Friday, August 30, 2013

Morals Schmorals

I rewatched The Matrix a few days ago and it reminded me of a shuda, wuda, cuda that I sometimes think about.

In 1983 I was roading a show I'd co-produced, in Southern California. It was your standard capitalistic media extravaganza, using metaphors to explain what would otherwise seem brash and greedy, to surround speeches that talked of nothing but brashness and greed.

I'd owned my studio for 4 years by then and had developed a "calling card" skill, one that identified my work uniquely. I used library music (that music written specifically for commercials and such) like others scored their own. I was a master at making prerecorded junk sound as if John Williams had penned each note to the exquisitely boring verbiage.

I also was quite adept at creating my own sound effects from whole cloth, and this particular show was a crowning glory at that point in my career.

Often a writer in that venue will use historical references to give extra importance to mundane commerce; comparing the scientists who brought us post it notes to Copernicus in an offhand, metaphorical way for example.

Why, I don't remember; but this was the story of the battle between the Monitor and doubt some tale of the struggle between two like brands to see who comes out ahead or such claptrap. The part that matters is that I recreated the fight between two ironclad steamships on open water with cheering crowds of opposing soldiers on opposite shorelines...and I did a fine job if I say so. It's a skill that really only matters in film, but as I was originally trained in that media, I put it to use when I could because it was damn fun.

The show was attended by, among others, stockholders of the company; and one of those just happened to be a film company mogul of sorts. He was quite impressed at my mix and sought me out backstage after the day’s events. I actually had dinner with him as my client was preoccupied and my crew was resetting for the next day’s schedule.

When I entered dj school, it never occurred to me I'd wind up doing audio for a living. It was an accident really; a pleasurable twist of fate. So each day was another adventure and I took them as they came with no plans, no design and no expectations. I will admit to harboring a desire to work in the feature film business, but I wanted a bazillion dollars as I didn't think about my "dreams" much beyond their being boredom filler.

Suddenly I was being interviewed so I discovered, for a job in da movies. The guy turned out to be a studio exec who wanted to latch onto me before I left town in two days hence, and once chatting me up for a few hours, he cut right to the chase with a monetary offer that was fairly generous on its face.

Of course there's a rub; there always is in my world.

The company he represented was one that made porn films, one attached to a distributor called Excaliber Films at the time.

Now, I have nothing against your average porn; I've been known to imbibe. But I did have two problems as I sat stunned with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

One has to do with location. I have a hard time seeing myself paying the price to live in an LA environment; or Chicago or New York for that matter. I've lived for some time on both coasts as well as a few interior states and in the end I always come back to Minnesota. I guess it's a God's country thing that I never grew out of.

But too, I don't like crowds, I get nasty in heavy traffic and a huge metropolitan area offers me nothing that I can't get in a far more quiet and peaceful area as long as I'll compromise.

The other problem has to do with perception. I'm not so sure why and no doubt it's hypocritical, but I have far less moral problem "using" porn than I would have "making" it. I'd have a tough time looking my 2.5 kids/3 car garage/paraprofessional neighbors in the eye if my sole source of income was gleaned from the proper collection of human/animal audio.

He gave me a day to think it over. I didn't need it and I'm now almost sorry to say that while I was wholly flattered, I turned him down.

Cuda...certainly. I had nothing holding me here, I was an independent vendor working with a number of firms. I was easily replaceable in the scheme of the marketing business.

Wuda...if I were a normal human being I would have taken the offer in a flash. Screw morals and besides, perhaps being sensitive to self-righteous blather about sex is one of my many problems in the first place that taking a job in the industry might have cured.

Shuda...I'm a lousy fortune teller. That said, my ex industry is a "right place at the right time/who ya know" vocation. If there were any possibility of my "breaking into" the movies as a tech, it would only have been by my working in at least a fringe market in a city that produces major film projects. In the 80's that was pretty much LA, Chi and New Yawk.

I have plenty in my past I can tag on myself as unforgivable grievances, so I avoid using my career as a whipping post. All in all I did well, had fun, made good cash and won a few dozen awards.

Who knows...had I taken the job I might be forever known as the guy who invented the sound of "Matrix bullet time". He's out there somewhere. No one really knows who he is but his peers, but I'm sure he couldn't care less about the fame. He/she's got my job, and a damn fine job it mighta been.

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