Visit to a Sad Planet

circa 05/01 ; 3:42

This 4-minute mock "sci-fi opus" is a video accompaniment to Leonard Nimoy's 1969 monologue "Visit to a Sad Planet," which is but one in a long series of monologues, poems, and spoken-word pieces recorded by Nimoy and Shatner in the late 60s. If you can't find the old LPs, this particular cut is available on the duo's spoken word anthology Spaced Out.

In March 2001, I decided I wanted to make a video that was an actual movie, rather than the usual travelogues and mini-documentaries I had been making. When I heard an MP3 of Sad Planet, I knew I had found my subject. Since the piece was so obvious and sophomoric, I wanted the movie to have the same feel (to play on the camp atmosphere of the monologue), so I chose overly literal visuals to go along with each segment of audio. I recorded an hour of source footage on weekends and afternoons over the course of two months, and it was pretty painful to edit the scenes down to just 1-3 seconds each.

The hardest scene to get, believe it or not, was the two seconds of a woman's hand working an old-fashioned adding machine. Typewriters and adding machines just aren't made anymore, and finding a place that sells them is almost impossible. Berkeley Office Machines turned out to be one of two places in America that still does (according to them, anyway), and they were always closed on the weekends. I finally found someone there on a Sunday morning, and begged and pleaded until they let me in, then begged and pleaded some more until they let me shoot. The hand you see there is that of the woman who caved in to my pathetic begging. Sometimes you have to grovel in this world.

I actually wrote to Nimoy's record company to try and get permission to use the monologue with the video (since I had once intended to exhibit this at AntEye or iFilm or similar), but never heard back from them.

Sad Planet was shot on a Sony TRV-8 MiniDV cam. The movie was edited in Adamation's personalStudio [no longer available], an inexpensive, real-time, 10-layer NLE for BeOS and (later) Windows that was once the premiere NLE for BeOS. I used to work for Adamation, and this piece doubled as a test bed during the Windows porting process. There are a couple of small editing bugs I couldn't resolve in the beta of personalStudio which wouldn't be there if I were making this now, but what the hey, it's just for fun.

If you visit now, you will find no reminder or remnanants of the Adamation that once was. Kind of sad.

- Scot Hacker