Friday, June 6, 2014
Janie Fitzgerald in the LimeLight
It happens, now and then, that someone I know and like, keeps coming into my life, but only briefly, and then disappears. But as time goes by the person, who I think the world of, with hard work and talent, becomes a successful working artist. I am just in awe of this, to do this in this changing economy and with the wild technology changes is completely exceptional.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I met a woman named Janie Fitzgerald. I don't remember the first time we met, but it might have been at Limelight. Ah, LimeLight. One of the most glamourous and successful of the music video production companies, with headquarters in London, and an office in LA.
The year must have been 1988 and Brad and I were just starting deGraf/Wahrman and had been invited to present our reel to them. They were casting for a music video, were thinking of using computer animation, which was a completely new and somewhat trendy art form, and somehow we had been recommended to them. So Brad and I showed up and sat in the most amazing waiting room in the world. No adolescent male in his wildest dreams could have imagined the situation. We were surrounded, literally surrounded, by an uncountable number of some of the most beautiful young women in Los Angeles. I would guess that they were all roughly 18-24 in age, dressed to kill, and that there were not less than 20 of them packed into this little room while Brad and I sat and waited for our turn and tried not to notice the potent pheremones that surrounded us. Packed like sardines in a can, literally sitting on a bench squeezed between not less than 10 or 15 of these archetypal objects of teenage lust, candidates no doubt for some insanely exploitative music video, we were completely immune to any distraction from our devotion to 3D animation.
And lording over it all was the receptionist, Janie Fitzgerald, who seemed to think that Brad and I waiting in this room with these actresses was very entertaining.
She seemed familiar somehow. Had I met her at a party recently? Maybe.
The next thing I knew, Janie was working at Homer and Associates, a semi-competitor of ours and owned by our good friend Peter Conn. Now Peter at the time was married to Coco Conn, who was acting social director for the huge computer animation community in Los Angeles which must have numbered at least 50 people, if not more. For those who do not know my sarcastic style, the point is the community was tiny and a few years later there would be a tsunami of people, 2,000 at least, which essentially crushed and destroyed our little community the way an elephant crushes a bug. This was before that tsunami, when we all liked or at least knew each other and would go to parties at Coco Conn's house, or Jeff and Diana Kleiser's house, or at Chris Casady's place with Lynda Weinman, or at Gorky's downtown. (1)
This was in the days when computer animation was considered unproven and risky and before it was accepted by the entertainment industry. This was back when an experimental computer artist could stand shoulder to shoulder with an animator for a Budweiser commercial and discuss the semiotics of digital production or the failure of the cultural myth. This was before the fall from grace. Janie was part of our community. I would see her now and then at these parties and it was always a pleasure.
Janie was working at becoming a professional still photographer. And so after about 5 years with Homer, perhaps 1994 or so, Janie went independent as a photographer, one of the most difficult fields that I know of to succeed in and yet Janie has been successful. She has never had a normal job since she left Homer and has been able to buy a house in Burbank, in other words she is a working professional photographer.
For some reason the Limelight incident, and Janie, was always in my mind. I am not sure why exactly, but she was.
Many, many years later when I was living in New York and had an office at the NYU Media Research Lab, perhaps the year was 2000, one night, perhaps 9 pm or so, I came to the lab and was walking down the hall, when I saw a woman walking towards me who looked amazingly like Janie. Not possible I thought. But yes, the lattice of causality that underlies the apparent coincidences of the material world was acting up again, and it was Janie, attending some special event as part of an Apple conference ongoing in Manhattan, I think.
Sill later, I found her on Facebook, and I have found Facebook to be very useful to keep in touch and see the progress of some of my friends.
So there it is, a successful professional photographer, and a really lovely person, working in this down economy and doing what she loves.
Yes, of course, it is obvious. I have had a crush on her since I first saw her at Limelight. In a room literally packed with actresses, starlets and ingenues I only noticed Janie, and it is only Janie that I remember.
But none of that matters.
Janie's personal web site is www.janiefitzgerald.com
Her professional web site is www.axisimages.com
1. Gorky's completely disappeared when I was in NY in some sort of hideous scandal. But by that time the scene that I knew in computer animation had been destroyed by its success and so it really did not matter.