TV professionals. They were look
ing at me impatiently and expectantly.
I didn't know what I was in for when I accepted the job.
The Dubai TV station had asked me to deliver creative
workshops that I had developed for my students at
Central Saint Martins. CSM made them available to a
wider audience. The TV station flew me to Dubai and
showered me with luxury: a room in the Dubai Hilton, a
driver and limo, expenses, the works. I felt obligated to
them and had prepared thoroughly. I didn't want to go
all that way and discover I'd left out something
They had rented a conference room in a five-star hotel for
me to deliver my workshop. As I was led in to meet the
production team, the manager turned to meand said, 'Oh,
bythe way, instead of the workshops, we'd like you to help
us create a new soap based in Dubai.' It was a bombshell.
Mypreparation was wasted.
I stood in front of the eager production team. The room
oozed wealth and opulence; embroidered tablecloths,
ornate chairs and hi-tech screens everywhere. I felt ill at
ease. I was used to art studios with paint spatters on the
walls, barefloors and a placewhereyoucouldmakemistakes
with freedom. Igavea short talk about myself; in reality Iwas
stalling for time, trying to work out what to do. I knew I
couldn't produce anything creative in the room, yet they'd
spent a fortune on it. I'd have to disrupt it. To the dismay of
the hotel staff, I made them move all the tables and chairs
out. I didn't want everyone sitting down feeling relaxed.
With the room empty, Ifelt better. Itwas like a blank canvas
to an artist or blank sheet of paper to a writer. They all
looked irritated, though.
The TV station were struggling to create a new soapopera
because their ideas were predictable and dull. They
wanted me to resurrect them. I said it would be easier to
scrap their ideas and start fresh. Better to think new ideas
than waste time trying to salvage old ones. They were
annoyed by this.