Friday, March 7, 2008

A great story

The recent death of Roy Scheider got me thinking about storytelling. First up, let me say that I was always a fan of Scheider. He was one of those performers who do the magic without having to wear the flashy cape and shiny top hat. When he was on screen he was always at the service of the story, stepping back when it was required and stepping up when needed. Scheider’s passing got me into storytelling because what stories need to stay alive are connections inspiring other stories. Today those connections have become impossibly easy to make with the linking culture of the Internet, but there are other cool links a great story can make beyond the screen.

In his iconic role as Police Chief Brody, Scheider connects us into the heart of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning movie Jaws, inspired by the Peter Benchley novel. First is Frank Mundus, the shark hunter who told Benchley the story of how he’d harpooned a giant shark with lines attached to barrels and chased it until it ran out of steam. Mundus was also the guy who caught a massive 3,000 pound shark that had been terrorizing swimmers off a bathing beach in New York. And he’s still at it aged 84. His boat, the Cricket II, is out in the deep blue more often than not with its crew tossing out chum to attract a man-eater or two. Mundus connects to Richard Dreyfuss, as the character Matt Hooper in the movie. He sums up those man-eaters Mundus pursues in one of my favorite movie lines: “Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that's all.” Sounds like a few CEOs I’ve met in my time!