Note: A number of recent events have caused me to pause and consider the remarkable impact the Whedon Clan has had on my life…Almost all of it without their knowledge, of course, but today’s tweet from writer Jane Espenson reminding everyone that today is the 15th Anniversary of the premiere of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, really got me thinking…And Taryn O’Neill’s open letter to Joss seemed like such a good idea that I thought I’d do what any good writer would do…Steal the idea and make it my own (kidding) (not really.)
You don’t know me…Well, that is, we’ve never properly met, although we’ve been in close proximity enough times that you’d probably recognize me in sort of a “He looks strangely familiar, but don’t think I’ve got a restraining order out against him, yet”, kind of way.
We’ve been together at a comic book store signing in Santa Monica in 2004, the 2009 Streamy Awards, when I was sitting right behind you and NPH, as part of ‘The Guild’ crew that was nominated along with your ‘Dr. Horrible’ folks…
Most recently, I was in the audience at (redacted) when you came to talk to the (redacted) for (redacted), and screened a bunch of (also redacted.) We even walked past each other on the (Redacted, again…Sorry, NDAs, but you know what I’m talking about…)
I’ve never really talked to you on any of those occasions, because, aside from being intensely shy around folks I don’t know, when you meet a celebrity, unless you have some common ground to keep the conversation going, it always turns in to a series of “What’s your favorite color”-type questions, and you and I really don’t have all that much in question, except, well…A mutual love of Shakespeare, television, musicals, film, comic books, and…Oh, shit…I really blew it, didn’t I?
The funny thing is that you are probably one of the two people who are my biggest influences, and have had the most profound impact on my life and professional career over the last fifteen years…and that other great influence is someone I would have never met, worked with, or became friends with, if it wasn’t for you and your work.
Sounds pretty strange, right? How could some dude, whom I’ve followed from a far for years, skulked around on a few occasions, but never actually met, have that much impact on someone’s life in a totally healthy and non-sociopathic, well mostly, way, not requiring therapeutic intervention and a lot of psychotropic medication?
Well, back in the mid ’90s I was very gainfully employed in information systems consulting, owned my own company, and was making a ton of money twiddling bits for Fortune 100 corporations…and was completely miserable about it. The business, not the money.
Money isn’t bad … I kind of like it, in fact. Channeling Xander (which I frequently do, and nobody in the office gets, which makes me look oddly out-of-place a lot), I’m gonna’ go out on a limb here and say money is good. But it wasn’t enough.
My original entertainment career had taken a side track after film/theater school and early work in television production, and a side trip to New York morphed into something completely out-of-control. The career I had left behind was always, and I mean always, in the back of my mind. (Well, what I really wanted to do was direct. I’m sure you’ve never heard that before. Much.)
Then, on the heels of some great TV Fantasy and SciFi programming that was really spreading like wildfire in the mid-’90s, like ‘Babylon 5’, came ‘Buffy’…And a whole new way of looking at long-form television.
You broke every convention around, bent genres, wrote brilliant, snarky, dialog, and had chicks kissing on screen (I really liked that part…a lot.) This was not your Father’s Television series (although your dad and granddad wrote for some of my all-time favorite shows as well), and taken along with the work that folks like Aaron Sorkin and Kevin Williamson were doing at the time, I really wanted to work on this kind of television.
Then there were all the chats on The Bronze, and The Bronze Beta, and seeing folks like Mere Smith break through the fourth wall and get a shot writing for you just sent me over the top…
By the time Firefly premiered, I had gone back to school, learned to combine my bit-twiddling abilities with editing and VFX software, and had sold off my life in New Jersey, to move back to California, and start building a tv/film career from the bottom of the ladder.
Fast forward a few years later, I got into the Motion Picture Editors Guild, worked on a bunch of features doing editorial, VFX, and Pipeline Technology work, and landed a job at Industrial Light and Magic, fulfilling a dream that I’d had since 1977, when I first saw ‘Star Wars’…
Life was good, but working on Blockbuster VFX movies was still not fulfilling all of my creative needs. I was looking to do more, looking to create, and looking for a medium where I could have greater, and more direct impact in whatever role I played…And then you, Jed, and Maurissa, wrote ‘Dr. Horrible’, a show which lead me to one of the most life-changing events of my career…Working as the VFX guy on Season 2 of ‘The Guild‘.
It was Dr. Horrible that lead me to Felicia Day’s IMDb profile, and a reference to a little show I’d never heard of called ‘The Guild.’ By the time I’d surfed to YouTube and heard the words, “oh yeah, there’s a Gnome Warlock in my living room sleeping on my couch”, I knew I had found something amazing, and was hooked.
A few months later, after Felicia posted a tweet about looking for crew to help on Season 2 of the show, I sent out an email that said, basically, “Hey…I think what you’re doing is really cool. Can I help?”
She said yes, and that lead to the closing sequence of Season 2, Episode 12, a Streamy Award Nomination for Best VFX in a Web Series, membership in the International Academy of Web Television, and involvement in a community of creative individuals who have become my friends, mentors, and greatest source of inspiration…Not the least of whom is Felicia, herself, who has been huge source of moral support and encouragement for my own efforts in content creation.
Right now I’ve also been (redacted) with (redacted) on a new (redacted) for (redacted) (redacted…Sorry, FrieNDA this time…I’m under so many different types of non-disclosures I’m not even sure if I can talk to myself most of the time. Which is just as well, because there are always arguments.)
So yeah, we’ve never chatted, but your work has directly impacted my life in some truly profound ways…Oh, and bee-tee-dubs, aside from all of that, I just love what you do. ‘Buffy’, ‘Angel’, ‘Firefly’, ‘Serenity’, ‘Dollhouse’…Forget about professional impact, just the amount entertainment, and sheer joy, that you’ve brought into this life over the years is enough to be thankful for.
So, yeah, Joss…Thanks. Thanks for ‘Buffy’, thanks for all the inspiration that’s guided my life to new ground, and all of the personal and professional relationships that have grown out of that inspiration. It’s all appreciated far more than even these words can convey.
So, if I say ‘Hi’ to you the next time you’re at (redacted), don’t worry…It’s not a mugging, or a hallway pitch (which isn’t much different from a mugging, I would imagine), and I promise I won’t ask you what your favorite color is (blue? Damn…)