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As promised, here’s the picture of Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs at the Walt Disney Studios Senior Summit

(I did the “STUDIOS” lettering on the slide there because it was pretty lousy when I got the graphic… Seeing that and Steve Jobs in the same picture is pretty cool for me.)

I did not post anything on The Forum for so long because I was working production for the BVHE Sales Meeting at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood. It was a nice show. We got to see the original voice of Wendy and Alice, Kathryn Beaumont, in a live, on-stage interview with Leonard Maltin. (I even got to use my “Voice of God” skills to introduce them!) We also had the creator and producer of Grey’s Anatomy on stage to talk and answer questions. We also got to see The Guardian with Messrs. Costner and Kutcher. It was okay.

At the end of the Sales Meeting, we walked away and left our equipment set up, because the very next week was a huge Walt Disney Studios “Senior Summit” that Chuck and I were lucky enough to be asked to work. Since we had the whole A/V set-up in place and we knew how to run it, why not just use both our equipment and our highly-tuned and super mad skillz?

The Senior Summit was much more flashy than anything we puny BVHEans get to do. It was hosted by Dick Cook, the Studio Chairman. There were lots of interesting things to hear and see. We got to watch three movies: The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D (okay movie, pretty cool 3D); The Prestige (good; very intriguing and mysterious); and Déjà Vu (preposterous). We got to see Jerry Bruckheimer, John Lasseter, Alan Menken, and Amy Adams. John showed us clips from some upcoming Pixar movies. Ratatouille, the next movie to be released, looks fantastic. As one of the techies on the show, I got to see some clips from a robot movie Pixar is working on. In the end, the clips were not shown to the audience, however, so I feel kinda lucky to have seen them.

The night before the second day, we were asked to make a few extra cards for the screen. One said, “…And there’s one more thing.” Well, I knew exactly what that meant, and all night, I was silly-goofy excited that one of the surprise speakers that next day would be Steve Jobs himself. I did not hope too hard, though, because Steve is not one to just pop on down to give a talk to a bunch of executives.

The next day was pretty exciting. Robert Zemeckis came to talk about a “beyond motion capture” technology company he was starting up with Disney. (The technology was used, to creepy effect, in The Polar Express.) Then Johnny Depp came up to chat with Dick and answer questions from the audience. And finally, as I had hoped, Steve Jobs came up on stage.

And boy, did he talk! Not in length, mind you, but in honesty. He pulls no punches. The basic gist of his talk (I do not call it a speech because it was so laid back and casual) was that Disney is the only studio to have a true brand, and we’ve squandered that brand for years. Instead of nurturing it, we’ve abused it. Specifically, he talked about quality, echoing the concepts Dick and John had hammered home the day before. Releasing low-quality sequels to our famous and beloved movies may produce great financial returns in the short run, but in the long run, we bankrupt our savings account.

See, Steve said loyalty to a brand is like a savings account. In the case of a studio, when it releases well-done, smart, story-driven movies that people love, the public makes a deposit into that “loyalty” account. But every crappy movie or sequel after that causes people to make withdrawals from that account.

It was very smart, very TRUE, and I only hope Dick and everyone else in power here makes an honest effort to worry about quality over quick profits.

Then Steve took questions from the crowd, which was pretty cool. He answered questions on the iPod, the iTunes Store, his role as board member and largest share-holder, and other sundry topics. His answer to every one was enthralling. To me, anyway.

Of all the people in the world, Steve Jobs is not only the one guy I have always wanted to see live, but he’s the one guy I never thought I would see live. I did get to sit in on a video conference years ago when the DVD release of Monsters, Inc. was being discussed here at Disney… it was the meeting where it was decided to produce a new short exclusively for the DVD (Mike’s New Car). But a video conference is not the same as seeing someone on stage in front of you. I was contained on the outside, but revving on the inside the entire time he was on stage.


John Expounded Thusly:

What I like best about your description, I think, is that there were hundreds of executives from The Walt Disney Company in the audience, their biggest shareholder gets up to talk to (and chastise) them — and then they ask questions about the iPod and iTunes Store. They’ve got a chance to ask the biggest shareholder what they could be doing better, and they squander that opportunity asking about his other company. That’s awesome!

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 • 11:08am • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Well, there were questions about his role on the board and as the biggest shareholder, and asking about iTunes is pretty relevant since the whole movie thing there was top-of-mind (it had been less than a month since the intro of Disney movies on iTunes). But you’re right… that his other company is so much more interesting and doing such amazing and creative things is not lost on anyone, I don’t think!

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 • 11:36am • Permalink

The Wren Forum » Zen and Jobs and Gates Expounded Thusly:

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