Monday, June 02, 2014

Moments of Conception 011 -- The Skate Punk Scene from High Fidelity

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.

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 skater scene in High Fidelity:

So, what did they do right?

Know those in the know. The skate punks stole, of all things, a tattered old book from the bargain box on home recording. And what’s interesting is, if you read the original screenplay, the characters actually have a short conversation on the physical process of recording an album. Rob, always the underappreciated expert, tells the skate punks exactly how to do it. Make the tracks. Deliver them to the pressing plant. Cut a master. Dub the submasters. Press the records. Design your cover art. That’s it. Unfortunately, that conversation was cut out of the final version of the movie. Too bad. Because at the time of the film’s release, home recording hadn’t been democratized by the digital revolution yet. Making your own album was still a mystery to most. And so, back then, if you were lucky enough to encounter someone who had a grasp of the process, along with the resources to execute it, you stayed close. Just like Vincent and Justin. Had the skate punks never loitered and looted, they never would have gotten their big break.
Mentorship is an inheritance. Rob’s face is priceless. The moment we hear Justin and Vincent’s music for the first time, their whole skate punk culture comes out barefoot. We don’t just hear their instruments, we hear their intentions. And that closes the loop on the shoplifting incident. They weren’t stealing obscure imported punk records for fun, they were for inspiration. Justin and Vincent may have been a couple of underage criminals causing trouble, but they were also a couple of budding musicians demonstrating initiative and promise. Yes, they broke the law, but only to break into the music business. How punk rock of them. And so, for the first time in the movie, Rob realizes he was wrong about someone. Perhaps image doesn’t necessarily preclude taste. Perhaps youth isn’t always a liability. Turns out, the skate punks embodied an indie spirit in which Rob saw a reflection of himself. So he took action on his intuitive lead and signed them to his record label.

Originality is your only currency. Rob’s couldn’t believe his ears. As much as he loathed those two skate punks, he had to admit, their music was really good. They were rough, but they were original. They were business crippling nazi youth shoplifters, but they developed a sound that was their own. And considering their influences, aka, the obscure foreign music they stole from the record store, it’s no surprise. Justin and Vincent created a unique, unreplicatable inspiration pool. They built a lexicon for what set their hearts on fire. And they earned the currency of originality. Barry, on the other hand, despite his vast knowledge of music history, never earned Rob’s attention as an innovator. He was a hacksimile who created derivative, unimaginative work. And because he never wrote all those pseudo impressions out of his system, he couldn’t compete in clear air. Proving, that there are no cover bands in the rock and roll hall of fame. If you want to make a name for yourself, you have to make your own music.

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?