Harry's Day 3 @ SXSW 2010: A spacey double bill of RICHARD GARRIOTT: MAN ON A MISSION & HUBBLE 3D IMAX!
Today didn't quite end up as expected, but then, that's to be expected at a film festival. It just seems if you're me, life takes unexpected turns - and keeps you from the overall plan. I wanted to see 4 films today.
Up first was a film made locally here in Austin, but also in Russia, Houston and on the INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION. That's a modest journey considering the second film, but you'll hear about that soon enough.
RICHARD GARRIOTT: MAN ON A MISSION is an amazing tale about the 1st 2nd Generation American Spaceman, who returned to Earth with the very 1st 2nd Generation Russian Spaceman. And that's pretty awesome in itself.
Imagine that. Your dad was an Astronaut. Genuinely - that notion, all on its own... boggles the mind. Can you imagine that? Dad goes away for a bit and comes back with stories from outer space. You know he'd take you Star Wars & Star Trek flicks - but when you came home, he could REALLY answer your questions. Just feels amazing to think about your Dad, the astronaut.
And imagine, wanting to grow up to do the same. Say the math and science came easy to you. When the family bought the APPLE II - you ate it up. Around the same time, you got glasses... you were near sighted... which basically means... you can give up that dream of Space Travel or work. But you decide to dedicate yourself to the computer. An unwieldy device - completely unimaginably plain. I remember those times. Large floppy drives. Well this Richard fella - he starts creating his own games, essentially creating his own genre of games... that I'd say has moderately caught on. Heh. Also around this time you've stopped growing at 6ft - too tall to be an astronaut.
If you know the name of Richard Garriott... you know his story. An incredibly geeky man, even by my standards, rich beyond reckon - and awesomely insane & cool.
This is a story about a man that had no chance of going to space, but who lived with his dream his whole life. In order to make it happen, he created a company, made and lost a couple of fortunes over time. But then - he did something unimaginable. He has helped fund and create the private sector that allowed himself to go and continue his father's work... in space.
The story of Richard Garriott is historic. It is an inspiration and a lesson about stick-to-it-ness and plain ol all American private sector business gone right.
Now - in the interests of full disclosure... I have to tell you that Richard Garriott did take my DNA to preserve in outer space. The idea is that these 'seeds' of humanity could be used in case we all have a really awesomely fucked few weeks. Personally, I can't tell you how ridiculously awesome it feels to know my DNA is in outer space... while I'm alive. That's cool. And I really do just dance a jig thinking about it - but that has not one iota to do with my opinion about this film.
This is a film that every geek on this planet should see and share with their family. In an odd little way, it's kinda of a document of geek awesome. Not to say there haven't been geek astronauts before. Hell, I can't even tell ya how many folks I know that read this site at NASA. Hell, that angry insane talkbacker... that fucker could be a rocket scientist... But there's a spectacular story at play here.
This is a true American story about my generation. This generation. The video game generation. It's about a guy that dresses up for LARPing adventures, creates the best fucking Haunted House on the planet, made so many millions, that he spent $30 million of them on an 11 day trip to Outer Space - after spending a year of his life learning Russian. And he did it. I saw the man that did this tonight, and that's pretty goddamn spectacular.
This is a story of one of us. He's a man that describes the International Space Station as essentially being comparable to the social and structural stratas of Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS. Yes. Oh yes. Richard Garriott is one of us. And I know he knows that 'song'/'chant'/brilliance. AND he essentially created MMOs. I pray this film gets picked up, this is a story that needs to be shared - it is a story about achieving your dreams, changing the way things are, success and passion. This film must be seen. It is the most personal story of Space Travel about somebody like us - that stands in lines overnight for "you know" - and he'll continue to be that guy... only now... He knows what it is like to stare out a window and the entirety of the Planet Earth... whilst floating and shitting a perfect unbroken stretch of a week's load of shit in a glorious gravity defying act that I really and truly wish I could experience just once. I mean - photograph that shit, that'd be amazing. (BY THE WAY - the film is completely PG - I'm just fixated on a story that wasn't really about "toothpaste".
After that - I went to the Bob Bullock Texas Memorial IMAX Theater here in Austin for one of my contributions to SXSW... HUBBLE 3D. Last year, I got contacted by Warner Brothers and IMAX to show me 5 minutes or so from HUBBLE 3D. And the lovely IMAX representative told me about some shots they were attempting that was about flying through the universe propelled through an infinity focus shot of space. Oh. In IMAX 3D shot with the Hubble Telescope. Yeah. Like I didn't want to see that as soon as possible, and the film had its first public screening anywhere tonight - and the very awesome Mike Massimino, Astronaut and awesome Monkey! Not a real monkey, but a Monkey like you and me - just trained infinitely better than us.
