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The Picture Taking Experiment
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The Picture Taking Experiment

An elderly man living in obscurity in the suburbs of Los Angeles tells the story of when, in the summer of 1965, he inadvertently produced the world’s first up-close image of another planet the world had ever seen.

When we look past the names in the pages of our history books, we see that behind every great achievement, there were countless women and men who simply put in the hours, day after day for the entire expanse of their careers, to further the cause. People who despite their contributions toiled away in obscurity and would remain there the rest of their lives. Heroism is more than that spontaneous act of bravery. Sometimes the heroic act involves simply showing up and doing the work, driven not by the desire to see one’s name appear in a history book, but by the simple desire to do exceptional work for a cause in which you believe. Richard Grumm is one of those people.

I first met Richard in 2017 when he was volunteering at my kids’ school, Highland Oaks Elementary School in Arcadia, Calif., where he was managing a small A/V club. When my schedule would allow, I’d meet up with Richard to help kids film choir performances and morning announcements. Much like myself, Richard is a man of few words. Our interactions were brief and neither of us talked much about ourselves. That’s just how it was.

One day I caught the tail end of a conversation between teachers in which Richard’s name came up. Something about the way they talked about him gave me the strong impression that there was more to Richard than many of us knew. A few years later when the world was on pause due to COVID-19, my friend and producing partner on this project, Jim Gohrick, and I thought we’d invite Richard over to my house to share more about his story. This film is the result of those conversations.