Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sometimes Dreams Do Come True

I think that photo says it all. I wasn't the only one smiling like that. Yesterday at the Byrd Theater in Richmond, Va., there was a long line of beaming film fans, all patiently waiting for their turn to get a few books or DVDs signed and shake the hand of Ray Harryhausen. Everyone from large, rough punk rockers to graying middle-aged business types were reduced to fawning ten year olds as they got to spend a minute or two meeting the man himself. I was no different, thrilled and honored to shake his hand and thank him for all the inspiration that his work has provided. His fantastic work is part of why I became an artist. I want to thank the organizers of The James River Film Festival for arranging to bring Mr. Harryhausen to their fine festival. He was featured in two events on Saturday and provided to be a charming and unpretentious speaker, regaling the crowd with many wonderful stories including hanging out with his childhood pals Ray Bradbury and Forry Ackerman, working with his mentor Willis O'Brien on "Mighty Joe Young" and many others. The only disappointment during the second event was the theater projectionist inability to overcome some technical glitch that resulted in a mostly empty screen while the interviewer scrambled to try and move the program along at what was often a frustrating and confusing pace. The clips that were shown were often not insync with the discussion and were silent, with Mr. Harryhausen commenting multiple times about how the scenes are more effective if you could hear the music. I was looking forward to seeing clips from all (or most) of his films, particularly those that I haven't seen in a long time like "First Men In The Moon" and "Valley of the Gwangi , but as it turned out, we didn't even get to see one clip from any of the Sinbad films. No matter, what I'll always remember is getting to listen to Mr. Harryhausen tell his tales and getting to shake the hand of the man that created so many fantastic worlds for us to enjoy.