Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Elizabeth Bell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Payne, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Donileen Loseke, Ph.D.


Communication, Myth, History, Metaphor, Organization


Current creativity research is dominated by attention to the individual, with increasingly less attention paid to creativity in its context, in groups, and in filmmaking as a collaboratively creative enterprise. This study answers the research call to explore filmmaking as an exemplar for collaborative creativity. Utilizing the stories told on DVD extras on special edition releases of feature films, this study analyzes how collaborative creativity is storied. In turn, these stories reveal specific communication forms, practices, and strategies that enrich theoretical conceptions of collaborative creativity. Following dramatistic concepts elaborated by Kenneth Burke, this rhetorical analysis finds three emergent patterns of communication--mythic, historic, and symbolic--in the discourses of making-of-documentaries (MODs) that illuminate collaborative creativity.

As mythic patterns, MODs utilize the structure of the quest tale to organize the plot, drama, and rhetoric of collaborative creativity told in MODs. Audiences, then, are invited to re-experience the journey, and every MOD symbolically and ritually repeats and re-actualizes the cosmogony. As historic patterns, filmmakers converse in history with filmmaking predecessors, traditional industry practices, and present collaborators. Through their various roles as fans, critics, and memorialists, filmmakers renovate and commemorate film history, offering creativity theory criteria by which novelty is evaluated. As symbolic patterns, MOD discourse spotlights the metaphors filmmakers use to create collaborative environments and to characterize directors' performances. Together these metaphors create a guiding and habitable ideology for production work that improves upon "vision" as one guiding metaphor for creativity.

This analysis enriches theoretical accounts of creativity by approaching collaborative creativity obliquely, as space-off, and rhetorically, as inducements to success stories in organizations. Taking communication as central to collaborative creativity, this study offers three counter-statements to traditional conceptions of creativity: creativity is shared, not possessed; collaborative creativity emerges within human drama; and collaborative creativity lives and finds its meaning in performance.