I love the random things that often happen in my job.
I recently talked about wanting to get a backdrop for my podcast studio. Now that we’re in winter, the Lovely Garden View outside my window turns into into inky blackness at around 3 PM. Before the afternoon was out, I got an email from someone I know at ILM. “I might have a backdrop that’ll work for you,” he said. “What’s your address?”
This is the sort of email that you answer straight away.
I was expecting some posters (and would have been happy to get them). So it was no surprise when a heavy plastic tube was delivered a few days later.
I think you’ll agree that its contents was a little better than a batch of movie posters.
The letter that it came with it tells me that ILM had this backdrop made up for an interview with Dennis Muren. You know: nine-time Oscar-winning visual effects artist and the SFX director of “Empire Strikes Back.” I started unrolling it and it just kept right on going and going and going. And the dopey grin on my face got bigger and bigger and bigger.
Why, I felt like I could take on the Empire all by myself.
(Wait, forget it. When people say that, things never end well for them.)
One nagging problem: how the hell was I going to hang this? Just measuring it out was tricky. I used a half a dozen soda cans to flatten it out and came up with a measurement that was a little off. Finally, I cleared some furniture from my living room so I could come at it from all angles with my tape measure, and I got it exactly: 90″ by 40″.
I snapped a photo and sent it to a friend. He was much, much more impressed by it when he did a double-take and realized that he’d gotten the scale wrong: those were soda cans and not D-cell batteries.
Clearly I couldn’t just swing by the craft store for an off-the-shelf frame. I wound up putting together a simple half-tenon support frame for it, envisioning that a box of jumbo bulldog clips (with some padding in their jaws) would hold it up nicely while I figure out a more permanent solution.
(I’m thinking of adding some removable strips of painted moulding that can receive a sandwich of foamcore, an acid barrier, the backdrop, and then a sheet of plastic. I don’t even want to think about what a 90″x40″ sheet of glass would cost, or how many of them I’d break while trying to get everything put together and up on the wall.)
For now, it’s clipped to the frame and supported by a couple of plastic grocery baskets. It isn’t exactly a Lucasfilm Archives-quality display. But then again, the original item was certainly never meant to be revered. It’s printed on heavy poster paper and has a few holes in the corner where it was pinned to its original wall behind Mr. Muren. It was made to suit a purpose and I’m just very lucky and grateful that it happened to be cluttering up someone’s office and that this person was kind enough to send it over.
But regardless of its original purpose, this is a fairly awesome thing to have up on a wall. I can already tell that all future living spaces will have to pass a new criteria: “Is there a space for my Battle of Hoth backdrop?”