Thousands of people get laid off. One of the victims decides to help by writing a blog, offering advice, posting freelance job listings. Through his site and Twitter he meets dozens of peers who are out of work. He finds inspiration in their initial struggle and eventual transformation. He has an idea for a film. An entire creative community emerges from the shadows to help. All for free. Motivated by the desire to create something together that might be amazing. Seven months later Lemonade the Movie premieres to a packed house in Cambridge’s historic Brattle theatre. The film, about 16 people who got “whacked,” comes to an end. The audience, filled with people who themselves had been downsized, erupts in applause.
Amazing it was.
I’ve attended more advertising events than I care to admit or remember. But I’m not sure I’ve ever been to one that was more uplifting. Ironic that the joy and celebration and camaraderie that permeated the crowd all emanated from the fact that a whole lot of people lost their jobs.
Our business is hard, stressful, unforgiving and filled with rejection. But every now and then we get to make something wonderful or cheer on those around us who do. We experience the thrill of starting with a blank sheet of paper, our imaginations, and a vision. More often than not the obstacles we encounter – time, money, too many differing opinions – dent the product if not our spirits and what comes out the back end is a compromised version of a project we put months of our lives into.
But once in a while we create something magical. We don’t have to make excuses, blame someone else, explain that it “tested better.” We get to follow our instincts, avoid the naysayers, and answer to only one critic. The harshest critic any good creative person will ever have. Himself.
There was a lot to celebrate last night. The support of the community. The amazing accomplishments of all those featured in the movie who’ve changed their lives and found new places to focus their creative energy. And the movie itself, beautifully shot, tightly edited, genuinely emotional.
All three reminded me why I love this miserable business. It’s not because of the advertising. It’s because of the people. All of them filled with ideas, creativity, passion and, and in the case of Erik Proulx, compassion, too.
If you get the chance, see this movie.