Hello! First up, thank you for having Sarah and I on the panel! It's awesome to be here. You'll have to excuse the slightly weird hours I'm keeping whilst I'm here. I'm British and based in London and even though I've been back from the States since Saturday I'm suffering from the worst jet lag. I'm a champion napper (nap-er?) so keeping to a regular sleeping pattern is not one of my strong suits...
I've also been brought up to believe that those that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones so I'm aware of the dangers of correcting the moderator (even worse, offending the host!) but I wasn't the only person behind the film who wasn't involved in General Magic the company. We're an incredibly small team (see the photo below) but the majority of the crew who worked on the film didn't work at General Magic back in the 90's. I was 4 years old when General Magic was spun out of Apple. My brother Jay - the other cinematographer on the film - was two!
Answering your question though...
There was something in the original concept that drew us all to making this film. First up is the footage. You can't make a story like this without great access to both the contributors to the film and the archive footage. We couldn't have told the film without the help of the people who kept the footage for over two decades. The filmmaker (and wonder that is) David Hoffman, chief among them. David's team shot the original footage back in 1992. Once combined with home movie footage and photographs shot by 'Magicians' (General Magic employees) it made the documentary possible.
What attracted me personally to the film was three things. One was the opportunity to work with Sarah Kerruish. She's an incredible filmmaker and over the last three years I've learnt so much working with her, both professionally and personally. She is AMAZING.
The second was to address something I've always thought about Silicon Valley. As you mentioned I'm not a technologist. I'm not particularly interested in technology. But I'm fascinated by the idea that huge tech companies personify themselves as a single person. When you think of Facebook you think of Mark Zuckerberg. Tesla, Elon Musk. Still to this day Apple is personified as Steve Jobs. It creates this illusion that the entire success of the company is due to one individual. It creates this superhero like persona around the person. That's not real. The success of any company is built on the decisions, potential and actions of tens, hundreds or thousands of individuals. Watching through the original archive footage in General Magic I was struck about how 'ordinary' the scenes felt. Young people sitting on the floor discussing with one another. Taking the piss out of each other. The more research time I spent with the footage the more blown away by it I was. In the footage was the founders of Ebay, Linkdin and Nest in their 20's. The makers of Android, Dreamweaver, the Mac in the photographs. The question I began to form was, what were the lessons learnt at General Magic that helped create the technology we now use today? How did so many people so successful / influential come from such a small team?
I fundamentally believe that extraordinary people are ordinary people doing something extra.
With that in mind, what was the extra ingredients at General Magic that made this ordinary group people capable of the extraordinary? That was a question that many of who worked on the film wanted to both understand, capture and produce.
Lastly, as a director I want to make films that move people. There seemed such a rich tapestry of emotions within the film. The joy of creating something with your friends, the Hubris, the desperation when it doesn't work. The grief of when something fails. What that devastation feels like. Overcoming that, learning from your mistakes. The success in changing the world. What these people and their ideas have brought to our lives.
Hopefully that answers your question!
(this is our team below, left to right)Adam Greenup - Associate ProducerJay Maude - CinematographerReynold D'Silva - Executive ProducerFawna Xiao - Production ManagerMabel Evans - Production AssistantDee Gardetti - CoProducer (former Head of HR at General Magic)Claire Ferguson - Senior EditorSteve Maller - Aerial Cinematographer (former Engineer at General Magic)Sarah Kerruish - Director / Producer / Writer (former filmmaker at General Magic)Emma Sinclair - Development ConsultantMe - Director / Producer / WriterToby Warren - Post Production Coordinator / Additional EditorMichael Stern - Story / Executive Producer (Legal Counsel at General Magic)Clare Willan - Production ManagerAnna Meller - EditorCeridwen Tallett - Story / CoProducerKeith Ferreira - Associate Producer
(notable team people missing from this photo are John Giannandrea, the other executive producer of the film. One of our writers Jonathan Key, production manager Juline Hobbs. Our archivist Joanna Allen and the composer Benji Merrison.)