I know that by now the effort of peering over your engorged belly, bloated with Xmas indulgence, to a screen containing my newsletter must seem like a Herculean effort. If you can manage it, however, you will find your usual Xmas reward from me at the conclusion of this missive. Just a wafer-thin after dinner mint, of sorts.
You can switch off now, of course. Recline with slovenly abandon into the nearest receptacle softer than you, and click on the telly. That's what I've been doing, when not breaking bread with an assortment of relatives. I formed the last drop of 2015 thought to share with you this way.
It's about being a nuanced recalcitrant.
That may seem like an odd suggestion, in the face of an ever homogenized mass media landscape. Hell, I even donated my hard won pennies to our corporate media overlords at the Disney Corporation, for the pleasure of watching 'Star Wars VII: The Franchise Awakens'.
But it was not until I was slumped into a chair, ruing the mountain of fried foods, meats, and sweets I had recently devoured, that the true Disney story was actually illuminated. I wish I could tell you it was part of some ghost triage 'Scroogian' awakening that I experienced, but the truth is I came across a documentary by channel-surfing, while coming down from saturated fats. Modern life.
What the documentary illuminated, however, was stunning: Walt Disney was mostly a failure, until he wasn't.
In the early 1920's, Disney owned and ran his first animation business, 'Laugh-O-Gram' studios, with collaborator Ubbe Iwerks...into the ground. Within a year, Disney's fledgling studio was bankrupt and saddled with insurmountable debt.
Looking for a fresh start, Walt and his brother Roy relocated to Hollywood, giving birth to The Disney Brother's Studio. With Roy managing the business affairs, this endeavor was more successful, even creating the popular 'Oswald the Lucky Rabbit' cartoons.
But oh, the fickle temper of success.
Riding the crest of the 'Oswald' success, Disney was blinded to the rug that was being swiftly pulled from under him. A key financial partner used legal technicalities to assume control over the 'Oswald' character, and to poach almost the entire stable of Disney animators.
Walt had failed again.
He was 27 years old. The creative head of an animation studio with no animators, that had lost its most successful character. Many would give up.
Walt created Mickey Mouse instead.
Along with his key collaborator Iwerks, who did not abandoned him in the great exodus, Disney crafted two silent shorts for their new character Mickey: 'Plane Crazy' and 'The Galloping Goucho'.
And the rest is history, correct?
Nope. Mickey, like so much of Walt's efforts to this point, was a bust.
No distributor was interested in Disney's new character. According to legend, Walt carried the reels from office to office for a month, visiting thirty possible distribution partners. They all passed.
Things were becoming desperate. The fresh start at Disney Brother's was fast becoming a recurring nightmare.
Now was the time to pull the rip-chord, surely.
Instead, Walt pivoted. Their new cartoon project was the last Hail Mary before destitution. An innovation, actually. A cartoon with sound.
"At last", you say, "Disney found his golden ticket".
Believe it or not, you're wrong again.
Despite this new pairing of sound and image in a cartoon, a pioneering first step for the art form, distributors still did not respond.
Confused? How then, did 'Steamboat Willie' become a phenomenon?
Because of audiences.
Universally rejected by New York distributors, Walt called in a favour with a New York theatre owner to play the film before a feature. This was his final, final, final throw of the dice.
And at last, a breakthrough.
The audience reaction was electric. Some even demanded that the feature be delayed so that 'Steamboat Willie' could be replayed. The feature movie, 'Gang War', is now ironically relegated to the misty island of obscurity.
For Walt, the money rolled in. Disney became a household name. Mickey Mouse, the brand, was born.
Today, the Disney Corporation is worth roughly US$180 billion, owning Disney brands, Pixar, ESPN, Lucasfilm, Marvel and The Muppets; to name only a few.
So, my last mental snowflake for you in 2015 is this: Walt Disney was mostly a failure, until he wasn't.
What Disney exhibited consistently, however, was recalcitrance. Persistence. Even pugilism, for his work. As of today, Walt Disney has 26 individual Academy Awards, still the record for the most amount of Oscars for a single person.
I know, the grind of life can be hard. The days can seem long and the toil pointless. As another Xmas arrives with bluster and then fades into memory, treading water can feel like the norm.
But that's an illusion. If you have set yourself to a path, whatever that may be, and pursue it with relentless passion, the tipping point is only as far as your will can stretch.
It's a journey. One where you can fail repeatedly...until you don't.
I hope 2016 is your tipping point.
To help you along the way, in reward of your persisting this far, we come at last to your Xmas gift.
Building a career or brand is often predicated on the sophistication of the creative materials you put out into the world. A website. A video. And yes, a striking image.
To make the whole 'here is my gorgeous picture, with a dramatic filter, and some beautiful text' process easier, I found a free App for you from Adobe, called 'Adobe Post'.
To demonstrate its awesome power, here is an Xmas card for you that took me, literally, four minutes to make. Imagine what you could make in ten?
You can find the free App at https://post.adobe.com/ Enjoy.
Thank you for continuing to be a part of the tales from Opening Act Films, for sharing this Newsletter with like-minded individuals, and may you have a wonderful 2016.
PS: AS USUAL, 'TALES FROM THE OPENING ACT' WILL BE GOING ON HOLIDAYS FOR ALL OF JANUARY 2016. BUT DON'T WORRY, IT WILL BE BACK, BETTER AND MORE PUNCTUAL THAN EVER, IN FEBRUARY. HAVE A SAFE AND RESTFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!!!!! CHEERIO, PETE
- - - - - - - - -
WANT TO COMMENT? THEN BECOME A SUBSCRIBER AND ALSO GET THIS WHIMSICALLY OPTIMISTIC NEWSLETTER STRAIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL.