Paying tribute to the digital guru

Watching Charles Swartz direct an Entertainment Technology Center board meeting was a lot like watching a pitcher pitch a perfect game. Every month, the technology royalty of Hollywood would gather in the executive boardroom of this or that Hollywood studio. In front of each attendee was a meticulously prepared packaged digest of an agenda and financial report. As the windup began, and the first pitch crossed the plate — usually some statement of the intent and goal for the meeting — all eyes swung to watch the follow-through.

At one of Charles’ first board meetings as the new ETC executive director, when he came to the end of his presentation and asked for questions, there were laughs and rolled eyes at the very notion that there could be any questions after such a complete and compelling performance.

Who was this guy who could walk you through a financial report as if it was a page-turner?

My friend Charles Swartz was a man of uncommon depth. When he spoke, you gave him your full attention, his resonant, melodious voice overshadowed by his words. And those words made you realize that Charles was literally thoughtful — that is, full of thought.

Charles spoke the industry’s language. He could engage and illuminate in the sensitive dialect of the creative artist, speak to the nuts and bolts of production, finance and distribution, then slip into the geek-speak necessary to hold forth with the industry’s technology leaders.

His contributions were balanced and made possible by a personal life filled with a fondness for travel, fine food and wine, and blessed with a true and deep love — his companion, collaborator and wife of over 40 years, Stephanie Rothman. The depth of Charles’ life and accomplishments will continue to touch the industry, his colleagues and his friends, but will not, for me, fill the void of his passing.

Leon Silverman is president of LaserPacific Media.

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