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A Fond Memory: The Fifth Element

When I moved to California, my original intention was to become a Visual Effects Artist. My other intention was to do anything possible to get out of Detroit. Back then, being a Visual Effects Artist seemed like the coolest job ever for a nerdy technical guy. Not long after I moved, the movie “The Fifth Element” was released. To this day, I still think it’s a great movie. I remember watching the video with my girlfriend (now my wife) and stopping the tape (yes, it was a tape) at a particular scene that caught my eye.

In this scene, a spaceship was taking off from a hangar for Fhloston Paradise. I remember pausing the tape and staring at this image for quite some time, remarking to my wife (then girlfriend) that the detail in this image was quite amazing. I didn’t know much about Visual Effects at the time (and I still don’t) but I have eyes and I could certainly appreciate an amazing piece of art. If you ever get a chance to see this painting take a minute to really appreciate it.

Fast forward a few years later; I had just started a new job at Digital Domain in Venice, CA. I was walking around the studio taking in all of the sights and models hanging from the walls and checking out the conference room designed by Frank Gehry called “The Whale.” I walked past this one office and on the wall hung a poster that had to be about a 5′ x 3′ version of that very scene. The office was empty, so I stood there for a while admiring the detail of this painting. A few minutes later, Kevin Mack walked in. It turns out that it was his office and he had painted this. I told him how much I liked it and we talked about it a little bit more before I slinked back to my nerd pen.

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For a brief moment, I thought to myself that I had made it. I was finally on my way to what I wanted to do and felt like I was part of the movie business. It turns out that as a Systems Administrator at a Visual Effects company, I was no more a part of the movie business than Stephen Spielberg’s Gardner or Lindsey Lohan’s Parole Officer, but it really felt good at the time. After working there for a few years, I came to realize that the life of a Visual Effects artist wasn’t for me, since I liked things like sunshine and weekends, but I still remember that moment fondly.

Thanks, Kevin.

Posted in Personal Insights, Venice.

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