Home In Search Of The Valley: DVD movie released today

In Search Of The Valley: DVD movie released today

A new documentary on Silicon
premieres today on DVD. It was directed by my friend Steve O’Hear,
who I met over the Web earlier this year and now work with on my corporate
blogging project called Micro Media Corp. ‘In Search of the Valley’ is a movie
which tells the story of three friends’ personal journey in September of 2004
into the psyche of Silicon Valley. Steve and his pals spent one month visiting
and talking to many of the valley’s luminaries, including Apple’s Steve Wozniak,
Adobe’s John Warnock, and Craig Newmark of Craigslist.org. The film also
features Apple alumni Guy Kawasaki, Sandy Miranda, Andy Hertzfeld, Dan Kottke,
and the late Jef Raskin, as well as the computer pioneer Lee Felsenstein, Tim
and Marc Canter.

The DVD is being distributed via the Amazon-owned Customflix and is available
to order from the film’s website
for $19.99 (available in NTSC only, which is region-free). What’s more, R/WW
readers save $2
when ordering by using the following discount code:
. I need to point out that I’m not getting any cut of the sale for
this post. I’m recommending the movie because I watched and enjoyed an early
preview – and I think R/WW readers will also enjoy it. Here is the film trailer,

on YouTube

The film really resonated with me – as someone who has also searched
for the spirit of Silicon Valley
. There is an especially poignant moment
midway through when Steve played piano with
Apple great
Jef Raskin (the father of the Mac), who sadly passed away in Feb
2005 – just 5 months after Steve and friends visited him in his home.

Steve O’Hear with Jef Raskin


To celebrate the launch, I interviewed Steve about the making of the film…

Richard: What did you learn about Silicon Valley in the making of
this video, being (like I was when I’ve visited) an outsider looking to find
‘the spirit of the Valley’? Did you find it? 😉

Steve: There is certainly an energy in the Valley, and an attitude and
culture that is conducive to getting things done. As a result, very few of the
people we approached for an interview questioned whether our small production
crew could successfully make a film on Silicon Valley. Instead there were offers
of help, and lots of people were willing to open up their contact books and put us in touch with relevant people. John Warnock (co-founder of Adobe) suggested that
a key element of the Valley’s success is that it is acceptable for people to
challenge the existing ways of doing things (without fear of failure)
Something which John referred to as Iconoclast. And I certainly think that this
kind of counterculture – especially when applied to technology and business – is
one of the main reasons why innovation is so prevalent in Silicon Valley.

Other important aspects to the Valley’s success are obviously its long
history of engineering and its strong ties with forward thinking universities,
Stanford and Berkley. I also wouldn’t underestimate the role of Venture Capital
– without which it becomes a lot harder to start a new company.

However, before we set out to make the documentary, Lee Felsenstein (a
pioneer of personal computing) advised me to view Silicon Valley more as a
state of mind
rather than a physical area. And he warned that capturing that
state of mind, in its entirety, would be impossible because the Valley’s always
changing. In fact, very few of the people we talked to were originally from the
Bay area, and so I’d suggest that the continuing influx of talented and creative
people, who come to the Valley to pursue their own dreams and ambitions, is also
a key driver of its success.

Richard: What were some of the key moments in the video – in terms
of people you met or discussions that took place?

Steve: There are so many but I don’t want to give them all away!

The film starts with looking at Silicon Valley’s early history, with Andy
Hertzfeld taking us to the original HP garage (the so-called birthplace of
Silicon Valley). We then go on to explore the valley’s culture, with reference
to San Francisco and Berkley, and the story of the Home Brew Computer club –
with Lee Felsenstien and Steve Wozniak giving us a really interesting insight
into what drove the personal computer revolution.

Next up, we ask what motivates innovation in the valley. Is it making
money or something more profound like changing the world? This is one of the key
questions that the film attempts to answer.

We also retell the story of Macintosh and hear from many Apple alumni
including Guy Kawasaki, Dan Kottke, and (as already mentioned) Andy Hertzfeld.
In fact, one of my favourite parts of the movie is when I get to share the piano
with the late Jef Raskin, who was responsible for starting the Macintosh project
while an early employee of Apple. As I like to tell it, I jammed with the Mac

Later, the movie takes on a more down-beat mood as we hear firsthand about
the dot-com boom and bust. Our visit was in late 2004 and the Valley was
still very much in recovery. Insights come from Tim O’Reilly, Brian Behlendorf,
Bruce Damer, Marc Canter, Sally Richards, and Craig Newmark.

Richard: How did you get access to the people and places?

Steve: Before we got out to the Valley, we spent months researching
the film. Lots of people were approached by email and we encouraged everybody
who we contacted to give us the names of other interviewees who we should
approach. For example, Tim O’Reilly (whom I’d met previously at a conference)
was very generous in his introductions. The hardest to pin down was probably Woz,
who actually asked us during the interview how we’d got through to him. Although
he said he was glad that we did! A few of the people in the movie we made
contact with once we’d arrived in the Bay area. The John Warnock interview was
particularly fortunate as we met somebody who worked at Adobe and was friends
with John’s son. All we were were hoping for was a tour of the Adobe building,
but luckily things escalated and we found ourselves interviewing John by his
pool-side. Another highlight was when Bruce Damer gave us a private tour of his
Digibarn Museum.

Richard: A continuing thread throughout the video was discussion of
Steve Jobs – most people you interviewed had an opinion on him, not always
favorable! What did you make of Steve Jobs after all that discussion?

Steve: I like and admire Steve Jobs, although I’ve never met
him! In fact the closest I’ve come is to be in the audience during a few of his
famous keynote presentations. So, what I tried to explore in the film was the
aura and mythology of Steve Jobs – not Steve personally. Throughout the film we
hear from those who have actually worked for or with Steve Jobs, as well as
others in the industry who only know him by reputation. The overriding view
is that he is a genius
but (and perhaps because of this) he can also be
difficult to work with.

Richard: How did you make use of Social Web technologies like blogs
and media sharing? I hear you used customflix.com – what for exactly and why did
you choose it?

Steve: We kept a
blog of the trip
and have used Google Video and YouTube to release teasers
and a trailer for the film. I did attempt to set up a MySpace page, but that
site really sucks when it comes to usability – so I gave up! For our DVD
distribution we’ve chosen to use the on-demand DVD duplication service
Customflix (which gets a big mention in Chris Anderson’s Long Tail). It offers
Independent filmmakers a low cost way of releasing their work on DVD.


In Search of the Valley is an enjoyable film and it’s an excellent
independent film project, which I know Steve has worked very hard on over the
past few years. Don’t forget that R/WW readers save $2 when ordering by using
the following discount code: JF9G55CU. For more info, visit the film website, insearchofthevalley.com.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.