When people ask me why I’m so keen on pulling random people together and breaking down as many barriers as I can I’m always a little taken aback. Then again people also think I’m mad for trying to keep up with all the people I follow on Twitter too. The thing is I have no idea where the next interesting project or idea is coming from. I have certain people in my circle who generate some fascinating concepts and sticking close to them means it’s a safe bet my life won’t get too dull anytime soon. But I’m also interested in the stuff that seemingly comes out of nowhere. The Black Swans if you like.
Like everyone else I have no clue as to where the next one is coming from, but I do know that it’s vital to keep as many routes in and out of my own echo chamber open as possible. My favourite example of the benefits of this is, like all the best stories, perhaps not entirely factually correct.
But it should be.
In 1966 Robert Wise shot a movie called The Sand Pebbles partially in Hong Kong. It’s a movie well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it. Now the story goes that this was the first chance for local stuntmen to see up close how the Hollywood crew put together fight sequences. Wise also left behind the Panavision cameras he’d used there and his Chinese assistants went on to start up their own film companies once the Americans had moved on.
This combination of new ideas, skills and technology lead to a new martial arts boom in the late sixties and early seventies. It lead to Bruce Lee.
Before that Akira Kurosawa was influencing Sergio Leone who in turn gave us Clint Eastwood who gave us Unforgiven. Go back before that and you can pencil in the Westerns of John Ford as one of the main influences on Kurosawa. And if he’d never have made Hidden Fortress I doubt Star Wars would be around today.
So would Uma Thurman have kicked so much ass in Kill Bill if Robert Wise had chosen to film The Sand Pebbles in a more controlled and less risky studio environment thirty seven years earlier?
We’re still experiencing those ripples today and that’s what I love about mixing things up. The potential is huge. Risks, failure and looking foolish are all part of the same game, but pass quickly. Without others taking those risks maybe I’d have never got to see a Jackie Chan movie. Imagine that.
I think risks are worth taking and looking foolish is simply part of being human. The exciting thing is none of us knows how we’ll influence each other in the next 18 months. Ain’t that a kick in the head?