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Rock-and-Roll (räk'n roll') n. first so used (1951) by Alan Freed, Cleveland disc jockey, taken from the song "My Baby Rocks Me with a Steady Roll". The use of rock, roll, rock and roll, etc., with reference to sexual intercourse, is traditional in blues, a form of popular music that evolved in the 1950's from rhythm and blues, characterized by the use of electric guitars, a strong rhythm with an accent on the offbeat, and youth-oriented lyrics. A form of popular music arising from and incorporating a variety of musical styles, especially rhythm and blues, country music, and gospel. Originating in the United States in the 1950s, it is characterized by electronically amplified instrumentation, a heavily accented beat, and relatively simple phrase structure

This web page attempts to explore the roots of rock in such a way as to illuminate the natural progression of musical styles. To often the study of rock begins with Bill Haley and His Comets and includes scant information about the blues and rhythm records that he, and others, used as a model. A musical genre does not simply appear, it gradually evolves to a point in time when some event-performance, publication, or recording allows listeners to perceive its unique qualities and apply a label. Wyonnie Harris' 1947 recording of "Good Rocking Tonight" was one of many "rhythm records" made during the late 1940s, however when it was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1954 it seemed like a new and different approach. What made it seem new and different was its context. Without exploring the history of black popular music, country and western music, race relations, technical developments, and the music business one can be led easily to the conclusion that rock and roll was some new and different music which appeared suddenly.

This page begins with the African musical traits brought here beginning in 1619 and attempts to trace their fusion with the European music brought here by the colonists. The story of this musical interaction is also the story of American popular music and includes the plantation songs of Stephen Foster, the ragtime of Scott Joplin, the blues of Bessie Smith, the jazz of Count Basie, and the jump bands of Louis Jordan. The knowledge of the stream of American popular music allows one to understand that rock and roll was a natural result of the combined forces that effected the music.

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Everette Collection

Before writer-director Philip Kaufman brought Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff to the big screen in 1983, onscreen astronauts were little more than alien quarry or asteroid bait. In Kaufman's hands, however, spaceflight became a far more human pursuit—a story not of external threats but inner resolve. With its three-hour-plus run time and unconventional structure, the film—which tells the story of test pilots like Chuck Yeager and Gordon Cooper as they break the sound barrier and launch toward the exosphere—was almost as daring as its subject. (Kaufman calls it “the longest movie ever made without a plot.”) But it introduced an entire cinematic genre, what Quentin Tarantino has called the “hip epic,” inspiring everyone from Michael Bay to James Cameron, who hired its cinematographer for Titanic. Its dialog has become a go-to signifier of human accomplishment; director Rian Johnson celebrated landing his Star Wars gig by tweeting a clip from the movie. “Phil really pulled it off,” George Lucas says. None other than Christopher Nolan has called it “an almost perfect movie.”

Making it was an epic in itself. Its locations were hard-earned; its special-effects plan was largely reconceived during production; one man lost part of an ear on the set, another lost his life. But more than three decades later, The Right Stuff still resonates, a testament to the incredible feats of bravery, sacrifice, and intelligence of which humans are capable—and to the inherent absurdity of climbing into tin cans mounted on ballistic missiles and blasting into space.


“We Wanted to Make A Serious Film.”

Ed Harris looked so much like astronaut John Glenn that producer Robert Chartoff said, “Please, don’t let this guy get hit by a car … until after the picture is made.”

Dan Winters

In 1979, Hollywood producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff (Rocky, Raging Bull) paid $350,000 to purchase the film rights to The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe's runaway best seller about the space race.

CHUCK YEAGER (RETIRED GENERAL, U.S. AIR FORCE): Tom Wolfe started writing a book about the astronauts' early days. Through that, he discovered the Air Force test pilots who were doing the nitty-gritty work. We weren't getting free houses or notoriety. We were working our tails off for $250 a month. Many of us were dying in the process.

IRWIN WINKLER (PRODUCER): There was a competition with Universal to buy Tom Wolfe's book. They wanted it for John Belushi as a comedy.

ROBERT CHARTOFF (PRODUCER): Like the Airplane series.

WINKLER: We wanted to make a serious film.

CHARTOFF: We bought the book for $350,000, which was a lot at the time.

WINKLER: We hired Bill Goldman to write the screenplay.

CHARTOFF: Probably the hottest writer in Hollywood.

1 Yeager was the first pilot to break the sound barrier, on October 14, 1947.

WINKLER: But Bill's script didn't include the Chuck Yeager character, the epitome of “the right stuff.” 1 So we started looking for other writers.

GEORGE LUCAS: I was born and raised in the Bay Area, so when I got out of film school at USC I wanted to come back. Francis Coppola wanted to get out of Hollywood, so the two of us, we decided we'd move to San Francisco. There was a cadre of people here who were making movies, but more with a San Franciscan sensibility than a Hollywood sensibility. Phil Kaufman was living here. He worked on Raiders for about a week. [Laughs.] He came up with the idea for the ark.

PHILIP KAUFMAN (WRITER, DIRECTOR): When I read The Right Stuff I was just amazed. What I loved about it was not only getting to the truer stories but really beginning where he did, with a quality called “the right stuff” as personified by Chuck Yeager. I envisioned a movie that could be based around that central character or quality.

WINKLER: Originally we wanted Phil to direct and we couldn’t find another writer that we could agree on.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Tom Wolfe didn’t want to write the screenplay. He just didn’t feel that was his métier. I wound up outlining the script, and when Chartoff and Winkler asked me to write it, I turned around the first draft in about eight weeks. I really wanted to go back to Tom Wolfe’s attitude, atmosphere, and humor. I really wanted to find that Tom Wolfe quality, the craziness of the American circus—how the astronauts would be defined publicly by a Life magazine story while the truth was far more interesting, important, and heroic.

WINKLER: We gave Phil’s script to the Ladd Company, ensconced at Warner Bros.

PETER KAUFMAN (PRODUCTION ASSISTANT): Phil and Walter Murch made a great trailer to show Alan Ladd Jr. that making the movie was possible. This was back when Francis Coppola had American Zoetrope, and we rented some offices up off of Little Fox Theater. We had a little editing room. We’d find Walter asleep in there in the morning after working all night.

GARY GUTIERREZ (SUPERVISOR, SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS): Phil Kaufman was looking to storyboard the movie for a presentation to Ladd in LA. It was an enormous job; we created around 1,800 panels. Phil wanted to represent the whole movie. We laid out the storyboards on eight or 10 tables in a conference room and then Phil told the story, walking Ladd around the room. Whenever he’d finish a couple of tables, we’d lay out more. It took several trips around the room.

ALAN LADD JR. (PRESIDENT, THE LADD COMPANY): I said, OK, let's make the movie!

GUTIERREZ: Chuck Yeager became a technical consultant. He was very helpful.

YEAGER: Hollywood is in the business of make-believe. I didn't just walk out and fly the X-1 supersonic. It took unpowered flights and then nine powered flights.

GUTIERREZ: He would look at stuff and say, “Well, that's not exactly how it happened, but I know you fellas have to flower it up.”


“I Felt Like It Was Ridiculous to Play a Living Person.”

“Our characters had no written lines,” Harry Shearer says of the recruiters he and Jeff Goldblum played in the movie. “Phil said, ‘You and Jeff improvised. Hopefully it will be funny.”

