I have just returned from quite an incredible trip- you’ll hear more about it. Over the past month I traveled through Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Philippines with my wife, Sweet Joy. The primary reason for the trip was me speaking at an innovation conference in Melbourne, a diversity conference in Auckland and a few other places, both excellent. We also managed to pursue all kinds of research in a number of different areas and just have an amazing time.
Now, I am a massive fan of the Lord of the Rings movies and could not pass up to go on a couple of tours while on the South Island in New Zealand. The guides were quite knowledgeable and could talk a lot about the creative process that went into the various scenes and one of those scenes really stood out to me as an excellent example of the power of limitations to force cool, creative ideas.
There is a scene in The Two Towers where Legolas has just fired arrows towards attacking orcs mounted on wargs (wolf-like creatures). As the Aragorn-and-king-Theoden posse follows on horseback, the elf manages to grab a hold of the reins on one of the horses and swings himself up into the saddle in an incredible and insanely graceful maneuver. And these stunning acrobatics happens in passing, the camera barely focuses on it. Each time I saw this scene in the movie theater (ehhhmm… 4 times) you could hear a chorus of amazed gasps in the audience.
Turns out the scene was not planned. Here is what happened: Peter Jackson had filmed Orlando Bloom, who played Legolas, shooting the arrows, and then riding away. Unfortunately they could not get the footage of him getting on the horse because Bloom managed to break a couple of ribs. While editing the movie they realized that they had no footage of him getting on the horse which presented a big problem. They had few options and had to come up with something different. And that’s when they thought of this amazing scene. It was done with computer graphics and looked like a million bucks.
Interestingly the audience reaction led Jackson to want a “Leggy-moment” in Return of the King and he created a huge scene where the elf single-handedly climbs an Oliphant, kills it and then surfs down the trunk. It’s not a bad scene, but it is very predictable. And it is the result of working with a lot of resources to come up something cool. So what is the lesson here?
Are you trying to come up with something fascinating? Imagine doing this: cut your perceived options, cut your budget, cut your time, cut your resources, cut everything. And then work hard - very, very hard - to come up with some type of solution. Your ideas will be different, and with some luck, insanely creative.
Oh – and this is me, at the exact location, posing as… well….you’ll figure it out…