My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Zack Drisko to talk about how Not Being Satisfied relates to Ava Snow Battles Death…
My superpower is the ability to not be satisfied. If I do a good job at something, instead of being able to enjoy it, my superpower identifies every single flaw and says, “Try again, dick. Maybe you tricked other people into thinking that you have talent, but you didn’t fool me.”
This power might seem uselessly damaging to my self-esteem, and it often makes me a pain in the ass to be around, but here’s the thing: it pushes me to be better.
Working on my fantasy-adventure digital series Ava Snow Battles Death, my superpower followed me everywhere. Can’t afford to build a set for Ava’s broken-down, water-stained apartment? No problem, I’ll transform my own apartment with joint compound, paint, liquid latex, and tons of internet research. Just work
eight, ten, fourteen hours a day until it’s done.
Oh, I’ve never directed a fight scene before? Fine, that means it’s time to stay up until
midnight, 1am, 3am every night doing shot-by-shot breakdowns of the best fight scenes out there. Time to draw pages upon pages of storyboards and refine them until I see how every frame of the scene will work. Time to recruit a stunt coordinator who worked on The Dark Knight Rises and No Country For Old Men.
And so on. For some people, filmmaking comes easily. They pick up a camera or start typing a script, and it flows out of them. They’re naturals, and to see them create is a study of effortless elegance.
Not me. I don’t make it look easy. I struggle and fight and push. I’ve spent most of my life disliking the things I have made. I don’t regret any of it, though, and I’ll tell you why: because the funny thing about my superpower is that the more I use it, the closer I get to its Kryptonite—doing something of value.
I realized it as I completed the promo clips for the Ava Snow Battles Death series. As we finished our final exports and watched them, I expected my superpower to surge through me—to find flaws, regret decisions. Strangely enough, that didn’t happen.
I was confused. “But this is the part where my brain tells me I failed,” I thought to myself. “This is the part where it taunts and ridicules me for my ham-fisted attempts at self-expression.”
My superpower remained nowhere to be found.
I watched the videos over and over, scanning different parts of the screen, trying to isolate some fault to grab onto. But again, my brain could not find a way to hate the work I had done. In fact, strange as it felt, I seemed to like what I was watching.
“How could this be?” I thought to myself. “Could it be possible that spending all this time struggling to make something good, I finally did?”
I encourage you to judge for yourself, but I think I did. The majority of the credit goes to the outstanding team we have, which includes people who work on Game of Thrones and worked with exceptional talents like David Fincher, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, and Joel and Ethan Coen, but I know that I also have to thank that superpower of mine. That vicious voice inside of my head. Without it, I would have settled long ago for decent. And with it, as painful as it sometimes was, I was able to finally create something that I am proud of.
Zack Drisko lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend Arielle Davidsohn. Together they created Ava Snow Battles Death, a fantasy-action series about a knife-throwing badass named Ava Snow and the overlords from another dimension who want to steal her soul. Zack and Arielle shot as much as they could afford and launched a Kickstarter campaign Oct. 5 to raise the funds to finish the project.