Dan Winters

Ladd gave Kaufman a modest budget to make the film, which meant it would have to be made without any bankable stars and with salary caps.

ED HARRIS (JOHN GLENN): I read for Phil Kaufman and wasn't very happy about how it went. Walking out, I hit the wall pretty hard. Phil saw me do that and said, “Oh, the guy's got spunk.”

CHARTOFF: Ed Harris walked into the office, and we looked at him and couldn’t believe that such a person existed. He was not only a wonderful actor but looked so much like John Glenn. And of course we looked at each other and said, “Oh my God, this is the guy we want.” I said to Phil, “Please, don’t let this guy get hit by a car. At least, not until after the picture is made.”

HARRY SHEARER (RECRUITER): I don’t believe there was an audition, because Jeff Goldblum’s and my characters had no lines written for them. Phil Kaufman conceived them, they were not representative of anybody that was in the book, but they were a plot device to move things forward. Phil basically just said, “You and Jeff improvise. Hopefully it’ll be a little funny.”

JEFF GOLDBLUM (RECRUITER): Mr. Philip Kaufman had me in Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978. I'd do anything with him.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: There were 134 speaking parts. Every day somebody new would show up on the set. I had my mission of what I wanted to do, but I also wanted to be entertained. I had Harry Shearer and Jeff Goldblum; life could not have been better.

CALEB DESCHANEL (CINEMATOGRAPHER): Phil and I had mutual friends in San Francisco. I’d gone to school with George Lucas. I knew Walter Murch. They were all part of the same small group of San Francisco filmmakers, with Francis Ford Coppola. Phil sent me the script. I loved it, it’s the kind of thing I grew up loving. My father was an engineer for Martin, who built Titan rockets. When I was a kid I’d build rockets. My dad helped me until I tried to build a liquid fuel rocket using nitric acid and alcohol. He was afraid I was going to blow myself up.

MARY JO DESCHANEL (ANNIE GLENN): Annie Glenn was already cast, and I just had an appointment to meet the casting director and read. I hadn’t been acting because I was having kids. I felt out of practice. Overnight, the actress who had the part asked for more money and fell out. So I didn’t know it when I went in, but they were looking for someone. The casting director said, “Do you know how to stutter?” And I said, “No, but I can try.”

“Mr. Philip Kaufman had me in Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” Jeff Goldblum says. “I’d do anything with him.”

Dan Winters

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Dennis had done some movies, but his brother Randy was better known. I was alone when Dennis came in. I was doing the camera work as well as reading off camera, but I didn’t really know how the camera worked. Dennis said, “I know that camera. I’ve got exactly this kind of camera.” I pressed the button. “It’s red and flashing, does that mean it’s on?” He said, “Yeah, that’s it.” So then Dennis did a reading that was phenomenal. A couple hours later Chartoff and Winkler came in and I said, “Let’s check it out.” Of course Dennis was wrong. The camera was off, and lost to history was one of the greatest auditions I’d ever seen.

TOM WOLFE (AUTHOR): Having Dennis Quaid play Gordon Cooper was a good stroke. Cooper, as a pilot, didn’t have much of a background. He was an OK military pilot. They chose him because he was so cool. He fell asleep on the launchpad. These holds would go on for hours. He also fell asleep during a spaceflight. He was an absolutely cool human being.

FRED WARD (GUS GRISSOM): I was asked to play another astronaut at first. But then Phil asked me to read for Gus Grissom. That was exciting because I really liked the character. What he had to go through, his so-called blowing a hatch. I’d been in the Air Force when I was young, not as a pilot, but as an airborne radar technician in Goose Bay, Labrador, during the cold war. We were one of the first lines of defense. We’d work on the ground, meet with the aircraft, speak to the pilots, see what was going on with the equipment, pull it into the shop. Then we’d have these alerts; we’d have to go out at night and load missiles. These astronauts were big people at the time.

YEAGER: Some of my friends played extras, such as Korky Kevorkian, a pilot and fruit farmer from Reedley, California. I played a bartender.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: We started looking around for someone who could play Yeager. Then my wife, Rose, and I went to a poetry reading in San Francisco and Sam Shepard was reading. Rose poked me and said, “There's your guy.” I said, “For what?” She said, “Yeager.” Sam had a cowboy quality to him. He was Gary Cooper.

SAM SHEPARD (CHUCK YEAGER): Phil offered the part to me a few times, and I refused. I felt like it was ridiculous to play a living person. I knew Chuck and I didn't feel like I was him at all.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: I tracked Sam down at the Chateau Marmont in LA and slid the script under his door.

SHEPARD: He kept hounding me about it. And I did like Phil a lot, and I liked a lot of the actors I'd known through theater and stuff, like Ed Harris and Freddie Ward. So I thought, well, maybe it wouldn't hurt to do it.




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Dennis Quaid as Gordon Cooper Everett Collection


“Make It Like They Did in the Old Days.”

Kaufman wanted his audience to feel the adrenaline rush that early test pilots experienced as they chased the sound barrier, as well as the violence inherent in breaking free from, and reentering, Earth's atmosphere.

GEOFFREY KIRKLAND (PRODUCTION DESIGNER): Phil got this amazing collection of research from NASA and the Navy. He set up a library in his trailer.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Research went on in every area, all through the movie. When the actors showed up, each of them got a book that we had prepared with 30 to 40 pages on each character—every damn thing we could find.

PETER KAUFMAN: I'd go to the Soviet embassy in San Francisco with a copy of the book, and they would give me footage of Star City. They were really helpful, the Russians. And we got footage from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Air Force that hadn't been widely seen.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: We combined the great NASA footage with pieces that were built on the set. We were pioneering in that kind of insertion of actors into historical events. For example, we combined footage of the real Alan Shepard being loaded into the capsule with Scott Glenn doing it on the stage. We had Scott Glenn shaking hands with Kennedy; they did the same thing in Forrest Gump and made a big thing out of spending a million dollars to do it. We did that in one afternoon.

KIRKLAND: One day we went to the model shops to see the first shots of the supersonic jet. We had a production team out there, a whole unit unto themselves. They’d been working for six months, making these amazing models. Every little rivet had a little bit of grime. They’d built a shop, gotten a motion control camera.

GUTIERREZ: We called our motion control system the Cruciflex, because that’s sort of how we felt about it. It controlled camera movements with a computer so that a camera could precisely repeat movements. It featured a Fries Mitchell 35-mm camera mounted on a boom arm, placed at right angles to a vertical shaft. The mechanical system moved a camera along the x, y, and z axes. It allowed it to move in multiple directions. The cross-shaped configuration was in turn positioned on a moving turntable, which enabled the whole apparatus to swing around as it traveled down the track. The Cruciflex allowed the camera to pan 360 degrees, roll 360 degrees three times, and pitch approximately 200 degrees. You could shoot one element—say, the X-1—in front of a blue screen and the camera would travel toward the model, giving the impression that the X-1 was moving toward the camera.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: We discovered that the motion control effects George was doing on Star Wars didn't create the grittier effect we wanted.

CALEB DESCHANEL: Getting to outer space can be violent.

GUTIERREZ: “Make it like they did in the old days” became our marching orders. So I opened the window and had my director of photography go stand downstairs with his back to the wall and a handheld camera looking up toward the sky. On the street, crew people were holding a large parachute to catch the plane that I was going to throw out the window. Our model of the X-1 was 4 and a half feet long and cost $6,000. The model makers were holding their breath. The next day we showed Phil the footage and he loved it.

