Monday, February 4, 2013

Post raiders

Quick recap of the Raiders screening at Sheridan last Friday: went very well, pretty good attendance, considering the weather.( I had been downtown picking up some freelance, coming back on the bus it was snowing to beat the band, had me worried i wasn't going to get out to Oakville) Mostly students from the BAA program; lots of familiar faces: Thanks so much for showing up , everyone! And then,  Kaj and Annie Pindal showed up! Someone even bought me a beer at Monahan's after!
Prefaced the screening with a few comments, but did most of the talking afterwards.
I mostly told about the story of how i managed to be there, the things I did while there over the two years and how some of the effects were done.
Commented on the phenomenon of Indiana Jones; how the movie was a small budget production, intended to keep ILM busy between the two Star Wars movies, Empire and Jedi, the effects were considerd a bit "just OK" by the facility, some of that prompted by some last minute improvisation, when it became apparent that animation was not going to carry it. But look what happened!

There was one question that stood out: what was my most fondly remembered moment in all my time in the biz, and, conversely, the most excruciating memory in that same time?
I answered, the best is:  those times you have done a great job, that worked, and you know it, but no one else necessarily knows. And : it was something that was hard to do. Then you just have the satisfaction of having contributed and truly earned the respect and admiration of those you most admire and respect...

I had such a moment, narrowing to the time at ILM: not exactly a Riaders story, but I still there for effects on Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. I did work on the phaser bolt shots, the photon torpedoes, and a couple other things. One day they were setting up dailies after having done dailies for another show,. Dennis Muren was the supervisor on the other show. People were just coming in, the projectionist was running the first few feet to check focus. My shot was first on the reel that day: one of the shots of a phaser beam being shot by the Enterprise. Muren was on his way out of the room, but then stopped, looked up, and said, to no one in particular: "huh, nice looking phaser", and carried on out the door. He didn't know who had done it. He expected work to be nothing less than good. It was an off hand comment. But to me, it was praise of the highest order. He could never have paid me a higher compliment than that and I have carried it with me ever since.
And believe it or not, I actually found a frame of this scene on the net, so somebody else liked it too!

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Note that these are team moments, not lone wolf moments. These things are done in the company of others and that is part of the pleasure.

As for the worst moment ever, I admit I just blew that one off and made some joke about, the thing you work on all night that gets cut out, or when you dump the ink over your work.
But there is a truer, harder answer: and again, it deals with the work. It is when you have worked hard, done your best, but for some reason beyond your control, you become an albatross. You become a curse on the project and all you do to help makes it worse. It is baffling and unfair, it is excruciating and a terrible blow to your professional pride and your self confidence, but it happens and has happened to me.
There is nothing really you can do but to accept it and move on. Hard to do.