I first remember seeing Erik Sharkey, the director of the wonderful documentary DREW: THE MAN BEHIND THE POSTER, when the film screened at the LA Film Festival within the Hollywood Arclight some years ago. I would see him again at the opening of the 2014 Glendale Forest Lawn art show, featuring the work of both Mr. Struzan and Bob Peak. In both instances, I was too shy and nervous to approach him; the guy seemed to be always flanked by reporters, or VIPs, or engaged in conversations that I dared not interrupt or intrude upon. Nevermind that Erik's also about seven feet tall, while I stand a whopping 5' 10" (or perhaps 5' 9" now -- I think I'm shrinking, and I usually walk with a somewhat stooped-over hunch.)
I finally communicated with Erik through Facebook sometime later, telling him how much I enjoyed his film, and appreciated our shared love of movie poster art. Since then, Erik and I have talked numerous times, exchanging stories about the challenges and drama of our respective film projects, our love of movies, and mutual screen heroes. Needless to say, his advice and guidance have been invaluable. Though I have no idea how my little no-budget film could ever measure up to what Erik accomplished, he has always been extremely encouraging and inspiring.
When Erik visited Los Angeles last September to promote his new documentary, FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE, we made sure to finally have a proper face-to-face meeting over lunch on the WB lot. Whatever nerves I had were put at ease when he expressed his support of my project.
"You're doing it, man," he told me.
"I'm shooting on a $500 HD camcorder, instead of a $50,000 Red Digital camera," I sighed. "And my 'budget' is what's leftover on my credit cards. And my savings. I'm putting everything I have into this."
"But you're doing it. You're telling Amsel's story."
"My name is mud with some people over this," I said. "They hate me, and they're desperate for me to fail."
"But you're the one who's been fighting to preserve Amsel's legacy. Not them," he said.
Erik, I can't thank you enough.
Erik has written a lovely article featured in yesterday's HUFFINGTON POST on the work of Drew Struzan, Bob Peak, and Richard Amsel. They are often referred to as the "Trinity" of artists whose work defined what was, in my mind, the last Golden Age of movie poster illustration. Erik graciously mentioned my documentary in the article. (And no, I didn't put him up to it.)
While I'm sad that I never got to meet Amsel or Peak, I'm extremely greatful to have talked to many of Amsel's friends and colleagues for the documentary, as well as very insightful and thoughtful discussions with Mr. Peak's sons, Tom and Matthew, and of course the great Mr. Struzan himself.