Wednesday, March 14, 2007

3. The Company

With some decent takes in the can, I started to contemplate the next part of the project. Stage two - transferring the film into a hologram had all the potential to be a nightmare from Hell. Not because of any overriding technical problems but rather the difficulties that were sure to arise dealing with the Company.

You see, there was only one company in the world that could do the holographic processing I needed – and that was in San Francisco. In the previous 5 years, we had had all of our jobs done there.
However, the Company (as I will call them) was somewhat unusual; it was originally founded in 1973/4 by 35 partners. It became a “shining example” of post-hippy entrepreneurialism – although many would argue that describing this company as “post-hippy” is being far too generous with the truth.

The 35 were probably the most colourful, diverse group of bizarre individuals that had ever assembled in the name of furthering American capitalism. Apart from the standard variety of space cowboy, there were many more exotic forms, some of whom had still not managed to land back on Planet Earth since departing years earlier in the days when LSD was considered as much a part of youthful living as “Latte” is today.

But the 35 were much more diverse. There were poets, artists, body painters, Sasquatch hunters, UFO watchers, macrobiotic eaters and followers of every guru to have ever claimed a convert on Venice Beach, and heading this amazing collection of human diversity was the manager of the Company - Chris.
Chris was a very intelligent guy, an intuitive inventor who had a number of patents to his name. But behind all the marijuana smoke and painted mirrors, nothing was as it seemed. It was rumoured (although I never found anyone to confirm this) that he was a cross dresser. Most afternoons, it was said, he used to breeze through the factory surveying the holographic production process wearing his favourite ankle-length dress – a rather surrealistic and comical affair, to say the least, especially as he tended to have irregular shaving habits.

What was immediately apparent was this company did not possess any resources that had been formally trained in business management. Profit and Loss, Business plan, Return on Investment, Total Cost of Ownership and Project deliverables were all abstract concepts that did not resonate at their shareholder meetings.

Projects would get delivered in a rather dynamic, ad hoc fashion usually determined by the number of people that had shown up for work on any particular day and the time of the month when income was needed to pay the rent.
Well that is the way it used to be from my earlier visits.

Imagine my horror, therefore, when I got a message from Leopold telling me that The Dutch Secret Service had called him and had “kindly” offered their services to arrange the delivery and pick up of the film to and from our processors in San Francisco. Just the image of someone from the Dutch embassy sitting opposite Chris (or any other partner , for that matter), one afternoon, discussing the planning for the hologram was enough to get me on the phone without delay
After some lengthy explanations about the “complicated” process of this still-cutting edge technology, they agreed that it was better to let me go and arrange the project on the spot myself. I was on my way.

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