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Eyes Wide Open

NOVEMBER 9, 2006
In 1993 I was asked to illustrate the British Petroleum annual Report. They had seen some documentary paintings I had done which were in CA magazine. The idea was that I would go out onto an oil drilling platform in the North Sea and illustrate the daily life there. It was very exciting and I made plans to go to London in November.

Meanwhile, my friend, who is a visual effects artist for Industrial Light and Magic, had been having phone conversations with Stanley Kubrick about a secret film project he was planning. It was a story set in the far distant future, and Kubrick wanted to know if the technology used in Jurassic Park could be used for a sweeping helicopter shot which would show New York City submerged with just the tops of the skyscrapers above the surface. It was decided that my friend would travel to Kubricks home for one day for a meeting. The trip was limited to one day to minimize jetlag.

At Kubrick’s  home outside London, the technical problems presented by the film were discussed. One of the obstacles was that the interaction of deep-ocean waves on horizontal surfaces was not well documented. Kubrick suggested that sets could be built over existing oil rigs in the ocean. My friend told Kubrick that this might not be necessary but that he had a friend who was going to be on an oil platform in a few days, who could shoot some reference photos of wave interaction.

When my friend left Kubrick’s home to go back to London, Kubrick offered him his copy of Time Out, in case he wanted to see any films before returning to San Francisco.

The next night my friend and his family were at my house for Thanksgiving dinner. I was leaving for London the next morning to go to the North Sea to do the annual report and with a secret mission to try to photograph wave interaction for Stanley Kubrick. And in my suitcase was Kubrick’s own copy of Time Out.

As it happened, BP’s  insurance company never cleared me to go on the helicopter to the platform, and I spent what was a fabulous week in London strolling around waiting for the appeal. I never got onto the oil platform and had to do the paintings from photos shot by a BP photographer.  Stanley Kubrick never made A.I.. I often wonder what it might have been like if he had made it instead of Eyes Wide Shut.
I still have his very own copy of Time Out.