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 candy shop scene in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory:
What can we learn?
influences inspiration. The
creative process is simultaneously mechanical and metaphysical. It’s a function
of toil and time, but there’s also an equal measure of intention and attention.
Charlie wanders around the street, finds a coin in a sewer grate and digs it
out. That’s attention. By introducing it, he created his own opportunity to
play the game. Then, when he walks into the candy shop, he buys a chocolate bar
for his grandpa. Charlie wasn’t trying to win the contest, he was trying to do
something generous for his family. That intention. By introducing it, he
activated the infinite field of correlation. And the combination of the two
changed everything. The lesson, then, is that focusing on a goal changes the
person doing the focusing. It’s similar to the observer effect of quantum physics, which states that the act of
observing a system inevitably alters its state. And so, if an artist expects to
find ideas in her environment, she will cause an improvement in her ability to
spot opportunities when they materialize. But if that same artist lets her
attention and intention slip and slide all over the place, she’ll miss her
moment of conception. Which of your ideas
arrived as responses to attention and intention?
So shines a good deed. In the original candy scene, the crooning shop owner
throws out tons of free candy to all the eager, wealthy children. Meanwhile,
the poorest kid in town can only watch longingly from the window. Now, here’s the
interesting part. Charlie walks into the same candy shop only few weeks later,
hoping to receive the same treatment as the other children. But the moment he
starts stuffing his face with chocolate, the owner clears his throat and holds
out his hand. Almost as if to say, I’m
not running a soup kitchen here. But he’s happy to pay for the treat. Charlie’s
a good kid. This is a fair transaction. Besides, the candy isn’t even for him,
it’s a gift for his grandpa. Meanwhile, a major scandal
breaks out across the globe. Newspapers report that the multimillionaire
gambler actually falsified his winning ticket. He had the nerve to try to fool
the whole world. Which means, the fifth golden ticket was still out there
somewhere. Waiting to be found by the right person. The honest person. The
deserving person. After all, that was the whole point of the contest, we later find
out. It wasn’t a golden ticket, it was a morality test. Wonka needed an honest
child, worthy to be his heir. So shines a good deed in a weary world. How are you branding your honesty?
Work perpendicular. Charlie is devastated when the news
breaks about the final golden ticket being found. The boy has nothing in the
world to hope for now. Of course, his mother reminds him that he’ll get his
chance. That one day, things will change. Probably
when he least expects it. For now, he just needs to keep his dream in view, and pretty soon the sky will clear up. Which doesn’t put the delicious
chocolate bar in his mouth, but it’s start. And that’s the spiritual theme embedded
in this scene. It’s a lesson every artist has to learn. Because in the creative process, sometimes the best way to find something
is to stop looking for it. The best way to accomplish something is to try less.
Taoists would call this concept paradoxical
unity. Which appears vague and esoteric and wholly unsatisfying in its
practical application, but it’s actually a helpful approach in becoming
prolific. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes the best strategy is to work perpendicular. To intentionally walk away from our current work and engage in
something unrelated to the flow of activity. Charlie did just that. He went out for a
walk and found exactly what he has stopped looking for. Which of your ideas have come when you least expected them?
What did you learn?
* * * *
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.
Now booking for 2014-2015.
Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!