CALEB DESCHANEL: We used rear projection on the scenes where Yeager was trying to break the sound barrier. Phil used footage from an experimental filmmaker, Jordan Belson, who created images of moving lights that streak by you to give a representation of what it was like to get to that point just beyond something that anybody had ever done before.

PETER KAUFMAN: Belson worked in a little apartment in San Francisco. I don’t think anyone from the production went in. He did all of his effects in a little light box with smoke. He’d bring his footage in. We’d all be amazed.

GUTIERREZ: We did various kinds of shaky-cam movement to give it a sense of urgency. We attached a vibrator to the lens or a power drill to the camera mount to make it all move like crazy.

CALEB DESCHANEL: At one point I shook the camera so hard, I gave my operator a black eye.

RANDY THOM (SOUND RERECORDING MIXER): I went to Twentynine Palms Marine base to record the sound of a bomb detonating for the plane crashes. There was a test range where planes would drop bombs. Occasionally one of them wouldn’t explode. So there was this ordnance team that would defuse the bomb or explode it. I had to sign several reams of paper saying my family wouldn’t sue if I got hurt.

SHEPARD: We had a model of the X-1 in the hangar. We had these rigs that shook the hell out of us. It wasn't a simulator. It was much more primitive. It was like a milk shake apparatus.

CALEB DESCHANEL: When Yeager goes up to break the sound barrier, you look down and you see the desert beneath; we had giant sheets of butcher paper with desert scenes painted on them and somebody was pulling the paper very slowly underneath the model so it would feel like you were at 20,000 feet with the Earth moving below.

GUTIERREZ: There were some pyrotechnicians creating clouds on the ground. They had a PT boat camouflage fogger on the back of a truck. We used vaporized mineral oil to create 150-foot-high clouds on the ground. You could shut a freeway with those.

CHARTOFF: Today it would be CGI.

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CALEB DESCHANEL: There were these wonderful guys who built these models that were really beautifully detailed. These guys loved their planes. At one point when the guy was flying the X-1, he landed it too hard. It burst into pieces. He was a burly guy who had built this thing. He went over to it and picked it up. He was in tears.

KIRKLAND: The B-29 we had was the only one left in the country. It belonged to the Confederate Air Force.

THOM: I was driven out in the middle of a desert. The jeep stopped at a certain point and I stood there on a little knoll, and a hundred yards away this guy was working on something. I walked 50 yards closer, nervous. I didn’t want to surprise the guy—he was sitting on a bomb like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. He yelled to me, “Son, if I was you, I’d either come over here where I am, or I’d get another 100 yards away. Because this thing might go off. And if it does go off, it could kill ya. But if it doesn’t kill ya, you’d probably wish it had.” We marched about 100 yards away and got down behind a hill. He detonated and I recorded.

GUTIERREZ: Some of the reentry shots of the Mercury capsule, the close-ups, were shot on a stage with a 4-foot-tall model.

HARRIS: I knew that capsule inside and out. I knew what all the gauges were and everything. You’re just using your imagination. Like a kid, you know, climbing under a bunch of blankets pretending you’re going to the moon.

KIRKLAND: We shot the sequence where Gus Grissom bails from his capsule in Half Moon Bay, within sight of Mavericks.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: The question was, and is, did Grissom blow the hatch and screw the pooch, putting himself in danger, or did it go off like he claimed? I would like to believe it went off accidentally.

KIRKLAND: You think of the Pacific as being calm, but it can be ugly. We had barges anchored 15 times to Christmas, but they still moved. We needed to be able to submerge the capsule and bring it back up to do another shot. We couldn’t put it on a crane because you’d see the crane. We installed pipes underneath—you’d take the air out and it would sink, and then you’d put the air in and it would resurface.

WARD: I had a wet suit on under my flight suit, in pretty cold water. And then they picked me up, dangling by a rescue noose. It’s a tragic scene. You see Gus Grissom hanging there: almost totally defeated, like a dead fish on the end of a line, and then coming up toward the whirling helicopter blades, being pulled in.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: It was very dangerous. What a testament to Fred. Fred almost died in the water.

WARD: Grissom actually died in a prelaunch test. I heard the recording of the incident.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Gus was a fucking hero.


“We Really Had the Run of the Place.”

Fred Ward played Gus Grissom, who would later die in the launchpad fire of Apollo 1. “Gus was a fucking hero,” Kaufman says. Dan Winters

Kaufman and his crew resisted cutting-edge special effects, preferring to make the film as realistic as possible. But that quest for authenticity led to some setbacks.

WINKLER: We had trouble getting permission from the Pentagon and NASA to use their facilities. John Glenn was a senior senator and didn’t like the way he was depicted. They were talking about him running for president. He tried to stop the government from giving us cooperation. He went to the Pentagon and told them not to give us permission.

CHARTOFF: A month before we began, NASA withdrew their permission for us to shoot at their facilities. It was a disaster. I flew to Washington and met with the head of NASA. I called John Glenn’s office and arranged a meeting with them, as well. At NASA, I went in and argued that pulling our access wasn’t fair—we’re American citizens and should have the right to use the facility, and no one individual should be able to stop us. That was the only argument I could think of. The guy said, “Call me back tomorrow morning, 10 o’clock, I’ll give you an answer.” I had an appointment at noon the next day with John Glenn. The next morning I called NASA. They said, “We have no right to deprive you of use of our facilities, you’ve got them.” Then I called John Glenn’s office and canceled my appointment.

CALEB DESCHANEL: When we were at Edwards Air Force Base, we really had the run of the place. We'd be right along the runways. Some pilots would get ticked off because we were too close. But Yeager was with us a lot of the time. One pilot landed and was like, “Who the hell are you?! What's going on?! Who's in charge?!” Finally Chuck Yeager turns around, and the guy's face suddenly fell. He said, “Oh, General, I'm really sorry, I didn't realize that you were with these guys.” You could do anything you wanted at Edwards as long as Yeager was around.

SHEARER: Late in the process we were called up to the Bay Area for the shoot on the aircraft carrier.

2 The USS Coral Sea, a 45,000 ton aircraft carrier, was decommissioned in 1990.

WARD: The USS Coral Sea.2

CALEB DESCHANEL: They gave us two lectures. Both of them had to do with not getting killed. These huge cables catch the planes when they land. Every once in a while they go snap. If you're there when they snap, they just cut you in half.

GOLDBLUM: Of course, I feel at home at sea because I was a whaler before I became an actor. No, that's not true. I'd hardly been at sea. I'm not really seafaring.

SHEARER: We were going to be going out through the Golden Gate and spending the night. Jeff and I are taken down to where we're going to be bunking. It's cramped. There's water on the floor. We looked at each other and said, “Gee, I don't know about this.”

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Harry and Jeff were a little grumpy. So Peter and I took them back to my apartment. The Jeff Goldblum version of The Headless Horseman was on TV. Harry started doing riffs on Jeff. Then they were doing riffs on each other. In the early morning Harry was doing yoga in my living room. And then we got back to the set.

SHEARER: The script had me throwing up on the aircraft carrier. I had real qualms about it. I thought, man, it's going to look so fake. I didn't want to be busted with that: Yeah, the movie was great, but man, Shearer throwing up, ooh.

