Rock solid determination

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From Paul Zollo’s book Hollywood Remembered, an oral history of the movie industry: A 2001 interview with A. C. Lyles, a producer at Paramount who was born in 1918 in Jacksonville, Florida and worked at Paramount for over 60 years.

When I was 10 [in 1928] I wanted to make movies…

I had seen a picture called Wings — the first and only silent picture to win the Academy Award — with Clara Bow… and a new fella named Gary Cooper [who subsequently became a huge star]. I went and just fell in love with that picture. It was a Paramount picture playing at the Paramount Theater [at the time, the studios owned the theaters] in Jacksonville. I had seen that it said Adolph Zukor Presents, so I was in awe of Adolph Zukor [the founder and CEO of Paramount]. I spoke to the manager of the theater that day [to see] if he would give me a job. And he gave me a job handing out leaflets…

After four years in the job [he was then 14] I eventually met Adolph Zukor… when he came to Jacksonville. I asked him to let me come to Hollywood to work for him. He said, “Well, you’re just a kid, but you’ve been working for Paramount now for four years at the theater. So you finish high school, keep in touch, and I’ll hire you when you get out of high school.”

Now that was extremely kind of him… when he said to keep in touch and finish high school, my main objective then was to finish high school. But the most important thing was writing him a letter every Sunday. He didn’t tell me to write him every Sunday, he just told me to keep in touch. So I wrote him every Sunday for four years.

He didn’t write back — I didn’t hear from him but it didn’t matter. I never lost confidence or lost courage. I just knew he was looking forward to my letter each week as much as I was looking forward to writing him.

One day Gary Cooper came to my hometown. I was writing movie news for the hometown paper. I saw Mr. Cooper and I told him I would be out here in Hollywood to work at Paramount as soon as I got out of high school. And there again, for some reason, he took a quick liking to me. I told him about my letters to Zukor every Sunday and he asked me what I would be writing about this week, and I said, “Oh, about meeting you, Mr. Cooper.”

So he said, “Give me a piece of paper.” So he… wrote a note to Adolph Zukor saying, “I’m looking forward to seeing this kid on the lot.” So I wrote to Mr. Zukor telling him I had met Gary Cooper and enclosed the note to him.

Then I heard from Mr. Zukor indirectly. A woman named Sidney Brecker, who was his secretary, wrote to me and said, “Mr. Zukor has been receiving your letters. But he feels that you don’t have to write every week. If you wrote once every three or four or five months, that would be enough.”

Well, that didn’t discourage me at all. I continued to write to Mr. Zukor every Sunday. But I also had a new pigeon, Sidney Brecker, his secretary. So I wrote her every Sunday too. My whole main objective all week was what I was going to write to Mr. Zukor. Then I had to write another original letter to Sidney Brecker…

I wrote [Zukor] a letter every Sunday for four years, keeping in touch. The day I got out of high school [in 1936, in the heart of the Great Depression], I was in a day coach headed for Hollywood, where you sit up — probably four days and four nights. I had $48 in cash that I had saved up, and two loaves of bread, and two jars of peanut butter and a sack of apples, and I headed for Hollywood. Got off the train downtown, took the streetcar straight to Paramount, and told them at the gate to tell Mr. Zukor I was here.

    And I’ve been here ever since.

Producer, A. C. Lyles

RCA 1995-1997

Dan Sellars post-graduate design study was at the Royal College of Art. The image above is taken from the interactive narrative project that he directed/designed as part of the industrial design/computer-related design 1997 show.

Nine Star Ki was a late-night interactive film experiment running on three TV channels simultaneously. You would be allowing viewers to experience a thriller by switching between opposing points of view. This conceptual interactive tv prototype could be deployed assuming three UK network television stations would agree to run the films simultaneously.

Blade Runner Final Cut 2007

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die…”

According to CyberpunkReview today, Warner Home Video will issue a new remastered director’s cut of the classic SF movie Blade Runner in September now that it has cleared up rights issues, followed by a theatrical release of a version promised to be truly director Ridley Scott’s (Kingdom of Heaven recent movie) final cut, Variety reported. Warner’s rights to Blade Runner lapsed a year ago, but the studio has since negotiated a long-term license.

NSA’s Brand Problem

NSA

Good Will Hunting
written by Matt Damon & Ben Affleck

Will:Why shouldn’t I work for the N.S.A.?

That’s a tough one, but I’ll take a shot. Say I’m working at the N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ’cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people that I never met and that I never had no problem with get killed.

Now the politicians are sayin’, “Send in the marines to secure the area” ’cause they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there, gettin’ shot. Just like it wasn’t them when their number was called, ’cause they were pullin’ a tour in the National Guard.

It’ll be some kid from Southie takin’ shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ’cause he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks.

Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain’t helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They’re takin’ their sweet time bringin’ the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin’ play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain’t too long ’til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy’s out of work and he can’t afford to drive, so he’s walking to the fuckin’ job interviews, which sucks ’cause the schrapnel in his ass is givin’ him chronic hemorroids.

And meanwhile he’s starvin’ ’cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they’re servin’ is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I’m holdin’ out for somethin’ better. I figure, fuck it, while I’m at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.

Ray and Charles Eames

The legacy of Ray and Charles Eames extends far beyond their classic furniture pieces. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to design long before that was the norm, the Eameses created over 100 short films between 1950 and 1982. Join DWR, in conjunction with Eames Foundation and Herman Miller, as we celebrate their film legacy. We’ll be screening seven films with a total running time of about 60 minutes. Attendees are encouraged to stay for a discussion following the screenings. New York screening details.

A Vatican for film-makers

havana-cars

How does a Havana film school attract lavish funding and the likes of Soderbergh and Spielberg? With a nod and a wink from Fidel Castro. Chris Payne reports on a little corner of Cuba that is forever Hollywood .

“If you’re unfamiliar with Cuba’s cinematic heritage, you might assume that a film school run with Fidel Castro’s help would be coaching its students in flag-waving reconstructions of the Bay of Pigs or promo reels exhorting the nation’s nickel workers to greater heights of production. Hardly any films produced on the island since the 1960s have achieved distribution in the UK. The Buena Vista Social Club, the internationally successful documentary about a group of old-time Havana musicians, which became the soundtrack of every middle-class dinner party, was made by the German director Wim Wenders.”

Guardian article reporting on this amazing discovery in Cuba.

Cinematographer Sven Nykvist dies

Sven Nykvist

Oscar-winning cinematographer Sven Nykvist, who often worked with director Ingmar Bergman, has died aged 83. Nykvist won Academy Awards for Bergman films Cries and Whispers in 1973 and Fanny and Alexander in 1982. He also worked on several films with Woody Allen and was the cinematographer on 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Other film work included The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Chaplin and Sleepless in Seattle.

Albert Maysles

Albert Maysles

I was lucky enough to met this legendary documentary filmmaker last year at a dinner. Albert captures the fragility of people’s lives. His stories are tales of great courage. Two of America’s foremost non-fiction filmmakers, Albert Maysles and his brother David (1932-1987) are recognized as pioneers of “direct cinema,” the distinctly American version of French “cinema verité.” They earned their distinguished reputations by being the first to make non-fiction feature films – films in which the drama of human life unfolds as is, without scripts, sets, or narration.

I’ll ping you frequently

Woody

“80 percent of success is just showing up” — Woody Allen

In anything you do, people want to know they can count on you. They want to know that those whom they buy from, and associate with, will be there for the long haul. One of the best ways to prove you are the real deal is to always be present. Out of sight is out of mind. People need to know they can count on you. Staying connected, remaining in-touch and ready to respond is a challenge. That is increasingly important in a widely connected, but increasingly impersonal world.

Dear Jenny

Way back when, at AGENCY.COM our creative group collectively made a short film as an internal creative project. I’ll put the movie up again shortly.

The Prophecy

Francis Ford Coppola

In 1991, Francis Ford Coppola said:

“To me the great hope is that now these little video recorders are around and people who normally wouldn’t make movies are going to be making them. And suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her father’s camcorder and for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form.”

This quote should make any self-respecting film buff smile.

Steven Soderbergh on clarity

“The hardest thing in the world is to be good and clear when creating anything. It’s the hardest thing in the world. It’s really easy to be obscure and elliptical and so fucking hard to be good and clear. It breaks people. Because you don’t often get encouragement to do that, to be good and clear.”

This quote came from a great interview with Believer magazine. His version of the 1970’s sci-fi epic Solaris is stunning/complex/sparse. I laugh when I think that might actually be his ordainment movie.

Femme Fatale

Angry Femme Fatale with high heel in her hand

I’m figuratively dressing a femme fatale for a cinematic sequence.

She’s well read, well-spoken and has her own particular ‘likes and dislikes’ navigating several centuries of art/culture yet enjoys talking up trashy fashion.

Make no mistake, this women is versed in the science of seduction. Frankly, her weapon of choice is the sophisticated pencil skirt, a move of her calculated creativity.

‘Seek and you shall find’ meaning accept deeper research. The true jewels of this intriguing femme fatale can be found fairly easily. I’m adoring this women already. Defining more expression/history/character traits will allow us to go beyond stereo-typical references.

She’s a trained master in seduction.

“slim silhouette stays that way – with just a flattering hint of poufiness”

The hand-on-hips is a unifying image of sophisticated 1920’s style femininity.

Femme Fatale wearing pencil skirt

The high-hip skirt is a much softer look/playful touch. Black nylon tights, or something with a slight pattern. Elegant Christian Louboutin’s stilettos, painted toes, red gloss, towards the darker side of red.