Being in the right place at the right time - that's exactly how I felt the moment I climbed the narrow metal stairway leading to the soon-to-be-completed Paradise Ballroom. Never mind the rasping saws and hammering or non-union carpenters yelling at each other across a gutted ballroom. There was a special There's no business like show business ring to it.
"Do you like magic?" someone with a Southern drawl asked above the din.
"Sure," I answered. "I love it!"
"Good," he said extending his hand. "I'm Charlie Patton, and if yer gonna produce the children's theater you gotta use holograms!" He looked at me quizzically. "You ever seen a hologram?"
I shook my head.
Charlie produced a six inch cylinder with a three inch diameter. He maneuvered it beneath a light until he found the image. "A hologram," he explained, "is a lenseless laser photograph. Holo means whole and gram means message. In Greek".
Suddenly, I saw it - a truly three-dimensional canon floating in the center of the hollow tube. Magic -- Holography was a new kind of visual magic! Hold the cylinder at a forty-five degree angle and the canon appears. Move it away from the light and it disappears.
Charlie looked and acted like a thirty-three year old gnome. Medium height, slight beer belly, mischievous, twinkling dark brown eyes. An aging boy who'd been brought to California by Elvis and his Memphis Mafia. Made good money as an art director/designer then spent it all. He was weathering hard times in sunny L.A. along with friends in the film and music business.
I'd seen my first hologram and in doing so had become an instant light junkie. In fact, I was so fascinated by the possibility of three-dimensional images suspended in space that I conceived an idea for a movie, wrote a treatment and two weeks later made a development deal.
On February 18, 1972 I registered Revelation II, An Original Synopsis for a Screenplay with the Writer's Guild. A check for $2,000 meant that I had the time and mobility to do research on holograms, a scientific medium that had only been around for ten years. There were no books. If you wanted to know how to make a hologram you had to search out the handful of pioneers. Charlie Patton became my guide.