CALEB DESCHANEL: We sent Dennis Quaid up with a test pilot. He had a Nagra recorder in the cockpit. Phil leans over to the pilot and says, “Give him an exciting ride.” So they go up and come back down 20 minutes later, and Dennis is green. The sound guy goes in to get his Nagra, and Dennis had thrown up all over it. In the dailies, you see Dennis smiling, and then the pilot starts doing barrel rolls, and Dennis disappears from the frame. We asked Dennis about it and he said, “Oh, I had my script on the floor and I was just checking my lines.” It was total bullshit.


“We Didn’t Fly Those Planes, We Wore Them.”

Yeager's spirit of daredevilry infected the film and the cast. That, combined with shooting on active military bases, occasionally made for dangerous shooting conditions.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Chuck Yeager’s voice is the voice of “the right stuff.” Levon Helm had that voice that Tom Wolfe ascribed to Chuck Yeager, that sort of West Virginia drawl that Sam didn’t have. That’s why I had Levon as the narrator of the movie.

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SHEPARD: I’m not a Method actor. I just go for it. I could have cared less about the sound barrier. I was trying to capture something about the man. Something about his independence, something about his arrogance, something about his humility and his courage.

CALEB DESCHANEL: Sam Shepard doesn't fly; he drives everywhere he goes.

SHEPARD: I grew up in the country. A lot of country people don't like to fly, they don't like leaving the ground, but I went up with Yeager in a Piper Cub. I figured if I died while flying with the greatest pilot in the world, it would be OK.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Yeager was like the unseen father that Sam is always looking for in his plays.

SHEPARD: When I first met Chuck, he had an old Ford pickup. Out there by Edwards it's very flat, and all the streets are perpendicular to each other; he would get up to about 85 miles an hour with his cruise control, and he would hit these intersections without touching the brake. Every once in a while you'd see a car coming from a distance and it was heading right where you were heading, but Chuck would not put the brake on. He would just keep going.

BARBARA HERSHEY (GLENNIS YEAGER): Chuck was so warm and incredibly generous. He even started calling me Glennis, which really meant a lot to me. One of the terrible things about the poor wives of the test pilots was that, when they said good-bye to their husbands in the morning, they didn't know if they'd see them again that night. I would look at photos of these women and they all looked like they'd been snowed in for the winter.

YEAGER: Barbara Hershey was the spittin' image of Glennis.

HERSHEY: I asked Chuck, “Is Glennis going to come to shooting?” And he said, “Oh no, no, no, she is never going to come to Edwards again.” And I asked him, “Did it ever get to her, this terrible waiting?” And he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, did she ever get emotional?” And he said, “Oh no, no, no, not emotional. She’d throw things, but she wouldn’t get emotional.”

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SHEPARD: I asked Chuck what it was like to be an ace pilot, and he said, “Well, by the time I was 12 years old, I'd already killed 26 black bears.” He had no fear.

HERSHEY: He said, “We didn't fly those planes, we wore them.”

WOLFE: Yeager is the same wherever you put him: at a card table, at the edge of space, or at a podium. He's just Chuck Yeager. He's a totally confident man.

CALEB DESCHANEL: I went up in an F-100, an old two-seater jet, with a test pilot for Lockheed. There were times we would pull out of a dive and I'd actually lose my vision. Everything became sort of a dark reddish brown and then I'd go blind.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: We were shooting at Van Nuys and somehow Caleb and I found ourselves sitting with Dennis in a little airplane. Suddenly we noticed Dennis was talking to the control tower and the plane was moving! We said, “What the [censored]'s going on here!?” Dennis had learned how to fly during the shoot, and suddenly he takes off. Caleb and I were terrified.

KIRKLAND: I think it's the single most dangerous filming environment I've ever been in.

CALEB DESCHANEL: We put a camera in a wingtip gas tank on an F-104 to get some shots. And then other shots we did with a guy named Art Scholl, a really wonderful pilot who could do incredible maneuvers. Unfortunately, he died doing footage on Top Gun.

SHEPARD: We didn't have many accidents. One guy unfortunately got killed doing the parachute drop. The chute just didn't open.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: We didn't use any of those shots. We were all stunned. It was so connected with the theme of the movie, how dangerous all of this stuff was.


“You Can’t Get That Many Great Guys Together and Not Have a Little Bit of Fun.”

As shooting rolled on, the actors inherited the astronauts' spirit of swaggering camaraderie.

HARRIS: Tosca Café, a bar in North Beach, was the main hangout. We made some history there.

MARY JO DESCHANEL: The owner, Jeanette, was a friend of Phil's. He wanted it to be kind of like Pancho's, the bar in the movie where the test pilots hang out.

SHEPARD: After shooting all day out in the desert, I'd play pool with Yeager at Tosca.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: Scott Glenn looked like Alan Shepard; he had that flinty, tough-as-nails, competitive attitude. All the actors carried that attitude with them off camera, all through the movie. They lived in character for a long time.

SHEPARD: Eddie and me were big buddies and we liked liquor a little bit more than we should have. And yeah, we got into some fights in that bar. There was somebody sitting between us who was bad-mouthing Jeanette. And we pushed him and pulled him off the stool. And eventually you know, I don’t know, we fought.

HARRIS: Lance Henriksen and I were at the Holiday Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf. I had a couple beers and I got on a luggage cart. I was skateboarding on it or scootering it out through the front doors. It went off a curb and I went flying, smacked my face on the ground. I had a major black eye—and had to do a scene where I was in my room at night. And so Caleb had to do a thing where the moon’s coming through a window lighting up one side of my face and the other side of my face is totally in the darkness, because I was really banged up.

CALEB DESCHANEL: Ed shows up, and I'm like, what am I going to do? The set was built, and I actually had to have them reverse it so I could have the light coming in from another side so you couldn't see his black eye.

HARRIS: Phil suggested maybe I was drinking too much. I think he was probably right.

SHEPARD: You can't get that many great guys together and not have a little bit of fun.


“Can a Movie Help Make a President?”

Director Philip Kaufman: “I really wanted the film to be sold as about ‘the right stuff’: men in leather jackets, the cowboy thing.” Dan Winters

The film's October 1983 release happened to coincide with the presidential candidacy of John Glenn, which presented both an opportunity and a challenge.

CHARTOFF: I was in New York and called Tom Wolfe and said I wanted to meet. And he said, “Come on over to the house for breakfast.” At 8:30 in the morning Tom was dressed in his whites. We were eating grapefruits. He managed to get the slices out without soiling himself. And I said, “Tom, we think we’re going to change the ending a little bit. Yours felt a little bit rushed.” I couldn’t have said that to any writer but I could to him, because we had this long relationship. He said, “Well, after working on the book for years, my wife said to me that if I didn’t finish the book in a month she was going to divorce me.”

WOLFE: The Right Stuff was going to be a book that went from the Mercury program in the early ’60s to the Apollo space mission in 1975. I had just finished the Mercury section and I was starting on Gemini, and my wife came in and said, “I’ve got great news for you.” I said, “What’s that?” She said, “You finished the book!” I had to write three books to finance this reporting stint.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: I was very fussy about nobody seeing the movie before it premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. There were one or two prints of it. We were setting up for the screening and some friends went on a White House tour. As they were passing through, they saw some film cans with The Right Stuff stenciled on. Reagan had gotten a copy, secretly.

