I’ve always been fascinated by the details of getting places. Bill Becker would often say that the best part of a trip for me was getting there and back—what happened while I was there was less important. Figuring out how to get from one place to another is a hobby—I read the OAG for fun—so the October newsletter’s trivia contest was my idea. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who responded to both questions, the first of which asked you to match ten films with the city in which they take place, and the second to find the shortest way to fly between all ten cities. When Peter and I started discussing the correct answer, we didn’t quite grasp the importance of which crossing to skip—Asia, the Atlantic, or the Pacific. The key was not to fly across Asia. The correct mileage was approximately 14,570 miles, depending upon which atlas you chose. You were entered in the winning drawing even if your mileage didn’t match exactly, as long as your trip started in Rome and ended in Taipei and didn’t fly across Asia. Thanks to everyone who entered. We realize it was a fair amount of work, so we issued three gift certificates instead of one.
As I said, I’ve always been taken by the idea of flying—waking up in the morning in New York and arriving in Los Angeles in time for a late breakfast. Had my eyesight not been so bad, I would have tried to become a pilot, but that wasn’t to be. I had a brief stint working at NASA, but spent all my time in the office and newsroom, so that didn’t scratch my itch all that well. Happily, traveling for work has been an exciting benefit of distributing films from around the world. For years, we had offices in both New York and Santa Monica, California. I would fly back and forth every other week. These were the days before 9/11, and flying was easy and fun. I got to know cabin crews. I would leave my Santa Monica office at 3:15 and still make the 3:45 flight, all the while racking up hundreds of thousands of miles and achieving Gold Elite status on Continental and 1k status on United.
Those days are gone, but a couple of trips stand out for me. After my father died in 1986, I was asked to go to Tokyo to meet with Toho Studios and talk about our future plans for the distribution of their films. In addition, the Jerusalem Festival was dedicated to my father that year. I decided to combine the trips, but it was before the era when flights were allowed over the Soviet Union, so the shortest flight from Tokyo back to Tel Aviv was through New York. There was no way I was stopping back home, so I looked for another route. For those curious, it ended up LGA, DFW, NRT, ANC, AMS, TLV, JFK. The flight from Anchorage to Amsterdam was over the North Pole, complete with polar reflective emergency suits.
Another time I was heading to Milia, an interactive media show in the south of France. We were involved in discussions with MGM, and the only date for a meeting was the day I was scheduled to leave. I flew from New York to Los Angeles in the morning and then took the red-eye from L.A. to Paris, which got into Paris the next evening and connected on to Nice, and arrived in time for dinner, some twenty-seven hours after I left New York.
This past year has seen a lot of traveling for work, although others take most of the trips now. In search of films, we traveled to Berlin, Paris, Cannes, Bologna, Toronto, and L.A. And our technical crew did new film transfers in London, Tokyo, Paris, Rome, and Prague. We are very lucky in our business. The people and places we see are wonderful, but for me, getting there (and back) will always be more than half the fun.