Lana Wood, Knox, Taylor and Taking Pride
The quiet rain outside falls against the colored leaves of fall. My review of budget for the morning puts a cautious smile on my face. The call to set tells me that everyone is working steadily along to capture our last day of week 1 on the thriller “Bestseller”. This is my final action before my pick up to set. Terence Knox came in and was on-screen yesterday and it was good to see an old friend. He has mellowed some in his age and I see moments of tender and sweet – perfect for his compassionate doctor. The gruff soldier and ex-boxer that he was has given way some and I like how he wears it. The previous day was the 1st time I’ve ever had fellow Lansing, MI gone Hollywood actor Taylor Nichols on a CDI project. He was powerful in his work and we had equally strong talent in Ralph Lister, a MI adopted Brit playing opposite him. Today Lana Wood, true Hollywood royalty is once again gracing one of our films. I love her performances and I will be seeing her within the hour. The crew is bonding and I purposely put the hardest part of the schedule up front. Once we are past that it will be settling in for two weeks at a much more operational set with much less breakdown and no true company moves. The emergency vehicles and tighter sets will be shot out and only the large beautiful lakeside sets remain.
I also got to bookend my character this week. My first and last scenes are done and now I truly know my beginnings and end of my arc. So now the story will unfold for me within these fate marks. I’m ready to play and I can freely do so because of the confidence I have in our crew. The hard work was done in pre-production and so it will now pay off in the quality of the work we produce. That brings me to my little soapbox moment of the week. For 17 years I’ve proudly fought the “backwater” stigma that follows Michigan. A reputation of being 2nd rate artists because we aren’t from Hollywood or NYC. It is unfortunate that for every set experience I give to outsiders that leaves them astonished at the professionalism there is a half-dozen clusterF#@% sets that leave people stating “Worst film experience ever” uttered about BRING BACK THE SUMMERTIME a film I almost produced but they refused to listen to reason and I decided to not participate. Sad that it was someone’s 1st Michigan experience and that is the story they will tell. Now I see and hear of other great productions in state. 10 West studios, I don’t know them but I’ve seen their product and it is very good. Rich Brauer, had lunch with him and know his product. These people I see the effort to stand proud as storytellers. On the other hand I see gross neglect and piss poor planning just destroying the film community. Now I work all over and so the state of our local film community really doesn’t affect me completely but I do care. When I see people not only show complete disregard for professional process but brag about it as if it was hip or cool – I feel pity. I feel bad for those so in need of a paycheck or so desperate that they climb on board a doomsday ship. “Welcome to starship screw up – next destination – the sun.” Now I know some of these people or know of them. I see boasts of pushing crews too hard, unreasonable expectations, managing with anger and admission at a full house premiere that they barely had a script and that they were disorganized in their schedule most of the time. This was presented as some kind of joke to be made at the Oscars. I cringed because the product reflected all those things. And to many not in the knowing that is what reflected our State of Michigan and the artists within. To these people – do better. Take some pride in your work and process. Don’t treat our industry like a joke. Because what you don’t realize is that you ARE the joke. You are also giving our State and our artists a bad name. Now in our industry it has a way of weeding out the ASS CLOWNS as I like to call them but not before damage is done. And for some of you out there be careful what circus you join. You are artists to be respected. You are all a vital part of every storytelling endeavor be it in making coffee, pulling focus, last looks, lint brushing to musical scoring. Take pride in your work. Leaders take pride in your product. Art is subjective and not everyone will love it despite the outcome but always give your best efforts.
Have a great weekend. Off to set.