Why didnít Paramount stop me


Why didnít Paramount stop me?


Email to Al Sullivan


When I finally got to see War of the Worlds yesterday, my first overall impression was shock at how many of the details I had actually gotten right, although I found remarkable delight in how the movie shifted from scene to scene and sequence to sequence, and how right the Cruise character felt.

But knowing as much as I did, and knowing that Paramount and Steven Spielberg saw what I was writing, why didnít any of them stop me?

And will they stop me now that the movie has inspired additional essays?

For me, this has always been a kind of detective story, with someone leaving clues for me to pick up and explore the potential of. For Spielberg and Paramount, this is a financial investment Ė they had a lot to lose if I gave too much away, even in my wildest guessing.

Perhaps someone high up in the organization wanted to see what I might do next Ė such as the sudden inspiration to do that Cruise parody with me playing all of the parts in the van scene.

Parody has always been my way of learning, although it is difficult for me to express just how stunned I was by some of the angles and things Spielberg used in the first trailer. I ran from my office to frame the Bayonne Bridge in my rearview window and to take the angle shot in which Cruiseís face is framed by the car door and the Bayonne Bridge supports.

This isnít merely duplication. There is a discovery process that goes on with each new discovery. That moment, and a bunch of others since, harkened back to the first time I looked through a telescope and saw the rings of Saturn.

In each case, a sense of reality exploded upon me. With Saturn, there was the thought: ďIt really is up there. They werenít lying to me.Ē

With the shots from the trailer, there was a putting the pieces together and saying, ďSo thatís how he got that effect.Ē

But for me, it is a risk-free flirtation with art, a challenging myself at no expense. For Paramount and Spielberg, it was like having me a stranger stomping through their bedroom, who knows what I might have accidentally revealed.

So why didnít they stop me?

One of the inside people from the studio emailed me to express his own joy over the final product, noting that the red weed scenes were much tamer than he was led to believe. He also pondered how much my delving had influenced the final film.

Me? Influence?

Iím the student here, guys Ė at 54 years old I feel like a kid, one who has discovered it is possible to walk on the moon.

I donít know how I will ever top this feeling except to keep probing the waters and testing my talents to see if I can do things that I see being done by talented people like Spielberg, and to explore deeply the patterns of such art, to see if I can get inside the head of the artist, and perhaps if I am very, very lucky, have some of that vision rub off on me.

Scary stuff, walking on the moon.



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