HARRIS: There was a big picture of me on the cover of Newsweek: “Can a Movie Help Make a President?” It gave a much different impression of what the movie was about.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: The movie suffered from that approach. I really wanted the film to be sold as about “the right stuff”: men in leather jackets, their connection to the cowboy thing. But somebody somewhere at the studio wanted to go back to that magazine-story approach. The movie should have been marketed as tougher and more mysterious than that magazine cover.

PETER KAUFMAN: With the help of Dolby technicians, we helped create new standards for the use of Dolby sound.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: When the rockets took off, the theater would rumble. I looked down the row at the premier and Kissinger was sitting there and I said, “I want to see those chins vibrating.” When the rockets launched, I went up in the projection room and I said, “Louder.” I went back down and the whole fucking theater was shaking. The chins were vibrating.

CALEB DESCHANEL: Phil wanted the movie to be really visceral. He always said that he wanted to pass out vomit bags at the screenings. He really wanted people to have the experience of what it was like in the X-1 cockpit or the Friendship capsule.

LADD: The film is a classic, but I think of it as a box office flop at the same time.

3 Best film editing, best sound, best sound effects editing, and best music (original score).

WINKLER: We won four Oscars.3 But we thought it would be a really, really big moneymaker. It wasn't.

LUCAS: The pivotal movie before The Right Stuff was 2001; that was like floating down a river. The Right Stuff had more of a documentary edge. It's seamless—the standard until Gravity.

SHEARER: It's a stunning piece of work.

MARK KELLY (ASTRONAUT): I read the book in eighth or ninth grade and saw the movie as a sophomore in college. I’ve seen it a dozen times. It got me excited about the space program. I ended up flying four times on the space shuttle over a period of 10 years. And I certainly remember the first time, at about Mach 15, as we rolled heads up I looked over my right shoulder, and that’s when I saw Earth as a whole planet for the first time. That’s a pretty amazing thing to see.

PHILIP KAUFMAN: The last line an actor says is Dennis Quaid's. He's going up after he's launched, total grace under pressure. “The sun is coming through the window now,” he says. “Oh Lord, what a heavenly light.”

Posted by: warchilin66
on Saturday 08 November 2014

Think You Drink a Lot?
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Think You Drink a Lot?

Granted the topic isn't specifically business related -- although I could argue that since work is part of life and therefore anything lifestyle-related is relevant -- but the findings of this study are too amazing not to share.

I promise you'll say, "Wait … what?!"

First there was a pretty dry (intentional, albeit weak, pun) survey on alcohol consumption in the U.S. conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Then Philip Cook performed a little data analysis, broke down alcohol consumption per week into deciles, and voila! dull is now fascinating. (For more info and a handy chart check out Christopher Ingraham's article in The Washington Post.)

Let's check out Philip's results:
•The bottom three deciles, or 30% of Americans, say they don't drink at all. That figure could be a little high since some people probably say they don't drink but occasionally do … but let's go with it.
•The fourth decile consumes .02 drinks per week. Since it's likely no one is doing shots from eyedroppers that's about a drink a year. (Birthday? New Years?)
•The fifth decile consumes .14 drinks per week. That's about seven drinks a year. Maybe that office party you're forced to attend and try to make the best of. (Or am I the only one who has done that?)
•The sixth decile consumes .63 drinks per week. We're still only up to a little over half a drink a week, or 32 drinks a year.

That means 60% of Americans age 18 and over consumer half a drink or less a week. Surprising? (It was to me; based on the relative footprint of the beer and wine section at the grocery store I assumed the number would be higher.)

Now it gets more interesting:
•The seventh decile consumes 2.17 drinks per week. More, sure, but not a lot. If the activities depicted in the average beer commercial are any indication that means people are climbing mountains, surfing, riding the range, or hanging with their best buds at low-key yet somehow super cool places once or twice a week.
•The eighth decile consumes 6.25 drinks per week. Finally we're close to a drink a day or a fair number of drinks on weekends. If you have a nightly glass of wine or beer you're in the top 30% of adults in terms of alcohol consumption. While one drink a day isn't much -- especially since some health experts say a glass of red wine a day can reduce the risk of heart disease -- that still means this decile drinks more than 70% of Americans.
•The ninth decile consumes 15.28 drinks per week. Two drinks a day, top 20% in terms of alcohol consumption. If this is you, you're knocking on the door of the top 10%.

But let's say you've never met a list you didn't try to top and your goal is to break into the tenth decile so you can be in the top 10% of American drinkers.

Here's what it takes to join that club:
•The tenth decile consumes 73.85 drinks per week. Yep. Over 73 drinks a week. That's 10 drinks a day. Forget a glass or two of wine with dinner; you need to drink roughly two bottles of wine with dinner. Forget a couple of beers; you need to pound down close to a 12-pack of beer every day to qualify. (Tell me your bladder -- and your wallet -- aren't cringing at the thought.)

Some basic conclusions:
•The median consumption is 3 drinks per week among those who do drink (tossing out the 30% who don't drink at all.) That means...
•The top 10% of drinkers account for more than half of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. And that means...
•According to Cook, "... the heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic beverage industry. If the top decile could be induced to curb their consumption to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile) then total ethanol sales would fall by 60%."

Maybe you're not surprised by the last point; power users are critical to the health of many businesses. The top 20 to 30% of purchasers/users often generate 70 to 80% of sales for many products/services. So it makes some sense that "power drinkers" make up such a huge proportion of alcohol sales.

But still. One out of ten adults consume more than 10 drinks a day? (Take that, D. Draper and R. Sterling.)

Please note I'm in no way judging. I don't care how much anyone drinks. Whether people drink, or how much they drink, is definitely their business.

I just think it's amazing how important the top 10% of drinkers are to the alcoholic beverage industry, and how big the jump in consumption is between the 80th percentile and the 90th.

Posted by: Slinger
on Saturday 08 November 2014

Forbes Magazine of Sustainability
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Forbes Magazine of Sustainability


I want to start a yearly magazine publication that will spotlight manufacturing firms worldwide that are "sustainability champions." I need volunteer collaborators, preferably relevant organization(s), to help with organizing and mobilizing resources. My sustainability criteria are based on the principles of the biosphere - five of them used by the biosphere to sustain life in all its diverse and complex glory.

The five principles are readily applicable to manufacturing firms because on the surface, the biosphere is a mighty manufacturing enterprise. However, since sustainability is crucial in all sectors, I wish to extend these principles to other sectors as well. Thus, these principles would need to be adapted to other sectors' contexts. Therefore, the first step would be this adapting. We could spotlight only manufacturing firms for a start, and include other sectors in subsequent editions.

The goal is to demonstrate that sustainability pays: It has economic benefit. The target is to identify the "Stars," "Super Stars," and "Five Stars," among manufacturing firms (and firms in other sectors) world wide. The firms could be small, medium, or large. There are five sustainability criteria, a firm needs to meet three of them, including recycling, to qualify as a "Star." The aim is to have five Stars, two Super Stars, and one Five Star every year, depending on whether three, four, or five of the criteria, respectively, are met. The Stars and Super Stars could be less. Also, it's possible not to find any Five Star at all in a given year (but hopefully this would not happen).

The Sustainability criteria are:

1). Simple and Non-toxic materials

2). Power Autonomy

3). Recycling

4). Knowledge Economics

5). Providence

In order to make the publication realistic (and not another lofty green activism), the sustainability measures must also improve the bottom-line of a prospective star (else, the firm would not be considered). Also, there has to be healthy work culture in place

I believe this much info. suffices for now. If any organization is interested, we will discuss further and I will elaborate on my plans for the publication.

