beamjockey (beamjockey) wrote,

And the Memory Won't Grow Cold: Stumbling upon an Oscar Surprise

K was channel-surfing tonight. For a moment, the TV alighted on the channel showing the Oscar ceremony, just as awards for "scientists and engineers" were being announced. As Oscar-viewers know, for a boatload of technical categories, the Academy consigns the nominees and winners to a separate ceremony, fearing the TV audience might be bored.

So I gave a cheer "Yay, scientists and engineers!" and K let the remote control rest for a while. Two beautiful people summarized the technical awards. And I was stunned to hear a familiar name.

The Academy Web site tells it this way:
Visual effects supervisor and director of photography Bill Taylor has been voted the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation by the Board of Governors of the Academy.
Not familiar to you?

Bill Taylor is a co-founder of Illusion Arts and a forty-year veteran of visual effects.

Still not familiar?

Near the beginning of career, he collaborated on a very-low-budget science fiction film, Dark Star, for which he is credited with optical effects, and as visual effects consultant, "I guess because I was the only guy who had any professional effects experience, trying to figure out the working methods on our less-than-shoestring budget..."

He did one more thing.

Bill Taylor is the man who wrote the lyrics to "Benson, Arizona."

It's a fine country song. In my mind, and in my mind alone, as I read the label on the record spinning on an imaginary turntable, it has a subtitle: "(Love Theme from Dark Star)." John Carpenter wrote the music-- and would go on to direct, and compose music for, many other films.

You can learn more about this song here, thanks to the labors of Daniel Hartmeier, who is even more obsessed with "Benson, Arizona" than I am. There you may read Bill Taylor's own account of the song's origins.

So here's to Bill Taylor, ASC, who now wears the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, and who put Benson, Arizona on the map!
Tags: movies, music, sf, ukulele
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