Back in the late 90′s when the original Matrix was going into production, there were some serious budget concerns. See, the Wachowski brothers (the guys who created the series) had only directed one movie before.
Their ideas and concepts were grand, but their experience was lacking.
So the Hollywood “powers-that-be” gave them about 12% of the budget that was being asked for. What did the Wachowskis do? Did they scale back their vision and compromise on the story they dreamed of telling?
Not a chance.
These sophomore directors took their ENTIRE budget and spent it on the opening scene. Once they got it edited together as best they could, they took the ten minutes of footage and showed it to the producers.
Before you could say “I know kung-fu” the Wachowskis received all the money they had asked for and The Matrix was well on its way to reshaping western cinema. And how did this happen?
Because two brothers with a dream went and made an amazing first impression.
In the Beginning
“A great first impression” has become a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less important. That same opening scene in The Matrix that won over the studio execs hooked millions of film goers into loving the rest of the movie. If you took a moment, you could probably think of quite a few great movie openings.
You may not realize it, but those first few minutes shaped quite a bit of your attitude towards the rest of the film.
If a stand-up comedian’s first joke bombs, there is a good chance he will get zero laughs the rest of the night. If his first joke is hilarious, then he has the audience in his pocket. They have decided that this guy is funny and worth listening to.
It’s science…or psychology…or something.
The important thing is that it is true and it is a concept I have been trying to apply to my own life lately.
Winning the Crowd
See, I’ve been working on this book for a while (truth be told, it should have been finished by now), and there’s one part I keep coming back to. Of all the chapters, it has been rewritten the most. In case you haven’t guessed, it’s the intro. I want it to be perfect.
Because I know my introduction chapter is everything. Of all the chapters, it has to be the most universal. It has to build trust. It has to bring the reader’s guard down. I want the audience to believe that somewhere beyond this opening is advice that they can benefit from and stories that will move them.
It’s tricky and intimidating, but if I nail it, there’s a good chance the reader will finish the whole thing.
If I blow the first impression, people might close the book right there and walk away.
Dead in the Water
Every year, hundreds of TV shows get cancelled. Some of them are awful. Others are actually quite fantastic. Either way, most of them probably had mediocre first episodes.
So many shows fail to succeed simply because the first few episodes were average at best. The episodes that follow are too little, too late.
On the flip side, shows that start off great are given leeway. Even the best TV shows have a mediocre season in the mix (like season 2 of Friday Night Lights). But because the audience knows how great it can be, because they have seen its potential, they ride out the rough times.
And the Same is True for You
The better impression you make earlier on, the more opportunity you’ll be given later. I like to think most everyone has something they are great at, some sort of purpose written on their very soul. First impressions are a chance to let that shine. To show your potential.
If you fail coming out of the gates, it’s only going to make the future harder. But don’t get scared or intimidated. See, when you’re just starting off the expectations are about as low as they are ever going to get.
Why not go all out?
What do you have to lose? Get started off right. Take the world by surprise. Make a great first impression in all that you do.
Have you ever wowed someone with a first impression?