Saturday, July 05, 2014

Moments of Conception 041 -- The Strike Scene from Kingpin

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 bowling scene in Kingpin:

What can we learn?

Wax on, wax off. Behind every heroic artist is a helpful mentor. The one who gives you the courage to begin your quest. The one who returns you to the path when you stray. The one who strengthens you when you weaken. And the one who commends you when you prosper. Show me your mentors and I’ll show you who you are, as I like to say. The hard part is, you can’t will this person into existence. Mentors are like inspiration, they come unannounced. They appear when the student is ready. Ishmael never could have anticipated this chance encounter with a famous bowling prodigy. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time playing the right game in front of the right audience. A great reminder that timing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. What’s more, he made himself mentorable. Ishmael could have easily shrugged off the stranger’s advice and gone back to rolling a respectable game. But he welcomed his suggestion, implemented the change on the fly and saw immediate results. Little did he know, his life would never the same again. What is it about you that will allow great mentoring to happen?

Activate your internal generators. Every artist has a unique set of intrinsic triggers. Inputs that stoke the creative fire. Little moments that freeze time and give us the opportunity to clothespin a piece of stimuli onto our psyche for further evaluation. Roy’s trigger is the sound of a strike. That satisfying crack, that familiar explosion, that crisp reverberation, that unmistakable crunch, it makes his heart quiver with happiness. To him, a strike is the sound of home. Home in the literal sense of his childhood, but also home in the existential sense of his creativity. That’s why, almost instinctively, he leaps out of the barstool and follows the sound to its source. Because he knows on the other end of that polished wooden rainbow is a pot of gold. And so, it’s a powerful lesson about the artist’s perceptual landscape. The importance of never turning a deaf ear to nature. The necessity of humble inquiry. And the value of meticulous attendance to inspiring stimuli. What intrinsic triggers stoke your creative fire?  

We see what we need to see. Munsen’s filter is the sound of strike. That’s the tiny detail that triggers a whole world. The central moment that instantly sizes any bowler up. Show me your strikes and I’ll show you who you are, he might say. The strike, then, is an inkblot test. A shortcut to understanding. And the interesting thing is, everyone has their own version of it. I’ve been wearing a nametag for over five thousand consecutive days. That’s mine. It’s a small, repeatable and portable filter that helps me make sense of the people I meet quickly and accurately. Based on how someone responds to my nametag, I know everything I need to know about them. Period. Now, if that sounds like a form of black and white thinking, you’re right. It is. But in the creative process, thinking in absolutes can actually be quite useful. Absolutes can become the constraints that catapult your ideas. That’s the beauty of the finite world. No room for excuses. Seinfeld once said that he could tell everything about someone based on two things. How they drive cars and how they drink coffee. What’s your inkblot test?

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?