- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Marriage proposals are as varied as the people who make them, but Lainie Belitz had no idea what her computer-wielding boyfriend, Joshua Rafofsky, had in store for her until the house lights in the movie theater went down.
Miss Belitz and Mr. Rafofsky were no strangers to technology or each other: They met through an online dating service, exchanged e-mails before meeting at a coffee shop in Los Angeles, and from there began a romance. Though both were movie buffs, neither was "in the business," as is said here: She's a project manager for a large insurance group, while he runs a computer consulting firm that helps small companies with their information-technology issues.
But Mr. Rafofsky, who says he got his first computer at age 13 (he's 30 now) and "never used a typewriter," is an aficionado when it comes to the Apple Macintosh, and is now a virtuoso in the use of iMovie, an Apple-created software program that lets people create and edit short digital films.
All this came together one Wednesday evening a few months back, when Mr. Rafofsky took Miss Belitz to the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles, believed to be the only film house in the U.S. devoted to silents. They were a little late for the beginning of a Buster Keaton feature, and after that film ended, Mr. Rafofsky told his girlfriend to stay in her seat.
Another film, sepia-toned and scratchy, then filled the screen. It was a short about a young man searching for love, describing his "dream girl" to a caricature artist on the promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., and ending up with a sketch and a search for "The Girl In The Picture."
As old-time piano music played, "our intrepid hero" encounters women in supermarkets, on unsuccessful dates, and finally in a dimly lit bar where a potential match stands up and towers over him. The movie's final scene is at an outdoor coffee shop, where Mr. Rafofsky unrolls the sketch one last time, turns it toward the camera and mouths a proposal.
I wasn't in the theatre that night, but I'll bet there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Miss Belitz said yes, family appeared from the shadows for a quick celebration and the couple have begun to plan a wedding in New York City in February of 2003. A magazine called "Bridal Guide" received a contest entry from the couple, and editors there aptly decided that Mr. Rafofsky and Miss Belitz were "America's most romantic couple." I understand that Bethesda-based cable network The Learning Channel will feature the nuptials on its "A Wedding Story" television program.
Along with being a romantic, Mr. Rafofsky was also one of America's most inventive single men: Using a borrowed digital camera, his Macintosh skills, iMovie and an Adobe Corp. program called "After Effects" to give the film that "silent movie" look, he created something that was very professional, even though he insists this is his very first effort at making a short film. I've seen the movie you can view it online at www.thegirlinthepicture.com and it looks thoroughly professional; its impact was direct and touching.
Apple Computer, which has an interest in promoting its iMovie editing software and QuickTime streaming-media software, featured Mr. Rafofsky's film in an e-mail newsletter, and it has drawn e-mail responses from around the world. Mr. Rafofsky related in a telephone interview that one correspondent wrote, "The best art is not done for fame or money, but for love."
There's no talk of an Academy Award yet, but it's clear that Mr. Rafofsky's work has won him an even greater prize.
Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Send e-mail to [email protected], or visit his Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk to him live Fridays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST on www.adrenalineradio.com.

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