Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moments of Conception 085 -- The Focus Scene from Deconstructing Harry

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 focus scene in Deconstructing Harry:

What can we learn?

Your personal pause buttons. When the quality and frequency of your thoughts determines your livelihood, panic is always right around the corner. The life of the mind may be a dazzling and voluptuous operation, but it’s also a territory for which there is no roadmap. And if you don’t have a personal, portable toolbox for reducing the experience of anxiety on a moment’s notice, you can end up overdosing on yourself. Harry feels like a blob and a blur, just like one of his fictional characters. His brain burns with the color of anxiety. And yet, the more he tries to calm himself down, the deeper he descends into an infinite loop of neurotic hell. Cookie, aptly named, knows exactly how to nourish her friend back to life. She has an armory of anxiety reduction strategies to talk him down, including drinking tea, eating snacks, holding hands, making jokes, telling stories, talking about sports, taking deep breaths, all of which help reassure, relax and restore him back into focus. If more of us had a toolbox like that at our disposal, panic would come and go like a revolving door. What are you willing to try to heal yourself?

Another game of blame roulette. When a subject starts to become fuzzy and soft and blurry, the default response is to blame the junky camera. Or the dirty lens. Or the inclement weather. That’s the human instinct. We externalize blame. We expect the world to adjust to the distortion we’ve become. We artfully find all the ways everybody else was wrong, which makes you innocent through process of elimination. When the reality is, we are the one that need sharpening. We are the one making ourselves blurry. Which is both the profit and the peril of being a professional creator. Since we’re the only ones here, should we fail to discipline ourselves, fall short on our goals or ship mediocre work when we know we could do better, there’s no assistant to hide behind, no intern to scapegoat and no coworker to blame. Technically, it should be our fault and ours alone. Then again, who’s going to find out? If we don’t take the blame, it not like there’s a boss or a supervisor or a manager standing over our desk, breathing down our necks. It’s almost like our own private version of the honor system. We have to find ways to make the fuzziness our fault. Are you building the emotional muscle of ownership along your creative journey?

We are connoisseurs of chaos. Anxiety makes true creativity possible. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need to make art. And so, we acknowledge and accept that inner turbulence is part of the process. We give thanks for our psychological stirrings. But we also understand that the discipline of creating while anxious is essential to our success. That our sense of interior stability is what allows our work to thrive. Harry can’t keep his peace from being stolen away by anxiety thieves, so he drinks and pops pills. Which certainly helps him return to homeostasis in the short term, but ultimately, it’s a losing system. Because when creators give themselves a crutch they don’t need, they develop a limp they shouldn’t have. And so, what each artist needs is to develop an early warning system. A personal seismograph that helps them take preemptive action against impending inner turmoil, without the aid of outside influences. Because unfortunately, there won’t always be a prostitute on the couch, standing by to give us a pep talk off our ledge of anxiety. Calmness is on us. What positive coping mechanisms do you regularly use to lower your stress level?

What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

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Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!