Luck or something else


Luck or something else?




Email to Al Sullivan



            Yesterday, I ranted and raved about luck or talent directing my life as an artist, I left out another prevalent theory among some of my closer associates concerning Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and my delving into their temple of doom.

            What if most if not all of what I accomplished had nothing to do with my own ability at all, but rather came as favor of the gods.

            Dave Hoffman, an emerging media mogul with his cable access TV show, suggests the supposed mistaken photo in the New York Post for which I have been credited may not have been a mistake at all. While Paramount and Lord Spielberg might well have agreed to see me get credit, they did not want my photographs seeping out into the legitimate press so substituted a photograph of their own that closely resembled mine.

            This theory, of course, deflates my ego-tickling presumption that some of my photographs were of good enough quality and close to the vision Spielberg had for the set as to be mistaken for something done by Spielberg’s marvelous staff photographer.

            While I still cling desperately to my own theory, Hoffman’s theory fits into a grander scheme put forth by another media mogul, Science Fiction radio host Jim Freund, who believes I was issued special blessings when it came to War of the Worlds. In this theory, I became the chosen conduit for a kind of underground promotion of the picture. By giving me select bits of information, Spielberg and Paramount began an internet stir that eventually created an even larger buzz for the movie.

            This, of course, too much resembles conspiracy theories that I largely find distasteful, but there are roots of truth ingrained in this theory. Paramount is noted for rewarding their faithful followers by giving fan sites access to information before the general public.

            And from nearly the beginning of this insane ride through Spielberg’s imaginary world, I knew I was getting the benefit of some blessing from the studio. In our news office, we call it being “tossed a bone.”

            The information I received about the background to the movie, the photographs of closed sets I inherited and the access to people involved in production seemed to be magical rather than the product of my own hard work.

            It always seemed too good to be true.

            For instance, I knew about the super bowl trailer and its contents months before any of the officially favored sites. Also some of the interviews I got came out of left field such as the set designer for the automotive and an extra working on the Athens shoot. I also received odd bits of information no one else in the world knew because these things happened on closed sets such as Spielberg giving Cruise an Italian motorcycle for doing such a good job on the movie.

            But I’ve always believed luck is only half the process, and that a gift from the gods is only as good as what you do with it.

            Something creative had reawakened in me, stirred by jealousy over seeing artists of the caliber of Spielberg engaged in their craft.

            So I began to play, to tease the very gods that gave me favor, by creating parodies of their work – which I knew would eventually evolve out of slavish imitation and emerge as my own art – which occurred.

            But in teasing the gods, I used images from the movie, reshaping for my own related purposes, and in some cases the parodies I created came dangerously close to what really went on in the movie. This was particularly true of the cartoon-like video I did called "Dakota escapes the red weed." In the movie, she is pursued and caught by the red weed and taken up in the space ship.

            Is Freund right – was my access a kind of strength marketing campaign?

            Or is the theory prevalent in my office right, that I was rewarded for initial good reporting with a few bones?

When Paramount's Japanese affiliate came to do a TV show for Japan on making of the movie, they came to me, and only came to Bayonne. No other media outlet in the United States was notified.

Would it not have been better for the movie to have invited more media to witness the amazing cultural exchange?

Perhaps none of the theories are right, and all of the events were merely coincidence, and that like the gnat on the back of the elephant my deeds have gone on mostly unnoticed, the extremely supportive stuff, the teasing, and, too, the studies of craft that have resulted from coming so close to the sun.

Whatever the answer to these mysteries, I know I have become a better and more motivated artist as a result.


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