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Imagine that you have just seen The Revenge of the Sith and are leaving the movie theater. A man approaches he s holding a microphone. We re here shooting a documentary. Would you care to express your opinion about Revenge of the Sith? You say, Sure, and suddenly find yourself in front of a film crew.
The interviewer asks three questions:
What did you think of the movie?
We re making a movie in which people sit down and down and talk about the entire Star Wars chronicle. What do you think of that idea?
How would you like to be in the movie?
One week later you are walking into a large room. With you are seven other people, none of whom you know. You still believe you are all here for only one reason: to talk about Star Wars.
The only other person present is a mysterious young woman who immediately takes charge but claims she will also be serving espresso. She seats you at an oval table in the center of the room. You take your bearings and notice the espresso cart off to one side strange. The conversation begins. At first, it seems friendly enough. You all love Star Wars. Then you look around and realize: we have nothing else in common. You are talking with people you would never ordinarily talk with. Or maybe even want to, outside this room. But no one seems to care. And no one is holding back. You wonder why.
Because it s a movie?
There s a sense in the room we re all in the same boat why not make the most of it. But here and there, your little boat is springing leaks. Then, suddenly, from all sides, the water pours in:
Gay marriage and adoption
Grand Theft Auto
The war in Iraq
And the conversation is no longer just about Star Wars . . .
One of my fondest memories is of being taken every Thursday evening to UCLA and to the iconic Royce Hall in the center of campus to see the masterworks of such directors as John Ford, Josef von Sternberg, Fritz Lang and King Vidor. This was the mid-1960s, and all these directors were, miraculously, still alive, and even more miraculously, there, in Royce Hall, at the screenings, to talk about the films we had just seen: The Iron Horse and The Grapes of Wrath; The Blue Angel and Morocco; Woman in the Moon and Fury; The Crowd and Our Daily Bread.
Of course, my love affair with film had begun long before this, and it must have seemed awfully strange to my parents that when I was ten or eleven I was asking for such books as Classics of the Silent Screen ; or to my teachers when in an essay on American history, in the ninth grade, I bemoaned the fact that Frank Capra was no longer being permitted to make movies.
I loved UCLA, even as kid and it was the only college I ever applied to. Why I didn t enroll in film school is still an unfathomable mystery to me. However, I did earn a degree in Political Science, and my continuing fascination with this subject is reflected in the various social and political issues that are at the core of The Audience Strikes Back.
Much earlier, this interest was also reflected in the somewhat different set of issues that animate my one novel, The Things That Are Thor s, completed in 1987. The book tells the story of how the world s largest oil company, Thor, capitalizes on the world-wide shortage of oil to engineer a colossal coup in Washington. Never sold, the novel may have been way ahead of its time - or just too dangerous to print (no, not really).
So, as the age of technology began to blossom, and finding myself in dire need of a professional makeover after my book went nowhere, I signed on with Microsoft Corporation. And there, in the belly of the beast, I learned a good many useful things about myself.
My tenure at Microsoft lasted, off and on, for nearly eight years, and when I left Microsoft in April 2005, it was for the purpose of making The Audience Strikes Back, my first feature film.
I slipped into the role of director with surprising ease - perhaps it is the part I was born to play. I felt supremely confident throughout the entire production process, but unlike so many other directors who have succumbed to the same phenomenon, I hope and trust that this, in reality, was not some temporary form of megalomania.
One thing only is assured: Sadly, I will never stand on equal ground with the likes of John Ford, Josef von Sternberg, Fritz Lang, or King Vidor, but I am grateful that I have been able to experience a little of what they experienced, and to feel a little of what they felt.