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Adam Savage, The Man Behind The Myth

Conferences SXSW

Adam Savage, The Man Behind The Myth

Eric Knowlson March 10, 2014

Most of us would recognize Adam Savage if we saw him. His broad forehead, black-rimmed glasses, reddish blonde goatee and beaming smile have become instantly recognizable aspects of his physical appearance. When we watch him laugh and effortlessly explain theories on television he begins to seem larger than life, he begins to seem almost mythic. Appearing as a mythical being is a common consequence of being a television personality. Often when we look beyond a person’s television personality we find they are just normal human beings. But when I looked behind Adam Savages’ MythBusters television personality he began to seem even more impressive. I found he is truly a Jack-of-all-trades. Extremely accomplished and dedicated, he has dabbled in tons of various creative outlets ranging from acting to sculpting. Also he is always working on new projects. It appears his lust for knowledge is insatiable. In short, I was able to “confirm” the myth of Adam Savage.

Like I mentioned above Adam Savage is most recognizable from the television show MythBusters. The show is a quirky fun ride using scientific theory and innovative thinking to “confirm” or “bust” myths.  Adam’s co-host is Jamie Hyneman. Jamie was originally approached by MythBusters’ producers alone, and asked to be the host for the show. Jamie mulled it over before coming to the conclusion that he wouldn’t be interesting enough to carry the audiences’ attention throughout each episode. He must have remembered his friend Adam’s dynamic personality because he called him up and asked if he would like to be a co-host on the show. Jamie and Adam have worked on projects before. The most notable is their collaboration on “Blendo”, a robot built for the 1996 Robot Wars. Blendo won the competition twice.  Jamie was onto something with Adam; their two personalities completely contrast and compliment each other. Adam’s goofiness goes well with the quiet mysteriousness of Jamie. In fact most viewers couldn’t imagine a MythBusters with only Adam or with only Jamie. The two started shooting the show in 2002 and now twelve years and 15 seasons later the show is still going strong. It is one of the longest running shows on the discovery channel.

Adam was born in New York City, New York but grew up in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Since a young age he was familiar with special effects and television; his father worked on the show Sesame Street as a puppeteer. Young Adam began acting at a early age. Some of his most notable early roles were in a Billy Joel music video and a Charmin toilet paper commercial.

As a child he also discovered his love of building and creating. He began constructing toys at the age of five. The building of toys as a child turned into the building of sets, props and models for movies as an adult. Though he actually still builds toys today.

He has worked in the special effects industry for almost a decade. Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects company of George Lucas, is one of his many employers. Star Wars episodes 1 and 2, Space Cowboys, Terminator 3, the Matrix sequels, Galaxy Quest and Bicentennial Man are just a few of the movies he has worked on. He has also worked over a hundred television commercials and created a few of his own short films. On his website www.adamsavage.com you can browse through pictures of the models, sets and toys he has constructed.

Another one of Adam’s Passions is sculpting. He considers it his “art”. His sculptures have appeared in a multitude of art galleries located in Charlestown, New York and San Francisco. The first sculpture Adam made was a life-size, almost exact replica of a dodo bird skeleton.  The sculpture was so accurate it is now on display in a museum.

These are just a few of Adam’s endeavors. The list could go on forever. Adam is certainly a lover of creation and experience, it is clear he is always yearning for knowledge. One of his famous quotes is “I reject your reality and substitute my own.” I think this quote accurately portrays the positive and innovative attitude that has taken him so far in life.

With these skills and passion for knowledge it is no surprise that SXSW Interactive has chosen him to be one of the keynote speakers at their festival. South By South West Interactive (SXSW Interactive for short) is a festival designed to be a breeding ground for new ideas and technologies. The festival itself has speakers, events, shows and parties. Mr. Savage will be speaking Monday, March 10 at 2:00pm as part of the Keynote speaker series sponsored by IEEE. IEEE is a professional organization dedicated to advancing technology. Their speaker series is going to focus on “emerging technology and development in areas such as robotics, augmented reality, healthcare, Internet of Things, privacy, and security.”  Adam himself says, “I’m crazy excited to be coming to SXSW. That I’m coming with a partner as committed to innovation and wonder as IEEE seems a perfect fit. A match made in heaven.”  With his mythic personality and Jack-of-all-trades skills that are devoted to technology and creation I also can’t help but be “crazy excited” as well. The unique and task oriented mind of Adam Savage will certainly have something interesting to say, something you won’t want to miss.

Eric Knowlson

Eric is a lover of the written word, the world around him and new experiences. He studied creative writing at the University of New Mexico.

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