Believing in our own vision is a powerful thing. Napoleon Hill said, "No one is ready for a thing until he believes he can acquire it." But a solitary approach to pursuing that vision can be not just lonely, but counterproductive.
What happens when our vision gets blocked by circumstance and we believe we're stuck, unable to proceed?
During the filming of Rushmore, one of my "desert island" films, Wes Anderson wanted a scene in which two of his characters, Max (Jason Schwartzman) and Mr. Blume (Bill Murray) riding in a helicopter. Disney, the film's financial backer, turned them down cold, refusing to add money to cover the expense.
Wes got bogged down, believing that his vision couldn't proceed without that shot.
A Gentle Leader
This was only Wes's second film, and he was so intimidated to be working with one of his heroes, Bill Murray, that he would whisper his directions to the older actor out of fear that Murray would shoot him down.
Murray, in fact, had been approached by his agent directly, who had given him a copy of the young director's first film, Bottle Rocket to watch. Bill then read the script for Rushmore, liked it so much that he agreed to work for scale, the equivalent of an actor's minimum wage.
He believed in the vision.
In reality, on set, Murray always deferred to the director, accepting his leadership and his vision. He even hauled equipment around with the crew.
One simple Act
Now, put yourself in Wes's place for a moment. You're all alone, directing your second film, and the first with a major studio backing it. There's something you believe in your gut that you need to do, but the ones with the power, the ones with the purse-strings are telling you, "No way."
You're despondent. You've spent days now trying to think your way around this dilemma. Meanwhile, your cast and crew are growing restless as work has ground to a halt. No one is filming, no one is doing anything.
Then Bill Murray himself walks up to you. In his hand is a slip of paper. He hands it to you. It's a signed check made out to you.
The amount is blank1.
He asks you, simply, "Can we finish the movie now?"
If you watch Rushmore, you might be surprised to note that there is no helicopter scene in the film. I've heard that the check has been framed and hangs on a wall above Anderson's computer as a reminder to him that others believe. He's not alone in his vision. He has a team.
1Giles, Jeff (December 7, 1998). "A Real Buddy Picture". Newsweek: pp. 72. Images screen captured from Rushmore, use here constitutes Fair Use.
How about it? Are you buoyed by the kindness of your team? Can you provide that one moment of support to another? Tell us about it in a comment below!