Thursday, July 10, 2014

Moments of Conception 046 -- The Orson Welles Scene from Ed Wood

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 bar scene in Ed Wood:




What can we learn?


Kindred spirits will find each other. Wood is a broke, eccentric, inexperienced, stock footage using, blindly optimistic, cross dressing filmmaker. In fact, he’s on a career path to become the worst movie director of all time. But nobody can deny, the man has vision. And that’s what makes this serendipitous encounter with his childhood hero all the more poignant. Welles is a beloved, larger than life, world famous alpha male creative genius with credits in theater, radio and film. He’s quite possibly the polar opposite of his young admirer. And yet, the two men discover they have a shorthand for a shared culture. Both are outsiders to the studio system. Both struggle for creative control. Both have a unique artistic vision. They’re kindred spirits. How many of those do you have? Because prophecy is a lonely business. Next time you find yourself precariously balanced on your sanity ledge, reach for the likehearted. Heal your soul through the balm of we. Reach out and cocreate. Because art without witness, isn’t. Are diversifying your creative reservoir trough the regularity of human bonding?

Visions are worth fighting for. Orson says his last film was the one project where he had total control. Where the studio couldn’t touch a frame. Which is interesting, considering that film was ultimately considered by many critics, colleagues and fans to be the greatest movie ever made. Orson was right. Visions really are worth fighting for. Life’s too short to play in a cover band. If you want a make a name for yourself, you have to make your own music. Besides, why sacrifice your life being everybody else’s dream machine? Why acquiesce to the assholes who don’t get the joke anyway? Just be wildly selfish. Do it for you. The purpose of creation, after all, is liberation. To make something to call your own. To have a body of work you can point to. To build something nobody can take away from me. Selfishness isn’t just your right, it’s your responsibility. Like my mentor used to tell me, if you’re making art for anybody other than yourself, you’re in for a world of disappointment. Do you have the courage to bet on your vision?

Stand on the foundation of your rarity. Ed has seen god. Orson’s advice left him a changed man. Reenergized, confident, beaming and triumphant, he marches back to the studio and demands to do it his way. So they do. And when the movie debuts, he knows it will become the film he’s remembered for. What’s interesting is, while Ed Wood did poorly at the box office when it premiered, it still received mass critical acclaim. In fact, twenty years later, the movie maintains a massive cult following. And so, the movie about the man was received in the same vein as the man himself. Wood may have been dubbed the worst movie director of all time, but he also accumulated an enormous body of work, had a huge impact on pop culture, was the topic of a number of documentaries, he even inspired a legally recognized religion naming him as its official savior. They refer to him as the patron saint of late night movie hosts and insomniacs. That’s one hell of a legacy. And it’s a beautiful reminder that it’s impossible to fail at self expression. That nobody can criticize a life that belongs to you. Because if you’re just being yourself, nobody can tell you that you’re doing it wrong. If you let your inner voice dictate the shape of your art, what price will you pay in a world that punishes authenticity?

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?