I spent a few days looking for sticky name tags at various stores and couldn’t find them anywhere, so I just made my own! These are all the crew members on Wednesday’s shoot. I’m happy to say that Stein de Bont will be lead cameraman, documenting the event and getting lots of nice footage of the set up and people drawing. Check out Stein’s work here.
Marlin Meulman, student at NHTV, is back and this time will be helping production as well as running a second camera. Jeroen Koffeman, Samantha Williams, Isabelle Kniestedt and Lisan Peters are all fellow MA of Animation classmates who will be production assistants during the day. Thank you everyone!
I spent a few hours yesterday writing up the call sheet for Wednesday’s shoot. A call sheet is a document usually produced by the Assistant Director and handed out to the cast and crew, telling them when and where they have to appear the next day. It normally includes everything they would need to know like location information, catering, etc. My call sheet is a little unorthodox since it’s a small crew and just a one day shoot. So it’s basically an elaborate timeline of what is going to happen on Wednesday, who will do it, and where it will happen. Hopefully this will keep us on track!
I also took a short trip to the Antoon de Jong art store in Tilburg to pick up the last giant black markers (turns out each art store only seems to carry a couple at a time since they’re not in high demand) and white opaque laminating paper for erasing and going over the drawing.
In more meditative news, I’ve recently discovered the Hollywood Reporter Roundtable videos, and I’ve been watching them a lot, because I love hearing people talk about their creative process and because as I embark on this shoot I’ve been thinking a lot about the roles of the director and producer on films. I watched the Directors Roundtable, with Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), David O. Russell (American Hustle), Ben Stiller (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Lee Daniels (The Butler).
A few tidbits I found insightful was David O Russell talking about how he made a few films, then had a long stretch where he didn’t make films at all, and he had to learn how to get back, but also how to make better films: “How can I not overthink things? How can I make it come from my gut?” He is of the opinion that his recent films, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle were successful at this.
In a similar manner Alfonso Cuaron was talking about his career trajectory, where he made a few films that were OK, then a few that he regrets now, and he had to find his way back to films he was passionate about: “Then I said let’s make the movie we would have made before going to film school” and this was Y Tu Mama Tambien.
And when talking about whether directors have to be arrogant, because they’re bossing lots of people around, Lee Daniels said: “When you’re firm and you know what you want you could be considered to be arrogant.” I think this is something I and lots of women struggle with. In fact, this very issue of having to stand up for yourself came up in the Drama Actresses Roundtable with Claire Danes, Emmy Rossum, January Jones, Julianna Margulies, Kyra Sedgwick and Mireille Enos. I can’t help feeling that seeming to be arrogant is something that bothers men less than women.
But in particular it was this Producers Roundtable that drew me in: David Heyman (Gravity), Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor), Charles Roven (American Hustle), Pam Williams (The Butler), Michael De Luca (Captain Phillips) and Dede Gardner (12 Years a Slave).
A few insights I gleaned was Pam Williams explaining the difference between the relationship of a Producer and Director on television versus film projects: “On TV you’re driving the train and you hire a director every week. On film you’re basically hiring your boss and you help them achieve their vision.”
Charles Roven explains how the role of a Producer is different on every project because: “You have to mold your role as producer around the director you’re working with because each director has different strengths and weaknesses.”
I also found it interesting when they were discussing the misconceptions of the job of producer. One of them said that people sometimes think that a producer just puts up the money, which is of course not at all what they do, though they may be involved with finding funding for the film. But then Pam Williams admitted that in order to find funders for The Butler, they brought on 40-50 investors and gave them each a Producer credit. So I guess it does happen sometimes that someone is listed as ‘Producer’ but all they did was invest.
But it was really insightful hearing these six people talk about their roles: they are involved with everything from casting, to negotiating actor’s fees, to finding funding, arranging marketing, etc. It almost seems like they’re the equivalent of a manager in an office – the Director is leading the vision, but they’re managing the production and making sure it all comes together. I really admire producers because they have to have an intimate knowledge of the industry – how a screenplay gets developed, how the studios fit in, how to get the movie made, and then how to make sure it gets seen.