Future Filmmaking from Dave

Basking in the afterglow of good work released unto an appreciating world, I thought it would be a good idea to announce I was starting a blog. You know, add my voice to the chorus of the hive mind. One little gnat amongst the swarm of locusts. Bzzzzzzzzzzzz.

David Valentine - Producer, VFX Coordinator: Hero, The Phantom Menace Of course, that was last week. Put a loud mouthy film producer drunk on optimism (and Maker’s Mark) on Facebook, and well, this is what you get! A bug-eyed insomniac hunched over his laptop on Sunday night? Evidently so. How do I get myself into these things? Oh, yeah. See above. Big Mouth. Why’d I want to start a blog? Oh yeah, it’s that big mouth thing again. But it might be more than that. I was sitting around in a hotel bar with friend of mine who’s also a producer. The bartender asked if we wanted another round, which of course we did. He was a clever guy, in that bartender-clever sorta way, when he enlightened us. “You know, there’s a rule somewhere that says you’re only supposed to have two of these,” he said as he shook another two Belvedere martinis to be served straight-up. “Did you just start your shift?” I asked. “Yeah” he said. “Well, then I’m gonna lie to you and say this is only my fourth or fifth one.” “Ehhh… I know you guys can handle it. You both producers?” “Yeah. What gave it away? The blazer? The glasses?” I asked, recalling how awkward I felt watching Deniro in What Just Happened? wear the exact same thing on-screen that I was wearing in my seat. “The satellite dish stickin’ outta your head. You guys all sit the same way. Like you may be takin’ a load off but that doesn’t mean you’re turned off.” And he slid the martini in front of me. “Enjoy.” Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. See, we Producers are in fact a breed unto ourselves. The good ones, anyway. Sure, the field is crowded with childhood buds of the director, or prematurely promoted production managers. There are your nervous wreck producers, and your martyr producers and your smart-asses. There are also your know-it-alls and the occasional burn-out. But the good producers know that the weight of the world rests on their shoulders and they are neither put upon nor reluctant. They are the ones who move through crowded rooms giving everyone their undivided attention in ten minute intervals. A good producer is the grounding force that floats from one conversation to the next. While directors care about their vision, their story, their childhood and what the work is going to look like, producers care about all that and HOW the work is gonna get done—not if. Good producers don’t dwell on if. It’s the how that preoccupies us. And I think that’s where the calm comes from. When you know something is gonna get done, then it’s all about what cup you’re going to drink from. Will you and your crew sip rare wine from a gleaming silver chalice or will you all take big gulps from a bucket-o-suck? Either way you’re going to be pulling an Oliver Twist and asking for more. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. The secret that I’ve learned after all these years is that how you start a show is pretty much how you’re gonna end it. To my producer peers I say in earnest—take breaks in between shows. Hug your wife, get your kids haircuts, and spend hours watching Little Nemo over and over and over. I mean, I knew I was burning out when my family and I went to the Grand Canyon and as I gazed upon one of the greatest wonders of the world, I started thinking “those clouds look contrived.” Yup. Time for a break. When you’re starting a show, have a lil’ sunshine shoot out your whazoo. Even if you’re faking it. Make sure you go over-budget on food. Treat your crew well. Bring in a manicurist for the ladies and a barber for the men. And feed them REALLY well. Food is your friend. And to the crews—remember that when you’re talking to your producer, he or she is a chameleon and you’re probably the sixth shade of green they’ve had to take on that day. Forgive the fact that they don’t know every line from Chuck Jones’s cartoons (although, pat, pat, I do.) And, give them props when you hear Jay-Z blasting from the production office. Give ‘em a point that it’s not Kane. And if you haven’t heard from the producer or production team in a while pick up the phone. Remember, you’re a planet rotating around the sun. Not the reverse. (pause) Wow. Well evidently this blog thing is gonna work out just fine. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
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