Oscar, the Little Golden Guy
On Valentines Day 2004 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was kind enough to award me an Oscar. This is my third Academy Award. Over the last few decades I have written software and designed electronic systems that are now widely used in motion picture production. This was an auspicious year to receive this award since the final Lord of the Rings film swept the Oscars that night. The effects artists involved in those three films used my inventions as best they have ever been used. It was genuinely gratifying to stand beside them at these ceremonies.
Up at top-left, the smug looking guy to the right is me, that's my old friend Alex Funke to the left. This is Alex's third Oscar win. Three decades earlier Alex and I worked together at the Charles Eames Office, along with Jeannine Oppewal who was nominated for art direction that night. Alex directed the superb miniature effects in the Lord of the Rings films, and later on King Kong. Billy Crystal was MC. Jennifer Garner was presenter for the Scientific and Technical category.
The Scientific and Technical Awards Ceremony is a separate event, that year held at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Pasadena. It is modeled after the original Academy Awards Ceremonies of the 1930's. The awards are presented after a leisurely dinner and some entertainment. It's a hugely enjoyable and relaxed event. There's plenty of socializing with old friends. Without the tyrannical 45 second countdown timer faced by those at the main ceremonies, I took the opportunity to thank by name the long list of motion control operators who had made my products look good on the set. Acceptance speeches are very nervous-making and I forgot a few worthy names. Sorry to those I missed, I didn't do it on purpose.
Those who win Oscars at the SciTech Ceremony also participate as honored guests in the Oscar Night broadcast a few weeks later. This gives one the huge advantage of arriving at the ceremonies with their Oscar a given fact, rather than an nervous gaggle of butterflies in the stomach.
To understand Andy Warhol's "famous for 15 minutes" quip, a non-celebrity such as myself need only win an Oscar. It was a little heady to Google my name and come back with tens of thousands of hits, thanks mainly to the Academy's tireless PR department. The attention of reporters and photographers was unrelenting for several weeks. The Scientific and Technical winners are announced almost two months before the nominations, and are easy targets for Oscar hungry reporters at the start of Oscar Season.
At the Oscar Night Ceremonies the adrenaline-rich experience of being run through the backstage reporter and photographer gauntlets could never be adequately described. The picture above at center right gives you a participant's eye view from the stage. One of those gray heads just right of center is mine, the girl in white to the left is Renee Zellweger, who presented me with my second Academy Award.
Images on this page copyright ABC and AMPAS, used with permission.