The publication would be to sustainability what Forbes Magazine is to entrepreneurs.

I would also greatly appreciate referrals to organizations that are both relevant and interested.

Best regards,

Tobechi Okwuonu, Founder,
Venture Cell Business Services,
Regina, Canada,

Copyright @ 2014 Tobechi Okwuonu, Venture Cell Business Services. All Rights Reserved.

Posted by: Ken
on Saturday 08 November 2014

Friday 14 November 2014

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Think you've been on some epic road trips? You've got nothing on Google: the Mountain View company just announced that it's taking a 3G-equipped bus on a year-long tour of Bangladesh. The program, simply dubbed "Google Bus Bangladesh," is an educational initiative that aims to expose 500,000 students to new tools and web applications that can help them start new businesses. The bus will visit over 500 campuses (at 35 locations) over the next 12-months to lead short seminars and teach students how to use their new schools on the Android platform. Locals seem excited, and have already taken to the Bus' Google Plus page to make sure their school is a part of the tour -- and to share pictures of the internet-connected bus en route, of course.
Posted by: Ken
on Saturday 08 November 2014

Thursday 13 November 2014

DRONE ! The flying robot-cameras
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The flying robot-cameras represent a huge savings for production – seven companies are FAA approved

Hollywood is facing the attack of the drones.

The first FAA-approved flight with a drone lifted off earlier this week in the hills of Pasadena and now everyone from major studio executives to indie producers have their eyes trained upward to be next in the air.

“It's been overwhelming,” said Tony Carmean, partner and producer at Aerial MOB, which conducted the historic drone flight to shoot an Acura commercial. “Just in the last two weeks we've met with Sony, we've met with Warner Bros. – we've met with probably half of the major studios. The other studios are just a matter of arranging time.”

Also read: YouTube's 25 Biggest Stars (Photos)

For filmmakers, drones are a cool new tool. But drones also represent a huge cost savings for productions that are seeking images from on high, as low as a third of the cost of traditional transport like helicopters.

Seven companies have been approved to use drones in movie, television and advertising production. In addition to Aerial MOB, Astraeus Aerial, Snaproll Media, Vortex Aerial, Pictorvision, HeliVideo Productions and Flying-Cam now have the right to use drones for films, TV and commercials on closed sets.

Video provided by Vortex Aerial

“Sony opened up Soundstage 20 on their lot where we came in and did a demonstration for not only the production safety folks but also for the production people. Up to this point they haven't been able to use this technology,” Carmean said.

“I've done 10 quotes for feature films this month,” he noted.

Also read: Filmmakers Get FAA Approval for Drones to Hit Skies

While filming with drones was legal in other countries and was used on productions such as “Skyfall” and “Harry Potter,” the FAA prohibited the use of drones for commercial U.S. filming until the ban was lifted in September. The government agency is still scrutinizing the process.

“The FAA was on site,” said Carmean regarding the Acura shoot. “We sat down with them for two hours and went over our paperwork that we had to file with the FAA in D.C. and it was meticulous. And then they stayed on set watching us perform what we do. They walked away saying ‘we really have no issues at all.'”

But even though the FAA said “all clear” the major film studios are moving cautiously.

“At that level I think it's going to be a little bit slow development. No doubt they're very excited by it,” Carmean said. “But as a studio they're legal exposure is a lot greater than a small production company. Their lawyers would not let them touch the technology until it was deemed safe by the FAA.”

Also read: Disney Files Patents for Use of Theme Park Drones

Considerations regarding the unions is one of the issues at hand.

“Not only are our phones ringing off the hooks for jobs from potential clients, but also people wanting to work for us,” said Carmean. “People at the union level, local 600 and local 80, they're being very open. They've made it very appealing to be in the union. But there's a lot of little details going on behind the scenes that have to be figured out. That's why the delay in the movie stuff. But I'm thinking in the next 30 days it's going to pick up in a big way.”

Photo Credit: Tony Carmean

For their part, the leadership at International Cinematographers Guild is excited by the potential of filming with drones.

“I can go back in my filmography and say, wow if I'd only had a drone here,” Guild President Steven Poster told TheWrap. “They're an exciting possibility for visual storytelling. It's always terrific to get a new tool like that.”

So what has Hollywood flying high on drones? Savings.

Drone V. Helicopter

The day rate for a helicopter can range from $20,000 to $40,000 with crew. Operating a drone with crew can cut costs down to a rate that ranges between $9,000 to $15,000, according to Carmean. Elements that affect drone day rates pends the camera, aircraft, crew and location.

“The possibility of making shots that you couldn't do before is extremely exciting. A director and a director of photography can say I want this shot in a movie and we can get it without a helicopter,” said Poster.

“The insurance; it's a lot cheaper to insure a 25-pound drone than it is to insure a three-ton helicopter,” Chris Schuster, CEO and lead drone pilot at Vortex Aerial told TheWrap.

Drone Ocean
Photo Credit: Tony Carmean

Productions can also cut costs by staying local.

Also read: 'RoboCop' Director Jose Padilha on Sony's Politicized Remake: 'It's About Drones'

“There's been productions that have gone outside the country specifically for the use of drones. Now they won't have to do that,” said Carmean.

The drone crew's speed and nimbleness are assets as well, they often operate with a team of two to four members.

“We have a very small footprint that's very efficient. We work very fast and production just loves that,” said Schuster. ”They want to get in and get their shots and move on to the next item.”

And the drone can help eliminate multiple setups during the shoot day.

“A lot of people think when they think drones of the big, wide aerial shots,” said Carmean. “That's not the beauty of what this offers. The beauty is low-altitude cinematography. Think of that space in-between jibs and full-sized aircraft. There's a big area that's not covered. We're able to do that. In a lot of ways we can replace dollies, jibs and cranes.”

Still, it may take a year or so before the industry figures out when to use the new technology.

“It's like when the Steadicam came out, everybody wanted to use it for everything,” said Poster. ”I guarantee you that probably within the next year somebody is going to try and do an entire movie on a drone. But eventually it will become just the right tool for the right job.”

Posted by: Slinger
on Saturday 08 November 2014

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More UK viewers are choosing to access VOD content on their main TV rather than laptops, tablets or other multiscreen devices thanks to the impact of connected TV devices. The trend is partly thanks to connected TV services like Now TV from Sky (which comes with its own attractively priced Roku-style streaming set-top device for delivering online video to the television set) and partly thanks to the aggressive roll-out of Internet connected boxes from all Pay TV providers in the UK and an increase in TV-based support for content subscription services (e.g. you can sign-up to a subscription VOD service and then access it through an app on what would once have been called a ‘traditional’ TV platform and is now a hybrid broadcast/streaming platform).

The impact of connected TV devices on VOD viewing has been highlighted by figures from the latest Mediabug tracker. This is a bi-annual survey of 3,000 UK consumers maintained by the research firm Decipher. Pointing to more TV-based support for content subscription services, the company notes that YouView recently joined Virgin Media offering Netflix and EE has joined the market with their EE TV box, containing support for catch-up services and subscription content from Wuaki.

