Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Moments of Conception 020 -- The Sales Scene from Walk The Line

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 sales scene in Walk The Line:

What can we learn?

Find something that has magic in it for you. Identity is a luxury item. Due to historical, genetic, environmental and economic variables, not everyone can afford to become who they are. Cash, however, was one of the lucky ones. And I love this scene’s serendipitous juxtaposition of what compels him, aka, watching the recording session, and what constrains him, aka, working as a door to door salesman. These profound moments of contrast happen to creators everyday. In fact, when I started my company out of college, I worked a number of jobs to make ends meet, from waiting tables to selling furniture to parking cars. All of which constrained rather than compelled me. But after few years of accruing a massive debt to my artist, I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I was meant for something better. Something that had magic in it for me. Something that allowed me to do my rightful work in the human family. And eventually, despite the deafening chorus of wagging fingers and raised eyebrows, I rode my creative horse into the sunset. Johnny would have been proud.

Make the word flesh. If you pause the video, you’ll notice the words he scribbles aren’t orders for home equipment, they’re song lyrics. Cash is interested in telling stories, not making sales. What an iconic moment. Think about it. What artist hasn’t snuck away from the mundane duties of their boring day job to squeeze in lyric here or a drawing there? That very experience is where many of our best songs come from. And what’s interesting is, the tune he’s writing is Get Rhythm, a song about a shoeshine boy who uses rhythm to cope with the tedious nature of his job. Get rhythm when you get the blues, it only costs a dime, just a nickel a shoe, it does a million dollars worth of good for you, get rhythm when you get the blues. Sounds like it wad written from personal experience, huh? Cash knew exactly what he was doing. Selling door to door was for the birds. Proving, that just because we hold a day job to pay the bills, doesn’t mean the artistic gland isn’t secreting the entire time. We just have to be smart enough to write down what we feel.

Artists who don’t sell, suffer. Three months and he ain’t sold squat. Bar none, the worst salesman he’d ever seen, says his business partner. But that’s only because he didn’t believe in the merchandise. Johnny was actually a brilliant businessman, he was just peddling the wrong product. Kitchen appliances? Fat chance. But music? Look out. Give that man a guitar and microphone, and he’ll close the sale every time. In fact, considering he had a career that spanned almost five decades, won numerous awards in a variety of categories, recorded tons of hit songs in multiple genres, influenced generations of songwriters and was inducted into three major music halls of fame, I think it’s safe to say he knew how to sell. He just needed the right product. The point is, everybody sells. Everybody. It’s not the easiest or most enjoyable part of the process, but without it, we’re just winking in the dark. Like my mentor used to say, if you’re not there to sell, you’re just a visitor.

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?