Wednesday, July 07, 2010


As anyone who reads my work is aware, I have a great affection for the Q&A format. For me it represents an extremely important point of cultural contact and a unique zone of interaction between film talent and fans essential to an enhanced cinematic experience. But, even I recognize that—as avidly as I aim to transcribe my favorite sessions—there are built-in restrictions to the format. The time allowed for a session, for example, or the quality of questions asked have everything to do with a successful Q&A session. Then again, conveying an interviewee's personality, character, or even the gist of a rambling inquiry pitched by an audience member are challenges for me as a writer. Frequently—though not always—I've seen Q&A sessions being filmed but have rarely seen these taped sessions made available to the public. That fact alone became one of the driving inspirations for my transcribing Q&A sessions so that an institution's archival impulse expands out to the public sector. That being said, however, I admit that I am not too keen on watching interviews or Q&A sessions and am partial to the written word, for reasons too numerous to account for here; but, in the instance of someone as fascinating and articulate as Special Effects maestro Douglas Trumbull, I make exception.

Trumbull joined TCM weekend host Ben Mankiewicz on stage at the Egyptian Theater after the screening of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey at TCM's first-ever Classic Film Festival in Hollywood earlier this year, I struggled to capture the breadth of his intelligence and to convey the many ideas he proposed; several which, admittedly, I barely comprehended. I've received favorable response to that transcript; but, perhaps one of the most welcome responses came this morning in an email from Evening Class reader Eugene Mamut who forwarded a clip that enumerates Douglas Trumbull's past, present and future enterprises, including his career in film and simulation technologies, his love for astronomy, his more than 23 patents, and—most intriguingly—his fix solution to the BP oil spill. And, believe me, that's just the tip of the iceberg. One of the sweetest bits of trivia was discovering that his father was the technician who slapped the apples out of Dorothy's hands in The Wizard of Oz, as well as dangling the Cowardly Lion's tail by a wire. My thanks to Eugene for sharing this taped session with me, which achieves what a written transcript cannot by way of supplemented visuals that help convey some of Trumbull's more complex explorations.

In tandem with this clip—which I avidly encourage folks to watch—is
Trumbull's YouTube demonstration of a vacuum-sealed manifold cap that he suggests might remedy the BP oil spill disaster.

Cross-published on

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