What do "Good Will Hunting", "Titanic," and "Pizza, Pizza" have in
Here's a hint: it's the same something that ESPN.com
and "The English Patient" share.
Give up? It's The Ninth Annual Portland Creative Conference, a full-blown multimedia
event where the brilliant minds behind those titles converged for an
electrifying and interactive ideas exchange.
There are lots of conferences, but trust me—this one's way ahead of the
pack! For three days in September, multimedia magicians, producers, directors, writers,
composers, artists, and advertising legends met to share their personal
insights into the creative process.
Even with nearly nine hundred people seated in the city's Center for the Performing
Arts, there was an undeniable feeling of intimacy. Maybe it was the
juxtaposition of the intense creative genius on-stage, mixed with the talent
in the audience, poised against the backdrop of easy-going, uncommonly
congenial Portland—all far removed from the usual centers of media.
Whatever it was, it created a wide-open forum where ideas and opinions were
freely expressed and "behind-the-scenes" stories were shared.
The following are only sound-bite highlights, but hopefully enough to tease you to check out next year's conference.
After Gus Van Sant, Academy Award-winning Director, revealed new avenues of
creativity discovered while directing "Good Will Hunting," he showed some of
his early work, including two 1930s-style short films done with sharp-edged
political satire—one with William Burroughs, the other featuring Allen
The Bay Area's own David Siegel, best-selling author of "Secrets of Successful
Websites," captivated the audience with more than his usual entertaining romp
through the world of creative Websites. He treated us to an insightful
look at the anatomy of a script and explained the important elements of
storytelling that can make or break any project's success.
Academy Award-winning Producer of "The English Patient", Saul Zaentz taught us the importance of allowing the unexpected to veer you off the script and showed us some of
the surprising and wonderful results of such side trips.
Cliff Freeman, winner of 30 Clio Awards for such commercial campaigns as
"Where's the Beef," "Pizza, Pizza," and the York's Peppermint Patty "Get the
Sensation," entertained us with some hilarious clips that never made it to the screen, and
many that did.
"Titanic" Special Effects Academy Award winner, Rob Legato,
revealed the bare-bones of the movie's visual effects in far greater detail
than any of the "how they made Titanic" TV documentaries. Could you spot the
film's seamless transitions between the virtual and the real? We couldn't.
Alf Clausen, seven-time Emmy Award nominee for original musical scores for
"The Simpsons," walked us through the process of writing music for a series
when the composer, scriptwriters, actors, animators, and executives never set
foot in the same room. He closed with the on-screen final version of his two
most acclaimed pieces, "We Put the Spring in Springfield," and "Checking In."
Other speakers included Mike Slade of ESPN.com,
ABCnews.com, Mr. Showbiz, and NBA.com; Peggy Van Pelt, the Talent Developer
for Disney's Imagineering; and Anne Flett-Giordano, former scriptwriter for
"Frasier," and now co-producer of the new series "Encore! Encore!"
Three "Current Thinking" panel discussions covered topics such as censorship
on the Net and the future impact of HDTV. There were
premier screenings of two films—"The Imposters" and "Without Limits", plus
several imaginative shorts by Will Vinton Studios.
But, with all of the aforementioned luminescent talent,
the most memorable presentation was one by the outrageous Denny
Dent, a performance artist billed as "A Two-Fisted Art Attack." Armed with
three brushes in each hand, Dent dipped into buckets of day-glo and then, to
the loud pulsating blast of "The Rolling Stones," attacked a 6-foot-tall black
canvas. His whole body gyrated with the beat as he flung formless swipes of
color across the canvas amidst the nonstop screaming and applause of the crowd
until, in less than 10 minutes, a perfect rendering of the full-lipped face of
Mick Jagger emerged.
After a similar attack was waged on Albert Einstein, we heard the unmistakable
electric squeals of Hendrix's guitar and one last piece of art was masterfully
birthed, ending with an unexpected twist that brought the house down. Denny
Dent—a guy who can incite an art riot!
If you weren't among the many Bay Area multimedians who enjoyed this year's
one-of-a-kind extravaganza, mark your calendars for September 16-18, 1999.
Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Portland Creative Conference,
so when you get there, prepare to fasten your seat belts!
Reprinted from: North Bay Multimedia Association's "Multimedia Reporter".