Del Oro grad's titles give Clooney film a lofty start

By: Gus Thomson, Gold Country News Service
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Moviegoers get a sweeping view of landscapes shot from thousands of feet above the ground during the opening titles sequence for the new George Clooney movie “Up in the Air.” With retro R&B group Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings providing their musical take on Woody Guthrie’s anthemic “This Land Is Your Land” during the sequence, the geometrics of the geography unfold 30,000 feet below the camera. It’s detached yet surprisingly intimate. And it’s a strikingly beautiful opening for “Up in the Air,” a movie that went from limited to widespread theatrical release last weekend and tells the tale of a resolute air traveler, played by Clooney. The titles are the brainchild of ex-Auburnite Gareth Smith, a Los Angeles-based title designer whose work has already set the table for two previous Jason Reitman films – “Juno” and “Thank You for Smoking.” Smith, who grew up in rural Auburn and graduated from Del Oro High School, initially was working with a Hank Williams song “Ramblin’ Man” and had been toying with the idea of using primitive animation techniques that were so successful for “Juno.” But with a change in song, his ShadowPlay studio took a different direction, coming up with a detached view of the world that better fits Clooney’s airport-loving character in the comedy-drama. If “Juno” is any indication, expect plenty of awards buzz in coming weeks. “Up In The Air” has already been nominated for six Golden Globes. And Smith, who cut his cinematic teeth filming from the halls of Del Oro, is part of the excitement. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or 530-852-0232.