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 taxi scene in Fame:
What can we learn?
Don’t chase the high, follow the heart. During a recent podcast interview, I heard a hugely successful actor offer a great piece of advice to young performers. Don’t be famous, be legendary. Fame is the industrial disease of creativity, he said. It’s a sludgy by product if making things. That's a bold statement. Considering we live in a world where attention trumps accomplishment, where a person’s fame tends to eclipse their actual contributions as a creator, his advice is sorely needed. And yet, that doesn’t give us permission to hide from the world. If we insist on keeping our music locked up inside ourselves, we’ll always be winking in the dark. There’s a balance. That’s the theme in this movie. Not just fame, but shame. The crippling fear of creative vulnerability. The willingness to stick yourself out there, quite literally, even if that means dancing with your friends down a crowded avenue. Because even know the father and son constantly argue over the boy’s reluctance to play his music publicly, the kid’s gotta learn to love what’s good for him eventually. That’s the only way to become legendary. How time did you spend working on your legacy today
Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. This scene represents the herald in the hero’s journey. The act to signal change. The moment that invite the character to answer the call to adventure and motivate into action, despite his frequent desire to maintain the status quo. Bruno resists, though. He complains that his tapes aren’t ready yet. That they’re not supposed to be played. But his father is right. Look at the people. They don’t know it’s not ready. They like it. Is he really going to try and argue with a dancing mob of teenagers the middle of the busiest street in the nation? Do the math, kid. And that’s what I love about the creative process. You’re never really ready. If you always waited until you were ready, you’d never produce anything. Just aim for eighty percent and jump. You’re the only one sweating over the twenty. The point is, whether you’re writing dance music, making abstract paintings or hosting your own cooking show, finished is better than perfect. Failure stems less from poor planning and more from the timidity to proceed. Don’t make gods out of your plans. Just go. What inner conflict is slowing your creativity down?
All love is saying yes to something. Bruno was right, that lunatic stole his tape. But it’s still the best thing that could have happened to his career as a musician. He doesn’t know it yet, but the whole course of his life will pivot on this encounter. People will remember his name. And in five years, he’s going to look back and think to himself, boy am I glad that my dad blasted that song from the roof of his car. In fact, every artist should be lucky enough to have a parent like that. Relentlessly affirming, instantly encouraging, endlessly participating, radically accepting. That’s the kind of support system that makes or breaks an artist. This scene actually reminds me of my own family. Growing up, we seven grandchildren were never met with tilted heads. Whatever artistic endeavors we pursued, whatever magnificent obsessions we turned our brains over to, there wasn’t an elder in the room who wasn’t on board at a moment’s notice. And that’s the reason each of us went on to have unique and interesting and meaningful creative lives. What are the characteristics of the most supportive possible environment you can think of for your own creative work?
What did you learn?
* * * *
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
Now booking for 2014-2015.
Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!