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Archive for March, 2017

Out of Hybernation

This year I’m taking a close look at my life and the world in general. I’ve always been on the “person to call shortlist” for people in trouble. In those times, I am clever, I understand the job and against all the rock throwing and hair pulling, I’ve pulled young producers out of large financial holes and helped people get shows finished when they were a moment from tipping into the abyss. And there are some producers who find the money, but get shafted along the way because someone who contributed got caught up in their own press, “OH MY GOD I’M A PRODUCER”, and almost capsized the project.

I was a line producer on a project where someone who contributed a small amount to the production talked the producers into letting him direct the project. The same guy showed up to the first production meeting with a girl he had just met on the beach and she informed us that she would be playing one of the characters. I kicked them both out of the production meeting. This guy hates me to this day, but he knew nothing about filmmaking. He was an actor in England and who really knows but…. certainly the exec. producers wouldn’t have let it fly so his days were numbered anyhow.

I was hired late to work a film,  I started the first day of principle photography. The schedule for the show was typed on graph paper using dialogue instead of scene numbers. I asked the 1st AD if he had any software and if not I would loan him my computer to break it down properly. He said this is what the director wanted and that he had just come off a 5 million dollar budgeted film so I didn’t know what I was talking about. This kid’s IMDB page was long but he knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. He behaved as though he knew something about 2nd AD work but…. The crew mutany was embarrassing, they were yelling at him, the executive producers arrived on set that day and asked me what was going on. I explained the problem of which there were many. They said they would have a talk with the producer and director. The next day I was fired. Four days later the exec producers called me and asked me what the hell was going on because they had five days in and no footage shot. I told them I was fired. They shit!

The thing is, I’m also the first one to get a knife in the back. From the Mike Tyson script to telling a good friend his wife was a lesbian…I have had to pull a knife out of my back every time. I ought to wear a shirt that says “Don’t shoot the messenger please!” And by the time the former friend pulls his head out of his ass and asks for help, I am less than interested in playing any games with them again.

This year I am reborn. This year, a year unlike any other year…if you tell me that Oliver Stone is interested in meeting me about the Tyson script, I expect to have that meeting in Oliver Stone’s office and not with his “pool boy” or office assistant or who ever that was, at a coffee shop! This year, if you want to produce your first film but you have chosen a director you are fucking, and he runs you over budget, don’t cry to me about it when the executive producer threatens to jail you for fraud. Or stupidity. And if you are directing a film, Jesus H Christ at least know how to set up a shot. Or at least know the verbiage of the industry! Because I am no longer willing to throw in my knowledge, time and talents because we are friends. This year I have very few trusted friends and I’m going to keep it that way. Because I finally see what friends are. I have been wrong about the meaning of friendship for so many years. I have been a total moron when it comes to helping people. And maybe because I was so certain about my own strengths, I thought by helping out where I could, it would bring some meaning to my life. It has done nothing of the sort. It has made me struggle to unwind the noose around my neck, put there time and time again by a “friend” in need.

I started gripping on film sets just out of my teens. I fetched coffee, ran errands and did what ever it took to learn this industry and I’ve done quite a few thankless jobs. I just never thought they were thankless because they gave me an opportunity to learn something. When I decided to go to film school, I had already worked in the industry for five years and I realized very quickly that those professors had almost no experience in real world filmmaking. I quit school and returned to work.

This is my year. I’ll be birthing my projects and building my teams this year. I will not be a hired gun to fire production crew you hired because they were your cousins or whatever. I will NOT be teaching you how to produce, direct or edit a project. I will NOT open my rolodex and introducing you to anyone, because I like my friends and I want to keep them. I will not be on a set where I have to play who’s peepee is bigger with every single crew member. Because for some reason, with the influx of preditors, (aka the farmer from Kansas who purchased a prosumer camera and business cards saying “writer, producer, dp, editor and whatever” ) the film industry is full of parasitic sycophantic bottom feeders,  more so than the good old days when we worked on studio lots and never expected to move up but at least we were given credit by our peers for our knowledge and ability to get it done together. Is it any wonder the old timers never hire away from their established crews? Does it make sense now why Clint Eastwood and so many old timers (sorry Clint) use the same crew members until they die from old age? Leave your ego at the stage door and just get the thing done.

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