Mediabug Wave 5 (the latest survey results) show that both PCs and tablets lost share of online VOD viewing (5% and 2% respectively) while Apple TV (+1%), Now TV (+1%), Chromecast (+1%) and Smart TVs (+2%) all saw an increase in share of viewing. Dr. Hamish McPharlin, Director of Decipher Media Research declares: ‘Our findings really show how TV connected devices are making their mark.” McPharlin adds that, right now, it is the main TV that is attracting the VOD usage from these devices, as that is where the connected set-top boxes are located. He reckons secondary TVs (like in the kitchen) do have a role to play in the migration of VOD from portable devices (e.g. tablets, PC) to the television screen but not enough of them are connected at this stage. “In 18 months or so, it could be a different story,” he suggests.

Decipher declares: “Mediabug consistently demonstrates that despite the popularity of handheld devices, video consumption is enjoyed mainly in the home. What we are seeing is a realisation of the desire to enjoy video consumption, from an increasing number of sources, on the best screen in the house’.

Some operators have been reporting that tablets are increasingly being treated as a substitute for a secondary television once they have offered multiscreen services. Based on all the Decipher research (and not just the latest Mediabug tracker), does McPharlin think secondary televisions (connected or not connected) will be made redundant by video on handhelds? “Our data is not yet conclusive on whether tablets or secondary TVs would ‘win’ a battle of the second screen. I believe that both will continue to have a role, particularly as it appears that TV operators such as Sky and Virgin will continue to develop the technology in their set-top boxes to reach out to both types of devices in the home.”

One impact that tablets are having, confirmed by Decipher’s consumer research, is an increase in television viewing at the expense of other media. “Our research indicates that tablets, rather than taking up TV viewing time [from a television screen], are taking up the time of other activities, such as book reading,” McPharlin reveals. “Many times we have observed that consumers have developed a behaviour of watching a programme on their tablet in bed before turning the light out. Previously they would have spent this time reading a chapter of a book. Secondary screens and tablets simply enable more scenarios and more rooms to be activated to viewing, whether planned or unplanned.”

The Mediabug Wave 5 data has good news for BSkyB, finding that when it comes to watching video, its Now TV boxes are the most frequently used OTT boxes in the UK. 20% of Now TV owners use their boxes daily. Now TV “continues a steady rise in subscriptions, adding 1.2% [in the last six months] to finish with 4% of online homes”. To put that in context, Netflix also continued its strong growth, mostly amongst Pay TV homes, and has added another 3% of UK online homes, bringing it to a total of 16%. Amazon Prime is now in 7% of online homes.

Meanwhile Sky On Demand is the most prevalent connected TV VOD service overall, helped by the fact that 29% of online UK homes now have a Sky+HD box [satellite broadcast, DVR, Internet connection] and that figure is up 3% in the six months since the last survey. As a result, 21% of online UK homes are connected to Sky on Demand. Meanwhile, Smart TVs are in 24% of UK online homes, with 19% of online homes using a Smart TV that is actually connected (this figure has been growing steadily for a number of years).
Mediabug also shows that those who use Smart TVs for VOD have a high frequency of usage, showing that they have a high satisfaction rate.

Posted by: Slinger
on Saturday 08 November 2014

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Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala had dreamed about the Flying Wing airplane since 1981, the summer the two middle schoolers saw its propellers shred the head off a German muscleman in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Thirty-three years later, they built it: a 78-foot-long, 4½-ton, gray-green beast that loomed like a frozen vulture midflight. It was the world's only full-scale replica of the Flying Wing. And now they had to blow it up. "I feel kind of sick," Strompolos sighs. "But it has to be done — and it has to be done for real."

After three decades, they were finally wrapping the longest film shoot in history.

As children in Mississippi, Chris and Eric had made a pact. They'd film a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Chris, a chipper, chubby idea guy, would star; Eric, who at 11 was the older and steadier of the two, would direct. They bought a spiral notebook and filled it with sketches and plans. Chris titled it Raiders of the Lost Ark: Kids Version. Then he scribbled out the second half and wrote The New Version. Age would not be a factor.

"We didn't want it to look cute, we didn't want it to be 'Aw, that's adorable,' " Eric says. "We wanted it to be good."

The boys thought filming would take a summer. It took eight years.

The first summer, they storyboarded and gathered props: a jacket, a hat, a whip. The second summer, they got a camera, found a Marion, enlisted cameraman and effects wizard Jayson Lamb — a classmate hired after he MacGyvered a passable corpse from Brillo pads, caulk and brown paint — and shot the opening jungle scene and the flaming bar fight.

Just before school started, crises struck: Eric's parents announced they were getting a divorce, their Marion announced she was moving to Alaska, and Jayson realized he'd screwed up the camcorder settings and burned a tiny A into the corner of the frame.

Summer three, they started over.

When Raiders needed a monkey, they used Chris' dog, Snickers. When they needed a new Marion, they wooed a pretty girl from church to give up her summers and hang with the geeks. (Says Chris, "I thought she was cool because she smoked cigarettes. Capri Lights.") She was Chris' first kiss and they flirted until she ditched him for an extra playing a Nazi. When they needed an Egyptian tomb, they stenciled hieroglyphics in Eric's basement. When the script called for a bar fire, they poured 36 bottles of rubbing alcohol on themselves and the cellar walls and lit a match. (That move got production grounded for a year.)

Eric, who doubled as the opportunistic French archaeologist Belloq, singed his hair. Before shooting wrapped, he'd also broken an arm and been rushed to the hospital after Jayson used industrial plaster to make a mold of his face. (The ER doctors had to break him out with sledgehammers and chain saws.)

Astonishingly, Chris completed the film unscathed — a wonder, given that he did every one of Indiana Jones' stunts without Harrison Ford's innate athleticism (or four stunt doubles).

"I'm a stubby Greek guy, and he's an angular, 6-foot, 1-inch movie star," Strompolos admits today. But in front of the cameras he was a natural, his puppy fat balanced out by his strong jawline, loose grace and total commitment.

"For Chris, it was wanting to be Indiana Jones and saving the girl. For me, it was, 'OK, what would a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark look like?' " Eric says. "Tracing the footsteps of the master — what a great learning tool."

The boys built giant test boulders from papier-mâché, chicken wire, bamboo sticks and a giant cable spool, until they figured out Fiberglas was best. They filmed scenes in alleys and dirt quarries and alligator-infested rivers, enlisted every neighborhood kid they knew as an extra, dragged Chris behind a truck, and rigged their own explosives from gunpowder Jayson bought at Mom and Pop's General Store and Gun Shop, even though he was so short he could barely reach over the counter. After a three-year letter-writing campaign, they even convinced a naval captain to loan them a battleship and submarine.

It sounds like fun, and sometimes it was. More often, it was stressful.

"I was haunted by a sense of dread," Eric recalls. " 'None of this counts if we don't finish.' "

When they edited the footage during the graveyard shift at the local news station, where Chris' mother was a news anchor, they made peace with the way that the actors had visibly skipped in age with each scene change: 13 to 17 to 16 to 14. It was as though Indy were leaping in and out of a wormhole. It would have to do.

Still, the most amazing thing about Raiders: The Adaptation isn't that the friends conceived of it. It's that they completed it.


They couldn't get a plane.

Without one, Eric and Chris were forced to leave out Raiders of the Lost Ark's six-minute, most complicated action scene. It goes like this: Indiana Jones and Marion break out of an archaeological site called the Well of Souls, where they've been left to rot by the Nazis. Jones spots a Nazi plane — the Flying Wing — and guesses the Ark of the Covenant is aboard. He conks a mechanic and wearily boxes a second, shirtless, macho man.

