Big Buck Bunny

Jon

Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jul 20, 2008 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

A lot of you have heard of or seen "Big Buck Bunny," the latest animated production from the same people that brought you "Elephant's Dream", the Blender Foundation.

And most of you know that "BBB" (as it is fondly known) was created with the Free Software named Blender. Some of you even know that not only is the entire movie under Creative Commons license, but that all of the intermediate parts are also under Creative Commons and available for download over the Internet. The Blender Foundation encourages you to change the movie, come up with different endings, different characters, or follow-ons to the movie.

What you probably do not know is how much this movie means to me.

Several years ago the Creative Commons organization had just gotten off the ground. I had heard of it, and looked at it briefly, but with everything else that was going on in the Free Software space, I did not pay as much attention to it as I should.

Then one time I was at a conference in Brazil called FISL, and they wanted me to participate in the dedication of a Brazilian branch of Creative Commons. Larrence Lessig was going to be there, along with the Minister of Culture for Brazil, a man named Gilberto Gil.

Now of the United States were to have a "Minister of Culture", the President would probably appoint Dick Cheney. In the case of Brazil, President Lula appointed their best pop star.

As I prepared my speech for this very formal event, I went onto the Internet and really explored what the Creative Commons was trying to do, and why. The more I explored, the more excited I got. I finally realized that the Creative Commons would do to music and art what Free Software would do to software, and perhaps a lot more.

The time came for the dedication, and Gilberto Gil was not there. He had been delayed by a meeting with President Lula, and was trying to make it to the dedication. Lawrence Lessig started speaking, and in his speech he talked about how he had tried to see Minister Gil, and that the only time he could see the man was at one A.M. at Gilberto's house. They went in, hoping to have a few minutes of his time, and there was Gil, sitting on the floor, playing his guitar and seemingly only half-listening to what Lessig was saying.

After a few minutes Gilberto looked up, said "I read about all of this on the Web...what do we have to do to get this started?" And with that Brazil's Minister of Culture and pop star decided to license some of his work under the Creative Commons.

Lawrence finished his talk and I stood up to give my speech. I was about two sentences into the speech when a disturbance happened at the back of the room and in came Gilberto Gil, to the cheering of the entire room. Gilberto walked up the isle and stood there until the room became quiet again. I looked at him and said "They do not want to hear me, they want to hear you." and I sat down.

I do not remember all that he said that night, but I do know that as an artist he really "got it", and he continues to "get it" with his continued work for the Creative Commons. Later that night he gave a free rock concert for the attendees of the conference, and after that conference he again apologized for interrupting my speech. A true gentleman.

A few months later I was contacted by Gil's agent and invited to a concert he was giving in New York City on September 21st, 2004, again to benefit the Creative Commons. It was to be given at the "Town Hall" theater, with legendary musician David Byrne. Mr. Gil was still trying to "apologize" for interrupting my talk. A great night, I shared it with an old friend who was a David Byrne aficionado.

Now, at long last I have a chance to give something back to Mr. Gil. I bought several copies of BBB on DVD. I could have pulled it down off the Internet and burned them myself, or I could have bought one copy and made duplicates, but I wanted to support the group that had made the movie by purchasing the DVDs. I will send one copy to a friend of mine in Africa who is running a school to teach young black men Digital Photography.

And I will send one copy to Gilberto Gil, to show him what his selfless nature has helped to inspire.

Warmest regards,

maddog

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