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 scene in Rango:
What can we learn?
Filling in the
identity lines.This movie is terrifically clever, but it’s also a powerful
meditation on identity. Rango is a chameleon, both literally and figuratively. With
a little mimicry, bravado and improvisation, he presents himself as tough
drifter who will blow the ugly right off your face. And the townsfolk believe
him. They have no idea he comes from a domestic terrarium. Rango is a blank sheet
of paper, in his minds and theirs. And this scene is him filling in the lines.
We’re witnessing theconceptual beginning of a man’s identity. Rango’s history and
beliefs areawakening in him. His narrative is beginning to assume a
definite form. And his personalmythology is burning itself into people’s brains.If you’re
an artist, there were probably moments just like that your career. Starting
from scratch. Filling in the identity lines. Consciously deciding who you’re
going to be. It’s an exhilarating
experience. Especially since most of the world isn’t lucky enough to become who
they are.What where the sudden but seismic
shifts in your sensibility and persona that became foundational in your work?
We each see what we
need to see. Dirt is a town of deep faith. A loyal, tightly knit community
who needs something to believe in. Rango, on the other hand, is a loner and a complete
fraud. He’s not even supposed to be there. But as the spirit of the west
advised him, no man can walk out on his
own story. And so, he doesn’t have a choice. Rango raised his hand. He became
the hero they were looking for and. And from this point on, that’s who he is.
If you’re a veteran creator, this lesson is particularly useful. Because over
the long arc of an artist’s career, people often take detours off their main
line that they’re not initially thrilled with. But that doesn’t mean the
experience isn’t worthwhile. Creative people must always allow for the
possibility that new meaning will arise in unexpected places. As my mentor once
told me, when you think you know your destination, you’re on the
wrong path. Are you willing to lean into
a different future?
Mighty oaks from tiny
acorns grow. Rango’s entire future was predicated on something he read on a
bottle of cactus juice. That seemingly innocuous detail was the divergence that
resulted in a significantly different outcome. It’s chaos theory at its finest. Sensitive dependence. Initial
conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear
system can result in large differences in a later state. Sound like quantum
physics? You’re right. But it also sounds like the creative process. Because
the obligation of an artist is to always be on the lookout for that divergence.
That tiny detail that triggers a whole
world. Every creative person has their version of it. Fifteen years ago, I
decided to put on a nametag. And out of that moment, I built a brand, a
business and an entire career. That was my first experience chaos theory. But
what’s interesting is, now I notice those innocuous details everywhere. To me,
everything is a nametag. Everything is a bottle of cactus juice that could
change everything. What do you see when
you see people?
* * * *
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!