Screenshot from the original Raiders of the Lost Ark airplane fight scene Screenshot from the original Raiders of the Lost Ark airplane fight scene

Meanwhile, Marion gets trapped inside the cockpit while the plane starts spinning in circles. Soldiers attack. Marion machine-guns them down, punctures a fuel truck and accidentally ignites a barrel of dynamite. As fire crawls toward the plane, Indiana Jones is knocked to the ground just before a propeller grinds up the German's head. Jones frees Marion and the two heroes sprint to safety as the Flying Wing explodes.

Even if they could have borrowed a plane, what madman would have let children blow it sky-high?

Jayson suggested they use miniatures. Eric, a literalist, refused. If Spielberg had used a real plane, so would they.

Then they realized a weakness in the script. Narratively, the Flying Wing scene was pointless. The Ark was never on the plane. Indiana Jones and Marion had murdered a dozen people for no reason at all. In fact, Raiders: The Adaptation could cut from the Well of Souls escape to Jones chasing down the Ark on horseback without missing a beat.

The young filmmakers wrapped without it. By then, the high school seniors were barely speaking, thanks to a fight over a girl and the sense that the whole thing was kind of embarrassing. They left Mississippi for college and moved on with their lives.

Eventually, Chris and Eric both wound up in L.A. Strompolos formed a rock band and lost much of his 20s to meth; Zala became a manager at a video game company. Raiders was a goof, a childhood fixation stashed away on a VHS tape, given no more importance than the Ark itself, left languishing in a warehouse at the end of the real movie. Their film remained forgotten for 25 years.

Posted by: Slinger
on Saturday 08 November 2014

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Is planning really necessary? Yes. And no.

Yes, because everything you do must have a plan. Particularly if you’re running a business. You can’t just make an investment or jump into a new project without a reason. You have to have a long-term objective in mind and a plan for achieving that objective. Smart business people always have plans. They hate surprises. They want to make sure they’ve thought through all the options. But planning only goes so far. At some point, you’re going to have to actually execute and take a chance.

Related: Taking Stock of Feelings to Make Business Decisions

Take, for example, Greg Koch, the co-founder and CEO of California-based Stone Brewing Company. Koch and his partner started the company back in 1996 and have grown it to around 900 employees. They’ve certainly benefited from the recent wave of popularity for micro breweries around the country, something that no one could have planned. A few years ago, Koch decided to expand to Europe and become among the first, if not the first, American micro breweries to do so. So he made his plans.

Koch hired a business-development person whose sole job was to find the right place for the company’s first European operations. Over a four-year period they visited, together and separately, over 130 sites in nine countries. They solicited local search firms and consultants in the process. They met with regional authorities, ate unfamiliar foods, watched bad TV and sat on airplanes for hundreds of hours.

Ultimately, the company settled on the perfect place: a historical building right smack in the center of Berlin, Germany. Koch doesn’t speak German. He’s only been to Berlin a few times. But work is already underway. People are being hired. Millions are being spent. The facility, a combination brewery and restaurant, is expected to be up and running by the end of 2015.

This is a big move for any company. And such a significant investment must have taken a lot of planning, right? Of course. But the actual decision to pull the trigger? That was nothing more than, well, a hunch.

“Analysis can be a great thing,” Koch tells me. “But in the end you have to go with your gut.”

Sure, he’s been running his micro brewery for almost two decades, but he claims he’s no beer-industry expert.

Related: Richard Branson on Envisioning Your Business's Future

“Market studies are a waste of time,” he says. “Focus groups and surveys and public opinions may be OK for some but not for my business.”

There’s no data to support whether Koch will succeed in Germany. In the end he’s taking a leap of faith. He’s relying on his instincts. He’s taking a risk. And this is what successful entrepreneurs do -- they plan and then they just execute.

Koch knows he could be wrong. He’s made plenty of mistakes in the past. But luckily, nothing too large. He’s taking a big risk on the Berlin location, but he’s not betting the farm. No smart business owner would do that.

“Planning is important," he says. "But in the end, it’s tenacity, force of will, intelligence and a little bit of luck that makes the difference.”

He’s right. Planning is important. But some business owners can never seem to get past the planning stage. They analyze. They research. They pore over the numbers. They hem. They haw. They try to consider all the angles, all the potential problems. And, in many cases, this just becomes counter-productive.

People who grow their companies are taking risks all the time. They’re thinking, they’re getting data where they can, they’re analyzing -- but in the end they execute. And they know they’re doing so without all the information they need. But that’s OK. In the end it’s instinct. It’s a feeling. It’s a gamble. And no amount of planning will make up for that.

Posted by: Patty Pinkstaff
on Saturday 08 November 2014

Money for start ups !!
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Todd Spangler

NY Digital Editor


Scopely, a mobile-gaming network, has raised $35 million in Series A financing led by Evolution Media Partners and Highland Capital Partners as the startup eyes expanding deals with Hollywood players.

Evolution Media Partners is a joint venture of TPG Growth, Participant Media and Evolution Media Capital (formed in partnership with CAA). Also participating in the round were Take-Two Interactive Software (publisher of “Grand Theft Auto” videogame franchise); Knoll Ventures, run by former AT&T CEO David Dorman, and existing investors Greycroft, The Chernin Group and Sands Capital Ventures. The funding brings Scopely, which has about 100 employees, to $43.5 million raised to date.

“We want to power the HBO of mobile and interactive entertainment,” said Scopely co-founder and CEO Walter Driver (pictured, above). With the Evolution Media and Highland backing, Driver hopes to “build bridges with intellectual-property holders and celebrities” to expand Scopely’s slate of games.

Other companies in the mobile gaming space include King Digital Entertainment (“Candy Crush”), Rovio (“Angry Birds”), Glu Mobile (“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood”), Electronic Arts and Zynga.

But Driver said Scopely’s model is different: The company develops games with both its internal studio and third-party game developers, and offers partners a range of services including distribution, player growth and retention, live operations and monetization. Six of Scopely’s games — including its first release, Mini Golf MatchUp — have hit the top five most-downloaded free iPhone apps in Apple’s iTunes App Store rankings and the company has more than 35 million players.

“For game developers, having access to that network and global distribution is very valuable,” Driver said.

With the funding, Rick Hess, co-founder and co-managing partner of EMC and Evolution Media Partners, Highland’s Andy Hunt (co-founder of Warby Parker) will join Scopely’s board. They’ll join Driver and Scopely co-founder and chief strategy officer Eytan Elbaz.

“Scopely is in a unique position to emerge as a leading network for touchscreen entertainment,” Hess said in a statement. “As we look at the new media space, Scopely stands out with its stellar team, successful games and ability to bring hot entertainment franchises to mobile.”

Scopely, based in Culver City, Calif., was founded in 2011. Scopely’s games are free to download; users can buy in-app currency and the startup also sells advertising.

The company’s recent executive hires include: COO Javier Ferreira (previously Disney Interactive’s SVP of worldwide publishing); chief revenue officer Tim O’Brien (former head of biz dev for Disney Interactive); Randy Sazaki, VP of engineering (previously with from Burstly and JibJab); and JC Bornaghi, VP of production and operations (from EA).

Posted by: Ken
on Saturday 08 November 2014

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