A Truth about Film — 10 Comments

  1. Nice post Doc. The first use of a movie that I experienced in a training course was on a course about ‘Accelerated Business Transformation’ that I took when I was a consultant at Ernst & Young. The clip was the classic from Jerry Maguire – ‘Show Me The Money’. The timing of it in the course was perfect, message was clear.

    • Thanks Gordon. Ah, another example of a scene with Tom Cruise – Jerry Maguire. Loved this movie. The Director Cameron Crowe was at the top of his game (along with Almost Famous). I can imagine how that clip could have an impact on many business-related courses or meetings, especially before the 2008 global financial crisis. However, I wonder how it would resonate today. For instance, the famous Gordon Gekko “greed is good” speech probably is not embraced as it was when the film Wallstreet was released. What do you think?

  2. Fantastic story. I remember a professor in my artificial intelligence class in college using a clip from 2001: A Space Odyssey where Hal acts according to its own whims about the power of AI.

    • That’s a great example Jared, perhaps the grand daddy of all A.I. films. I can remember my friends, great lovers of sci-fi flicks, raving about the many elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Check out the film Ex Machina if you have not already done so. The story is quite chilling regarding what may be in store for the human race. The performance by Alicia Vikander as the robot with super advanced A.I. is terrific. There is no doubt that Ex Machina has useful clips to use in our upcoming Knowledge Networking workshops, especially when we cover the topic of knowledge transfer. So, thanks for giving me a good idea 😉

  3. Hi Doug – loved this – One of the ones that comes up frequently in sales is the famous Glengarry Glen Ross “Let’s talk about something important. Put. That coffee. Down. Coffee’s for closers only.” Taught me everything I ever wanted to know about the kind of sales person I DIDN’T want to be. I also like many of the scenes from “The Big Kahuna”…I just looked this quote up and it refers to your discussion on Truth: “I’m saying you’ve already done plenty of things to regret, you just don’t know what they are. It’s when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you’ve done and you wish that you had it to do over, but it’s too late. So you pick that thing up and carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you, you really don’t matter in the end. Then you will gain character because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.”

  4. Hey Rita, GGR must be a treasure trove of clips for sales training. Great tip, thanks. I know a guy who worked for a big used car company in New Jersey that dealt with high end machines such as Caddies, Lincolns, etc. The sales big shot made them watch the GGR scene and focused more on the Alec Baldwin line: “First prize, you win a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize, a set of steak knives. Third prize, you’re fired.” The fella I know left the place a few weeks later. One thing is clear: if we use clips in meetings or training, some thought has to go into the purpose. Otherwise, the outcome may not be what was intended. As for the Big Kahuna, that’s a really good piece delivered by New Jersey’s very own Danny DeVito. I could easily see that scene being used in a leadership class or a compliance workshop. Cheers

  5. Hi Doug,
    Thank you for sharing these experiences. I didn’t know you were fluent in german 🙂
    A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, when I was still a french lecturer I actually used movies to some extent in order to help capture the students’ interest and illustrate some topics we were studying together. It was quite obvious that some of the classic literature texts they had to study were hard to relate to, often abstract and confusing, so it could be challenging for them to focus and understand the key messages. A modern movie the adolescents liked proved to be a great means to bridge the gap…
    I remember using « Matrix » to start a discussion around the topic of fate: Morpheus: « Do you believe in fate, Neo ? » – Neo: « No » – Morpheus: « Why not? » – Neo: « Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life. ». This led to a very interesting debate, and the text we were studying together became much more accessible to them after that. The combination of the audio-visual media together with an entertaining and much more contemporary story was a powerful recipe. It would also allow to point out that some fundamental topics were echoing throughout time, from antiquity up until now, with its nuances, different views and conclusions depending on the era the texts or films were produced: a mirror of the different timeframes, states of mind and beliefs…
    I can’t remember which text we were studying at the time, so I guess this is also proof that a movie will have more impact on a subject than any other media… Just like you, I have always been a strong believer in the use of the audiovisual means (over any other) to get messages across to people: I think it makes perfect sense since it relies on the combined use of two senses (viewing & hearing), by opposition to books, radio etc. I’m not saying that written media or speech only are lesser forms of communication (they allow the storyteller more freedom develop topics and depict characters without any limits at all, and the audiences can use their imagination much more freely, which are great benefits), I just believe that audiovisual communication is more accessible and effective to transmit a message. And obviously, using movies for storytelling is just awesome and fun to do when you get it right 🙂

    • Danke Thomas. Actually, as long as I’m not speaking German with a German, then my German speaking sills are wunderbar ;-). Thanks for sharing a detailed example. The Matrix was quite a film and I’m impressed that you used it to spark a discussion about fate. I agree that for a lot of folks, combining viewing and hearing may have an impact on retention and probably deeper understanding. This is supported by the theory of dual-coding, which I read about from Dr. Richard Mayer who has conducted research, including the impact that multi-media may have on information retention. Check him out. However, we have to be thoughtful when choosing clips and should consider the following questions: what’s the optimal length, does humor work better than drama, what’s the mother tongue of the audience? These are questions that I explored and helped shape my approach to choosing clips. A blog in the near future will cover Total Recall – my evidenced-based model that I use when dipping into the movie-clip well. Thanks again for your valuable input.

      • Thank you for the tip Douglas, I’ll definitely look into Dr Mayer’s work. I can’t wait to read your post about Total Recall: I assume you are referring to the 1990 version from Verhoeven? Looking forward to your analysis, thank you for this very interesting read.

  6. Funny story on your learning German experience, Doug!

    Early 2000s there was this Belgian satiric tv show called “In de gloria”. The show consisted of short sketches making fun of reality tv and human interest shows. Everything was in Dutch and everybody was fully aware that everything was enacted and nothing was real. In 2006 some parts of these episodes were put online with English subtitles, but without mentioning it was a satire. The videos quickly went viral (appeared on Jay Leno’s show) and the world believed these videos to be real. Even today on Youtube the comment section proves that people believe it to be real!

    The truth can be a tricky thing!