Thursday, October 20, 2005

10/20/05 Around Apple

Going to Apple, for me, is probably like a Catholic going to the Vatican. Entering building 1L1, the main cathedral, is a solemn moment, and I half expected a choir to be the soundtrack on my arrival. There is a security airlock sort of area, a glassed-in livingroom with a reception desk and a bazillion wireless airport channels available, for visitors while they await an employee to scoop them up.

This evening I'm speaking at the MacFilmmakers session which is being held at Apple's "Town Hall," Job's special auditorium about 6 buildings away from 1L1. The meeting begins at 7, but i arrive at 5 so I can do my web radio interview with "Your Mac Life" from a quiet room here, rather than sitting in my Toyota on a cell. Anyway, it seems fitting to do a Mac Geek Radio show live from Apple. There's a certain symmetry to it.

[the above link to the streaming audio is to the 2 hour radio show; my segment begins exactly 1 hour in, right in the middle.]

A friend of mine rescues me from the lobby, and delivers me to a quiet room with a phone. We chat a little about Apple's recent release of "Appeture," a Photoshop-like tool, that apparently was just announced in NY by a few other of my Apple friends. I believe this is why no one was returning my emails from the lobby that said "You upstairs?"

I can also feel a sore throat coming on. This isn't a good start to the tour. It's been sneaking up for a week, but i think my body was holding it at bay. After the bookshop last night, I believe my body felt like it could finally allow itself to get sick. I don't think it realized this was just the beginning. I'm loathing starting the tour with a cold. I take a few billion milligrams of Vitamin C and start drinking an endless series of bottles of water understanding full well that this commits me to the constant risk of bathroom interuptions at every point of my evening.

The radio interview went well, probably my best rant so far, and the host Shawn King is remarkably quick, informed, and the questions flow. I'm glad this interview--unlike the prior two I've done--is available online for posterity. I think in 30 minutes it covers the book and related topics nicely. It's my second interview with King and he's the real deal. Geeks take note.

Due to a minor scheduling miscommunication, I need to bolt from the phone interview across campus to the Town Hall, set myself up with some books, and do a little selling before the meeting. I dislike handling this myself, but have no option. I have a visa machine, a few dozen books, a wallet, my laptop and a camcorder. This is my local kit for events. I'm looking forward to the rest of the tour when bookstores are handling booksales. Still, there is something remarkable about being handed a wad of cash and pulling this hardback from the box, signing it, and turning it over to an excited new fan. The immediacy and connection are the best closure for the years of writing. It may be rinkydink, but it's a pretty fabulous feeling.

The first person I run into is Kevin Johnson, the mastermind of MacFilmmakers. He's done a remarkable thing with this organization -- even now I can't figure how how they get this room, how they pay for the dozens of pizzas he orders for eveyone, how he runs this group period. There don't seem to be fees or dues. Sixty-odd people are streaming into the gorgeous theater and he's greeting them and setting up for the talks. Young filmmakers bring DVDs to show off their latest short films, or teasers for work they're on. It's a filmmakers' support group. It is, I believe, the precise thing that Lucas and Coppola had dreamed technology would make possible. And here it is.

The next person I run into is Chris "Doc" Wyatt, the producer of Napolean Dynamite. We remember the fun from Sundance and compare notes on our respective tours. This guy is pretty strange looking, but one of the nicer people I've met in years. It looks like we'll be crossing paths again in SOHO next week. He is genuinely thrilled the book is out, and buys the first one off the top of the box. I believe he will dig it. He's here talking about his upcoming film "Think Tank" and he's going to show some clips and tell a story.

As he and the director take the stage and outline their production story, i am struck by the similiarity to the tale of Lucas and Coppola (well, Coppola in particular) in the late '60s making "The Rain People." I could almost substitute "Think Tank" for "Rain People" in Chapter 2 and it would read about the same, 40-odd years later. As liberated as technology has made us, with everyone able to make movies, it is still hard work, still a generally thankless labor of love. Doc's presentation is lively and fun and, being the mench he clearly is, Doc returns to his seat to get his DROIDMAKER, and returns to the stage to hold it up and insist everyone come back from the pizza break to hear me speak and get the book.

My talk is maybe a 5 on my personal scale of how in the groove I feel. It's nice having some photos to show, and way easier than the bookshops where I just chat, although it lends things to be a little more disjointed. But I think people got excited by the story. This is my people, after all. Ken Carson is here in the audience, one of my co-workers at The Droid Works on the EditDroid, and for the past many years one of the senior developers of Final Cut Pro. After the talk I show Ken where he is in the book. One of his emails to me in 1987 makes up the last line of the last chapter. I also see Tom Scott here. Tom is another one of the great people i got to know at Lucasfilm, and was very helpful in my research. He not only won oscars for sound in The Right Stuff and, I think, Amadeus, but he's Walter Murches' cousin. I give him a book and he gives me a T-shirt I've known about but never seen in person -- the shirt that was the Apocalypse Now wrap shirt, "Release with Honor" -- that he must have had in a drawer since 1979. It's very cool, a piece of history, and i'm honored.

By the time I pack out of Apple, I sold all the books I brought, my backpack is stuffed with business cards and good wishes, and I hit the road, tired, sore (throat), and marginally elated at this first connection to my old industry, the people who are perhaps the truest benefactors for Lucas' legacy, independent filmmakers and editors.

I have 3 days to get better before my flight to NY.
I'll keep you posted.


kyle phillup said...

Easter Eggs In Category 7
The visual-effects team behind CBS' upcoming SF disaster miniseries Category 7: The End of the World told SCI FI Wire that they managed to sneak their names and initials into several scenes.
blog food... I love it! Can I bookmark you and tell a friend? Sometimes I find a great blog like yours and my friends really like them too.

I'm just learning about blogs, but I really like what you've done here. Getting started with my sites: extra large dog house | Surf Boards but they are still under development.

super job! so keep it up.
good day.

PeaceLove said...

Hi Michael,

I was at the MacFilmmakers meeting and I thought you were great! I thoroughly enjoyed BOTH halves of the meeting and I was moved and inspired. I bought the book and I'm about halfway through and loving the history.

I worked as a film (as in, "film") editor in L.A. in the late Eighties, but I had a close friend cutting a show using Montage and another friend working with the EditDroid. So I have an educated layman's interest. Great book for anyone who wants to know where digital media came from!


P.S. The comment above mine is spam. I had a bunch of those before I set up word verification, which you now have, too.

loatfield said...

interesting note about Tom Scott; turly one of the greats of Audio.

(yes it was Amedeus)