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 singing scene scene in Saving Mrs. Banks:
What can we learn?
Ideas are riders and need a horse to get to us. Travers is a financially struggling author with deep disdain for animated movies. She’s proper, formal, conservative, and her novel’s main character is enemy of sentiment and whimsy who doesn’t sugar coat the darkness in the world. As she says early in the movie, what horrors have you in store for my beautiful characters today? Tough crowd. Good luck pulling an idea out of that cranky, stubborn dame. Disney, on the other hand, the ultimate symbol of magic, the paragon of innocence and joy, has been courting her for twenty hears. He’s not giving up in his quest to acquire the film rights to her novels. You have to appreciate that kind of persistence. But it’s a reminder that creativity is a negotiation. A conversation between art and artist. A battle between resistance and expression. And it’s an exchange that requires a certain amount of coaxing. Because matter how swiftly and frequently inspiration shows up, many of our best ideas need to be massaged into shape. How will you prevent your ideas from getting steamrolled?
Inhibition is an endangered species. Travers is attempting collaboration with the creative team, but has become increasingly disengaged. The work is bringing up too many painful childhood memories. But somehow, the music composers soften her. The song reawakens her imagination and enthusiastically engages her. Pamela’s body language says it all. First, she raises an eyebrow. The involuntary indicator of interest, intrigue and curiosity. Next, she taps her foot. The basic tool for keeping time and connecting with rhythm. Finally, she starts waltzing, laughing and singing. The mark of a fully engaged audience member. This scene is a perfect illustration of what happens when an artist tastes the sweet nectar of pure creation. When someone feels what it feels like to have no creative restrictions. To be, as the song says, where the air is clear. Because even if that happens for only a moment, it’s amazing what kinds of creative doors start to open up. Travers isn’t singing a song, she’s signing a permission slip. She’s giving herself the freedom to live a life that isn’t dictated by her history. Are you allowing the pain from the past to numb the pleasure of the present?
Align yourself with the flow of process. Travers didn’t believe a film version of her books would do justice to her creation. Little did she know, the movie would receive widespread critical acclaim, win tons of awards, inspire a long running musical, even break the world record for the world’s largest umbrella mosaic. That’s the beauty of creativity. You have an idea for a treehouse and end up building a skyscraper. Woops. But isn’t that what makes life worth living? The surprises. The unintentionals. The strange evolutions that turn seeds into forests. Isn’t that why you get into the idea business in the first place? Because you never know. All you can do is trust the creative process. All you can do is let go, allow your work to lead you and to believe in the dividends. Besides, the juicy stuff almost always happens in unoccupied channels. Travers never could have dreamed her books would have such a wide impact on modern culture. But had she never said yes to the mouse, none of that would have happened. What was your resurrection opportunity?
What did you learn?
* * * *Scott GinsbergThat Guy with the NametagAuthor. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.
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