HUBBLE 3D contains the purest most spectacular interstellar travel that I have ever had the joy to witness. There is a shot. I have no idea how long this shot was... at least about 5 minutes - that involves a shot that begins essentially like how you see the stars from here on Earth.
Go outside tonight and look up at Orion's Belt. Slightly below that - with your binoculars - right below... you'll see the Orion nebula. The data that comes from Hubble is known in 3D. The shots that have been rendered comes from the image taken with the HUBBLE - then in combination with the measurements and distances and all those other glorious things they get with that astonishing man made eye of god... well, I saw what it was like to peer with perfect 3D, perfect clarity, perfect perfect. This 'shot' is simply one of the most astonishing images that I've ever seen. In a blink of an eye it erases what I saw with Pandora. This shot is better, more mind blowing, than anything in AVATAR - and it was done through the magic of NASA and IMAX.
But there's more to this movie than that. You'll meet the big "Mass" - Mike Massimino being told - whilst in outer space repairing the Hubble Space Telescope... while being assisted by his main man that had access to literally ever tool he could possibly need. Performing a task that he's spent years training for - that he has performed correctly a whole helluvalot... And then... there's a stuck bolt. A Bolt that didn't want to go anywhere - and none of the tools were working to get it the hell out of there. But you know what. There was a tool that the super geniuses at NASA had not yet unleashed. A big ol lunky funky space monkey by the name of Big Mike Massimino - and Houston screamed up at him - in a very calm monotone... "BREAK IT OFF" - and Mike thought about something to unleash "THE MASS" THE MASS steeled himself for the task. With his enormous HULK like MASS mitts he took hold of this bastard metal that was in his way. And then he thought... if this chunk of bastard metal doesn't come off with the might of THE MASS... the Hubble's capacity to find another EARTH will not ever... ever... come to be.
This problem. This arrogant piece of metal that stood between us and a chance of finding the first habitable planet other than Earth in this Universe. Perhaps the singular most important discovery of mankind. This... Herculean task... for which the Gods of NASA sent into the Heavens sent THE MASS to fix. He fucking fixed.
SO... future generations of disenfranchised ungrateful youths... When that fucking comet comes to wipe our planet from existence... You should know that the only reason you emotionally stumped pricks don't have to worry about it... if it all goes well and some other scientist says - "EARTH 2 yonder" - and the dream kickstarts a revolution in science and interstellar travel. Well, it all came down to another Italian. Well, an Italian American named Mike Massimino who had to Hulk out in outer space and rip a bastard hunk of metal out of the HUBBLE - so we can have a prayer of finding a second residence in this cosmos that this film shows us in all it's glory.
The difference between MAN ON A MISSION and HUBBLE 3D seems gargantuan. HUBBLE 3D literally will change the way you dream of space for the rest of your life. The vision of that telescope knocked my jaw in the dirt even as I smiled and fought back tears that I did not wish to distort some of the most brilliant visions these eyes have ever seen.
But MAN ON A MISSION would at a surface level be about some rich guy that went to outerspace to attempt zero G Jackson Pollock's. But the trailblazing that Richard Garriott is a huge part of... that has spurred private industry forward to make their mark in space. Well, if we're ever to see the rest of us out there. To see our children not know a world of limitations that are prescribed by the government regarding space travel. Well... Garriott's story is a true story of a great SPACE ENTREPRENEUR. The man is growing Crystals in space in a little canister that will pay for his next $30 million dollar trip. And if you can only make Crystals in space that are worth that kinda of change... you can bet somebody will hire illegal aliens and ship them into outer space to cut corners on this Crystal Growing fad. Right? And just tell me which border to cross to get to go.
Heh. Sorry. I'm a little loopy tonight. After having a beer while talking to an Astronaut tonight - I decided... I really didn't want to lose the dream that these two movies gave me today.
I felt like that Farmer from BABE.... That'll do. That'll do.
And indeed it did. Partying later with Mike Massimino, Ph.D - Astronaut at the HIGH BALL... well, that's pretty damn cool. Right?
God I love space. I'm sitting here tonight watching old STAR TREKs and thinking about the images I saw tonight, the dreams accomplished, the steps they've taken to help mankind evolve not in a petty way, not in a selfish way, but in a way that takes us. ALL OF US. Forward. That's what these films did. And that is truly worth checking out.
Now, I'm off to bed. I've been getting a good 4 hours a night for several nights in a row - and I feel so great about it. I really love this festival and this life.