Monday, July 07, 2014

Moments of Conception 043 -- The Weed Scene from Half Baked

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 supply scene in Half Baked:

What can we learn?

Nurture a landscape of opportunity. Thurgood literally sniffs out an opportunity. Which may come off as juvenile and cartoonish, but it’s not completely unrealistic. Highly prolific individuals really do follow their noses. When new ideas announce themselves, plastering posters on brick walls of their brains, these people intuit what wants to be created. It’s active listening at its most mystical. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always had a strong opportunity agenda. When I was eleven, I converted our front lawn into a parking lot for fans of a nearby golf tournament. When I was fifteen, I taped skin flicks from the adult channel and rented copies to the football players. And when I was nineteen, I recorded music in my basement and gave the albums to girls I liked. The point is, each of these adolescent enterprises started as an opportunity I sniffed out. Some ventures were more profitable than others. Some ventures were more work than others. Some ventures were more legal than others. But looking back, the real benefit of those business experiences was the strengthening of my opportunity muscle. And that’s an asset that pays massive dividends in any creative career. What opportunities are you sniffing out?

Always keep kindling handy. Thurgood’s chance encounter with the supply department symbolizes the first phase of the creative process. Inhaling. Pardon the pun, but it’s impossible to be prolific without it. Because your job is as a creator and communicator of ideas process a unique confluence of raw materials into your system. To keep production going in the the idea factory of your mind. I’m reminded of a recent cartooning documentary, in which one of the writers discussed his inhaling process. He said that when he starts having trouble writing, he can usually trace to not having read enough. My experience as a songwriter is similar. And so, I always keep kindling handy. Not a pound of ganja, but a playlist of inspiring music that reconnects me to my original enthusiasm and refuels my artistic energy reserve. That’s how I inhale. Everything becomes another ingredient in one, big, boiling pot of inputs. Pun absolutely intended. What is today’s creative opportunity?

Opportunity is subordinate to wherewithal. Obama famously said that opportunity is who we are. That the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise, and that no one is better positioned to take advantage of those opportunities than us. I couldn’t agree more. The challenge, though, is that opportunity isn’t the only variable. There’s a larger creative equation at work that centers around the idea of wherewithal, meaning everything needed to buttress opportunity, including knowledge, resources and courage. Because even though creating art is work, creating the opportunity to make art is work too. It’s a much more strategic, measured and entrepreneurial type of work. But it’s work nonetheless. When I first moved to a major metropolitan city, I started busking in the park with my guitar. Not an activity I ever anticipated doing, but it created an opportunity make art, from songs to performances to a documentary film. The point is, we get our start by giving ourselves a start. That’s where opportunity grows. What is the opportunity is going to pass you buy if you don’t act on it?

What is your favorite movie moment of conception?