Let me go back in my own history to explain a bit why I am telling you all of this and how I found myself days from going to Antarctica in the first place. Because of my love of computers (since I was 10 in 1977), everything I did from that point forward involved using them. My parents wisely made me learn to program before they bought me my first Apple II in 1980. I wrote adventure games for fun in high school and then attended MIT to study aeronautical engineering. While there, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded seconds after lifting off. I decided later that year that I really wanted to pursue media, and after graduating in 1989, I went back home to Los Angeles to graduate studies at USC's fabled film school.
I quickly found a way to involve computers in my studies by combining my programming knowledge with critical studies classes and producing with a team of others a digital exploration of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? That got the attention of the School's Dean, and when George Lucas came asking at his Alma Mater for a new sound assistant to work on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, I was sent up north for an interview. Young Indy would be the first television show ever to use digital picture and sound editing. I was at the right place at the right time for I have always loved film, sound and music. Add in computers, and boom - I was the perfect candidate. However, I first had to get the job offer.
That interview really felt like an adventure in its own right. I flew by myself to San Francisco and rented a car for the hour drive to the fabled Skywalker Ranch in Nicasio on Lucas Valley Road (a coincidence and not named for George Lucas). I don't think I had ever driven over the Golden Gate Bridge. Wow, it is gorgeous. I still get chills to this day. (Check out my picture after running over it a few weeks ago.) Because I took an extra early flight, I found myself with time to spare. So, I stopped in nearby San Rafael for lunch. The town seemed so quaint and different from Los Angeles or Boston where I had lived all of my previous 24 years; the parking meters even took pennies. I checked recently, and the meters don't take anything other than quarters now. This was June 13, 1991 - exactly ten years from the day I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. After a quick sandwich, I made my way up to the Ranch. As I drove down the tree-lined road from the guard station, I kept saying to myself that I must be in a mythic tale; how could I possibly be about to meet George Lucas and Ben Burtt, the amazing Academy Award winning sound designer of Star Wars and Indiana Jones?
My interview was awful! I cannot believe they hired me! I could barely speak, and I really had to go to the bathroom. I had to wait an hour before George and Ben could see me, and I was so nervous to leave the room they put me in that I didn't dare look for a restroom. Here's a tip of advice: Go to the restroom before any big meeting!
But I did get the "gig" as they say in the "biz." And what a gig we had. Each Indiana Jones Chronicles episode was worked on for weeks. They were more like mini-movies instead of television episodes (which normally are done in less than a week). I could tell stories about the show for a large number of posts, but we'll save that for another time. Check out Episode 83 of the IndyCast to hear more about my adventures at the Ranch.
I always thought that Young Indy was the type of show I would have watched. My mother is a historian, so I have been learning about history since I was young. My own personal interest is 20th century history (which served me well when I was helping to create Call of Duty later in my career). Indy met so many cool people on his adventures, and I have taken to heart his love of traveling the world and learning about it in the process. My parents were also inspirational here too as they took my sister and I on many trips each year as we grew up (that's me at 7 years of age with my 2 year old sister in front of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, England). So, travel is in my blood, and fortunately my wife Rebecca loves to get out of town too. I think Indy in the Classroom captures the spirit I myself felt in working on the show.