Monday, September 28, 2009

Almost Famous

A little over a year ago, my sculpture, Cosmos, was rented to be in a movie. The movie, Surrogates, just came out last weekend and the sculpture does show up, but just barely. If you happen to see the movie, Cosmos is at the human reservation in a green area where The Prophet hangs out. This scene is about a third of the way through the movie. Cosmos can be seen spinning away at the left side of the screen for maybe two seconds. If you aren't looking for the sculpture, you will probably miss it. Cosmos is almost famous!

Over the last year I have told people that Disney rented my sculpture and I have gotten many questions about how this all happened. Here is a brief description of what happened and maybe it will give you a little bit of information on how this small part of the movie industry works, at least in my case.

In May of 2008 I got an email from someone claiming to represent a major motion picture who said she wanted to maybe rent one of my sculptures. At first I thought it was just another scam to try to get me to divulge personal bank account info or something like that. The one thing that made me think it might be legitimate was there were a lot of phone numbers at the bottom of the email. I thought it was worth replying to.

It turned out the offer was legitimate. I was in communication with the Buyer for the Surrogates Production. She told me that the Set Decorator (an official title) wanted the "rebel camp" to look kind of Burning-Man- like. The Buyer had not heard of Burning Man so she went on the web, found the Burning Man website, and found a picture or two of my sculpture, Cosmos. This was how she found me.

I had no idea what to charge as a rental fee. Fortunately I have two friends who have worked in and around the movie business. Jeff used to run a company that rented cameras and such to film production. He was the perfect guy to ask about rental pricing. My friend, Don, has done work for Disney for years so he was helpful with information about dealing with Disney.

I came up with a weekly price and they agreed. They paid me two weeks rental fee and a crating fee in advance, which was pretty cool. Disney sent a truck to take it to Massachusetts where the movie was being filmed. I wrote a manual for assembling the sculpture and also shot a video of it being assembled. Cosmos is a bit complicated to assemble so I wanted to give the set building crew good instructions so that they could put it together easily and not damage it.

I shipped Cosmos to Taunton, MA in June, 2008 and it was set up on the grounds of an abandoned mental hospital/school called the Dever State School. If you look up Dever State School you can see pictures of the site, without the movie set, of course.

They rented the sculpture for three weeks and then shipped it back to my shop in Prescott. Unfortunately, one of the parts was damaged in shipping. The Lead Man (another "official" title) was great. He filed a claim with the shipper and I got a check to cover repairs in just a few weeks.

All in all, renting out my sculpture was a great experience. The people I dealt with were very professional and were excellent communicators. I would definitely do it again.

I tried not to have expectations about the sculpture appearing in the movie. I know that the movie industry spends millions of dollars on things that never actually show up on the screen. I hoped that Cosmos would not get edited out. I entertained the idea that it might even appear prominently. I couldn't help being a bit disappointed that it was so easy to miss while watching the film. But it IS there! So that's a good thing.

Cosmos is available for sale. I am asking $26,000 for it. It is a little over 20 feet tall and it's base is 12 feet in diameter. It has several spinning elements that are wind driven. I just shot a 1-minute video of Cosmos spinning in high winds. Check it out.