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The Science Of Fiction Conference, at the 5D Institute, University of Southern California

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Friday 24th October 2014

In the City of the Angels

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I left my room at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel at 7am and set out walking under already warm and perfectly sunny skies, down the road to where I caught the M720 Rapid Metro Bus all the way down Wiltshire Boulevard to Santa Monica.

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The Hilton Doubletree, S Los Angeles Street

Everyone told me before I came here that no-one walks, everyone goes everywhere by car or cab, but this is not true. There were lots of people walking, and we often greeted each other with a nod and smile. The bus was packed and there were loads of buses on the roads, all full of people. Traffic wasn’t bad at all, and cars and cabs were easily outnumbered by utility vehicles and buses.

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I went to Santa Monica to have breakfast in Rae’s Diner on Pico Boulevard with my good friend the writer, composer, musician and lawyer Michael Lee Jackson. Michael handles all the legal stuff for Atlantic Screen Group and otherwise publishes his books and music from time to time. He’s been in the music business all of his career, in one role or another. We met in Cannes in 2012 and this was our second chance to sit and chat before he fled for the airport to fly up to Seattle for a party. Rae’s Diner (that I forgot to photograph), so Michael told me, is unchanged since he first moved near there maybe twenty years ago (and probably a decade or two before then). This is practically pre-historic in LA terms. The food was all I dreamed of, beautifully cooked omelette and crispy bacon, with good coffee and some excellent toast. I left replete and headed for Hollywood in a cab that Michael generously provided.

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Hollywood is a tourist trap nowadays, though they still have lots of movie theatres, and the famous stars in the pavement. There are a lot of names there I had never heard of, but many more I had. I selected the three that meant something to me.

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I stepped right into the trap with glee and gusto. I went to see that famous Hollywood Boulevard and in particular Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

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The visit cost me $80 for which I got 4 signed cds from some very cool hustlers outside Grauman’s, near the rather crudely made hand and foot prints of more stars in the pavement outside. The hustlers loved my Ozzie Boateng jacket – “This is a star jacket, man” etc. so I couldn’t refuse their plea for cash. They made me laugh, and that made it all good.

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I also called into the Larry Edmonds Bookshop, that specialises in posters and books about Hollywood. They had a poster of Hellraiser II: Hellbound in the window. I offered to sign something but he didn’t have anything. He said he’d keep an eye out for Leviathan, the documentary about the first two Hellraiser films, in which I have a small part. It should be released in a few months time, so I understand (see https://www.facebook.com/HellraiserDocumentary?fref=ts )

* * * * * *

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The Sound Of Rilao: Club Circulo

To quote 5D Institute’s own website, and to clear up something I’ve been getting wrong up to now (and in the article to appear next week, but it is only a minor error – I hope) “THE SCIENCE OF FICTION is NOT a conference. There are no panels, there are no speakers, and there is no audience. Instead we deal in the power of vast collaboration: the one-hundred-percent participation of creative minds across diverse disciplines.”

So let’s call it The Science Of Fiction Event. It  began on the first evening with Club Circulo, a music and light event to kick off the conference. The Music of Rilao was the theme and the whole thing was a blast, in almost every sense of the word! Loud, raucous and delightful.

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On entering the space we were greeted with a roar of music and a lightshow on a large transparent screen. Shimmering images and land or sea-like scapes appeared on the screen, activated and altered by the music and by the noises generated by members of the audience beating on an assortment of metal surfaces with plastic tubing, each beat causing a shift in the patterns of light playing on the screen. “The Sound Of Rilao” was created by overlaying a basic drum and base soundtrack with the random, though to a degree rhythmic drumming of the audience’s playing.

Then a band called <namethemachine>, featuring Earl Slick from the David Bowie band on guitar, Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols on bass, Steve Fishman on keyboard, and Slim Jim from the Stray Cats on drums. They were accompanied by Four Color Zack, the Red Bull DJ scratch artist champion. It reminded me a little of Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd back in the mid-1960s, but with the added bonus that these musicians have a much more sophisticated approach to this sort of improvised jazzy Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was compelling and a fantastic way to kick off the Event.

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Glen Matlock at USC for the Rilao Project Event

I also spent quite a lot of time outside, partly to give my ears a rest, but mainly because I got into a a couple of very interesting conversations, one with a writer called Justin Barber who has written a whole series of books based on a fantasy world he and his pals started working on back in 2010, and the other conversation with a Sound Designer called Chanel (I didn’t catch her surname), discussing the implications of the new technology on her particular branch of the new methods of creative process, for which I’m going to coin the name Motion Imagery. The latest developments in Computer Technology, the new ways of harnessing the melting pot of creative energy and new possibilities require a new, encompassing word for what we have hitherto called Film or TV or Games or Transmedia.

So now we rest and get ready for the marathon of creative invention which will be at the core of tomorrow’s workshops.

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