Sunday, May 25, 2014

Moments of Conception 007 -- The Hospital Scene from The Rainmaker

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.

Jolie Holland once said that the creative process was like you're walking around eating poetry and then you throw up a song at the end.

Because wherever you look, there's something to see. Your mind trains itself to have a very sensitive radar, which tees up a part of your awareness to be more focused on potential value. And by acting as if there might be value, suddenly, it feels like the world has arranged itself for your work. This allows ideas to just fall out of you, since you now have the frame.

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 clip comes from the hospital scene of The Rainmaker:

So, what did they do right?

Every creator needs a good low. Rudy finds himself on the verge of bankruptcy, living out of his car, working out of a hospital cafeteria, reduced to the corrupt world of ambulance chasing and fighting against a competing firm of experienced and devious lawyers who would stop at nothing to crush him. Talk about necessity being the mother of invention. Rudy’s situation forces him to marshal his creative resources and persist in the face of incredible odds. But this isn’t uncommon for most creative professional. I remember watching this movie when I first started my publishing business. At the time, my life situation was in desperate need of a change. I was making zero money and still living with my parents. Interestingly, this very scene inspired me to start taking my laptop to the neighborhood grocery store to put in a few extra hours of work on the weeknights. The environment was perfect. The store had a twenty four hour cafĂ© with free wifi, tons of great signs, snacks and smells, and plenty of interesting people to interact with. I even wrote a popular article about my experience. Proving, that creativity doesn’t just come from getting high, it comes from getting low. Lesson learned, next time life hands you a pile of shit, try to grow something.

Go fishing for inspiration. Rudy could have studied for the bar exam anywhere. But his mentor helped him understand that best way to increase the probability of success was by putting yourself in the way of it. To find your pool of prospects and start swimming there regularly. Of course, this is useful advice for rainmakers of any professional services firms. But it’s also an intelligent strategy for collectors, creators and communicators of ideas. Inspiration, after all, isn’t something you find, it’s something you beguile. And part of that creative process is being strategic about your physical surroundings. Because the exciting part is, when you put yourself in the way of finding what you seek, you often discover more and better than what you sought. Rudy was merely hoping to sign up a few new prospects for his personal injury practice. But through the magic of proximity and serendipity, he encountered Kelly, who kicked open the door to the world of civil litigation. Rudy caught a bigger, truer and more beautiful fish than he ever anticipated. All because he showed up at the right pond every night.

Those who lose their virginity, win. Rudy, fresh out of law school, naively believes criminals are entitled to a defense and have a right to their day in court. But when he encounters Kelly, the battered wife whose husband savagely attacked her with baseball bat to the point of hospitalization, his perspective starts to shift. Not because he read some hypothetical case study in a textbook, but because he sat down with a devastated soul in hospital cafeteria on a dark night and listened to a real story from a real person. In this moment, Rudy loses his professional virginity. He enters into a new level of awareness and maturity about himself and the world in which he lives. Yes, it’s the end of innocence, but it’s also the beginning of opportunity. This crucial conversation sends his character on a trajectory, one that ultimately allows him to win his one and only case as a trial lawyer. And after that experience, Rudy abandons his law practice and pursues a teaching career with a focus on ethical legal behavior. Interesting, considering he initially imagined spending his days in a courtroom. Perhaps creative careers come with their own agenda.

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?