Monday, May 12, 2014

Moments of Conception 001: The Rooftop Scene from Coyote Ugly

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

I’m reminded of an interesting interview with Rob Bell, the renowned author, pastor and filmmaker. He was asked about the creative process of his first bestseller, Velvet Elvis, which launched his career as one of the great mass communicators of the last decade. Rob told this story about the driving force of his creative projects:

“There’s usually some moment, like the moment of conception. There’s a distinct aha and then quickly a number of other disparate things, that have nothing to do with it all of the sudden, have something to do with it. It’s like, boom, and then story, story, story, story, quote, statistic, newspaper article, story, insight, truth. And now there are six things on that page, and I don’t even know what they all have to do with each other. But I know they all have to do with that one fundamental insight. Everything just grows from there.”

That’s our job as collectors, creators and communicators of ideas. Developing the habit of recognizing beginnings. Believing that every moment of conception has an engine, a spark, an energy source and a pulse that all the other ideas hum with and grow from and move around and work off of.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s case study comes from the rooftop scene of Coyote Ugly:

So, what does she do right?

1. She physically displaces herself. Violet’s ratty old apartment has paper thin walls. In the scene before this one, when she tries to play music indoors, her next door neighbors yell at her to stop. That’s why she resigns to the rooftop to rehearse. And as a result, the change of scenery serves the process. It alters her routines and patterns, which stimulates creativity. It forces her out of her physical comfort zone, which literally gives her new perspective. And it provides her with a purposeful and private songwriting sanctuary, free of the existential torrents and demands of life, where she can reconnect to herself.

2. She stops resisting and starts investigating. Violet honors the unintentional music from her uninvited collaborator. Rather than ignoring or eradicating the dancer’s song, she loves and accepts it. She makes herself entirely open and vulnerable to every shred of stimuli that crosses her path. Instead of seeing disturbing or unwanted sounds as resistance to her creativity, she transforms the distraction into a thing of beauty. The competing artist’s becomes a bell of awareness, not a threat to her work.

3. She steals properly. Violet has a well toned thievery muscle. Although the hip hop song has a completely different tempo, genre and attitude than her singer songwriter acoustic pop stylings, it doesn’t stop her from merging with the dancer. That guy’s song is fair game. It’s hers for the plucking. And so, she superimposes her own meaning onto his story. She makes it her own. She turns a seed into a forest. And thanks to her dancing neighbor, she ends somewhere else, somewhere different, somewhere better.

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?