When I set out on this whole "BBS Documentary" project, it had been almost
a decade since I had touched audiovisual equipment on this scale, and I'd
certainly never tried a project as huge and involved as this one. I knew that
whoever the first interview was was going to have to basically put up with
delays, weird-acting equipment, and my own stumbling attempts to organize
a good shot. To that end, I decided that this person should be someone I
knew, someone familiar with being interviewed on camera, and someone located
nearby in case I wanted to come back later and try again. The person who
fit this bill was Count Zero.
He got (and still occasionally gets) a lot of press and media attention being
a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow, and so I wasn't worried about him
freezing up or acting differently just because there was a camera in the room.
We were friends going way back, so there wasn't going to be any discomfort or
weirdness asking about his past, and I also therefore knew my subject well.
Compared to later interviews, I completely overworked the lighting in the
shot, adding all three of my lights in and carefully arranging them in an
"artistic" fashion. I also found out the hard way how not to set up a light
when it started to smoke quite noticably after a few minutes. Actually, it
was the small screen one puts in front of the bulb burning off my oils, but
the place smelled a tad funny after that.
Count Zero had a great apartment to film in, a stunning room with spiral
staircase and bizarre creatures, both stuffed and living. It's not quite
noticable in a lot of the video footage, but the whole time he's talking,
he has a very large millipede on his left arm. He also has a stuffed coyote
named "Woofy" in the background as well.
This interview has a lot of the natures of the first few interviews: overshooting
(2 and a half hours of footage), sub-optimal sound (I was still shooting
with the onboard mic, so this is one of the few interviews shot in stereo)
and only a vague idea of where the documentary was heading in terms of specific
We covered everything from Count Zero's initial days with his Atari to the
l0pht and ATDT, as well as a lot of stuff in between. It was a great interview,
with some truly touching moments as well as hilarious details about the
Massachusetts BBS world that I had no idea about, a feeling I'd be getting
in a lot of interviews afterwards. Zero found it quite relaxing to drink
and smoke on camera, as well as go anywhere he wanted to with the interview.
All in all, a solid first session; my concerns brought under control, my
start on this phenomenally large project made easier, thanks to my friend
giving me a headstart.
We talked a lot afterwards about my heady plans for the project, and as he
has done before and since that interview, Count Zero gave me the fullest of
his support and faith, and sent me on my way.