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The “one person making a movie in their bedroom” meme was mine. I pitched it, I believed it, I admired the people who practiced it. Not surprisingly, A:M was designed for those people. Though there was immense pressure to make A:M a “tool” for a “production environment,” (which consequently compromised Hash as a company), in the end, the “one guy, one computer” ideology remained because I was the last-man-standing.
Of all the great one-man-show animators who used A:M, no one embodied the lone-gunslinger concept better than Stephen Millingen. In fact, his first “Mosey” animations with A:M were of a little gunslinger with a penchant for a beautiful gunslingeress. Not knowing a thing about Stephen or ever even hearing about him through Product Support, those first couple of animations that showed up in the late-1990s were definitely among my favorites. Stephen’s sense of awe-and-wonder must spring from the same well as my own.
In 2005, when Hash blew-up due to the person-vs-production battle, my son, Heath, exhibited A:M at a tradeshow in Britain where he met Stephen Millingen in person. They went out for a pint, where Stephen gave Heath a DVD with several minutes of the most appealing animation I have ever seen: “Briar Rose.” The first time I watched it, I was highly skeptical that it was done with A:M. (You’ve got to remember during that time-period, every “tool” animator and their mother was claiming they had to change products because A:M wasn’t good enough. So-much-so that they had convinced me. This is the biggest detriment of being close to the users.)
I immediately called Stephen, told him how much I liked his worked, and offered him $200K to finish the movie – frankly, more money than I had but I got into the programming business for just this kind of nirvana. Alas, Stephen had been peer-influenced, and already moved-on to greener 3D-software pastures. I couldn’t blame him – Hash itself was then currently subject to internal betrayal, unfashionable, and battling a poisoned cabal of intense haters on the Internet. As-far-as-I-know, “Briar Rose” was never finished in any software, but the part that was made with A:M will always be dear to my heart.