Blog: Ideas

Passion is Good. Obsession gets more likes.

As an easily fixated person, I’m always fascinated by the types of things other people are obsessed with; especially the things that require a lot of time, patience and a certain degree of fastidiousness. And I’m not alone in this preoccupation. If you subtract all the kitty cats videos and the once-in-a-lifetime flukes, how many of the most popular viral videos are the result of a meticulous dedication to doing one thing over and over? All the rest?

Francis Ford Coppola recognized how transfixed we become when we watch another’s work. By design, most of his films contain a scene with the main character in some act of intricate detail.

In his 1974 film “The Conversation”, Coppola’s camera stops to watch Harry Caul – a security surveillance expert – withdrawal from his own party into a plastic draped room where he assembles eavesdropping devices; listening in on his guest’s conversations.

The 1970’s electronics are beyond antiquated with their big silver knobs, alligator clips, and long runs of speaker wire. Despite this – or maybe because of it – you can’t help watching Harry work. His meticulous obsession and translucent cage are as absorbing as they are revealing; exposing the true nature of the detached and secretive Harry Caul.

(Interestingly, Coppola originally named his main character Harry Call…because he tapped telephones. However, a production secretary’s typo gave Harry a last name that hinted at his true character: “CAUL” – a translucent membrane that covers the face and head. But I digress)

Passion for what we do is good, but showing what obsesses us about our passion is the path to attracting and engaging an audience.

Here is an example that “sticks” with me. I love the meticulous obsession of both film maker and the subject—a masking tape artist.

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