Thursday, March 23, 2006

Watching the end credits

Like most younger siblings, I was influenced in ways both big and small by my older sibling.

For instance, my brother and I have always watched the ending scroll credits of a movie. Looking back, I think it was his way of forestalling the inevitable end of the temporary escape that the movie offered.

Amazing that the long scrolling closing movie credits are a relatively new phenomenon, credited (I believe) to George Lucas and Star Wars - Ep IV. Think about it. Before 1977, the end of the movie was generally, the end of the movie. The End, Fin, that was all you got.

As I got more interested in the filmmaking process, first as a youngster with my Dad's old 8mm Canon and Kodak tape splicing kit, then as a semi-serious undergraduate tv major, to a much more serious graduate film student at UCLA, only to become a not very serious at all worker bee in the independent film world, my childhood routine of watching the entire end credits of a movie grew to become a necessity. A required part of the movie going experience.

It was fun to watch for familiar names in the myriad of proper nouns that passed up and out of frame.
Hey, there's Susan. Guess she's still at ILM.
Look, Donald worked post on this.
Wow, Todd was 2nd AC.
Oh, remember Paco, was he a PA on that Corman film you worked on?

As time has passed, quite a few of my friends, acquaitances, co-workers, and people I knew or met through other people have moved from the small fonts at the end of the film to the large fonts at the beginning of the film. Yet, I still get a thrill at seeing a familiar name.

And like any good parent, I have passed this odd behavior instilled upon me by my brother, onto my daughters.

Yesterday evening, I took the girls to a matinee of Aquamarine," which C has been "just dying" to see since she saw the trailer a few months ago.

Duly trained, as the film ended happily ever after and those around us gathered their belongings and made way for the nearest bathroom, the girls didn't move a muscle.

Conscious of the rolling credits, parental instinct kicked in and I proceeded to perform my fatherly duties -- collected up the coats, hats, mittens and toys that the girls had strewn about our aisle.

The credits rolled.

Turned the ringer on my cell phone back on and checked my lap for the missing Milk Dud that I just knew had gotten wedged between my shirt folds instead of the death pit of the theater floor.

And still they rolled.

Checked the girl's popcorn buckets and determined whether or not there was enough to salvage for my wife to munch on later that night.

Rolling, rolling, rolling.

Finally I said, "You guys almost ready to go?" C pointed to the screen, still sitting contently in her chair and muttered, "They're not done yet."

I looked up and whadya know...staring me in the face was a familiar name, Alex Dai.

I still find it amazing how your eye-brain connection can pick out a single name in all those scrolling names, and instantly playback a memory about that person in the movie theater of your mind, all the while continuing to scan the still scrolling names.

Alex was credited as the Storyboard Artist for the film. I had known him as a Tech Support Agent at my former cube-farm job.

He was a talented, fledgling comic book artist at the time, and a helluva good Mac Tech Agent. During our "sentence" as TS agents, we shared some good laughs over tech support calls, ate some nasty fast food during our alloted 30-minute lunch breaks, and generally got along pretty well. My brother is a talented undiscovered comic book writer, and Alex and I would talk at length about the dificulties of breaking into that industry. I actually do recall mentioning to Alex the possibility of trying his hand at Storyboarding, since I knew of some artists who were doing it and making decent dinero.

I lost contact with him when our company outsourced most of it's call center jobs offshore. Guess he decided to go a different direction with his art. Good for him.

The end scroll was over, the girls were ready, the lights were up, and I had another one of those moments that makes life itself, an interesting movie indeed.

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