Producing, Oy Vey


A series of phone conversations with two friends.

 

Druid is producing her first independent short (a 3-minute teaser with a $3000 budget) in a small city and Anil is producing a celebrity benefit concert extravaganza (probably will cost $800,000 to produce) with Hollywood folks.

 

Druid is two weeks away from her shoot date.  Being a melancholy type (in her script, all the lead characters die at the end) she started with the depressing news.  She’s worried sick that prep is such a bumpy road. She’s depressed.  She’s up all night with stomach pains.

 

  • The director has not spoken to her all week.
  • The Production Designer quit.
  • She has no AD.
  • The sound “department,” which consists of one guy, might not be able to make the dates because his wife wants him to get a paying job.
  • There is not one Makeup in town who wants to work for nothing that week.
  • The caterer has no car.
  • The extras coordinator has not been able to find anybody to play dozens of Chinese engineers.
  • The office building is not pretty.
  • The Mayor’s Film Office wants to limit the shoot at City Hall to 1 hour; though the line producer said it would take at least 4 hours.
  • The video game parlor changed ownership yesterday (!!!) and the new owner doesn’t know
    from a hole in the ground and doesn’t want to have a film crew in his place of business.
  • She might not have a gaffer and she damn sure doesn’t have enough lights.
  • The lovely mountain location is too far away. Gas=money=time=more logistics=might not be able to do it.

 

Lastly she sobs, “I am too fat.”

 


Anil, by contrast, is an ever-perpetual-bubbling brook of optimism.  He has a year before the concert date.  He starts the conversation with his list of wonderful stuff.

 

  • Whoopi Goldberg has agreed to host
  • Bruce Springsteen will play and donate his fee to the benefit
  • Bon Jovi ditto
  • The Philadelphia Eagles will donate the use of their stadium
  • Bob Dylan’s son will produce PSAs for the event
  • The White House wants to be involved because they love the idea of doing something good for kids
  • One of the PR firms that worked on the Obama campaign will run the advertising

 

Wow, Anil, I’m bowled over by your reach and influence!  Way to go, dude!

 

Later in the week, Druid has bucked up.  She calls to exult that her project now is in great shape.

 

  • She has a fabulous composer who will work for screen credit only.
  • She got a critical location: an office building that will let them not only shoot an indie film, but one with a herd of dwarf goats roaming the office building.
  • She has a caterer who will bring a full steam table on set every day and cook Thai, vegan, Moroccan, seafood and CHOCOLATE gourmet, served on linen napkins and Waterford.  Druid only has to pay for the raw food cost.
  • She has the best extras wrangler in town who has obtained geeky-looking Chinese engineers in large quantities.
  • A police officer volunteered to be the on-set armorer, will bring his own shotgun and will train the actors and the camera crew about safety before the shoot.
  • She found an AD.
  • The most sought-after theater costume designer in town has nothing scheduled for the next 2 weeks and wants to get into film; she will work for the experience.
  • Another great location fell into place, thanks to a theater director slash actor slash juggler slash screenwriter sneaking the production into his kid’s schoolyard.
  • The Mayor’s Film Office relented on City Hall and will let her shoot for 4 hours.
  • The Land Conservancy offered to let the production use their lovely property in the mountains; so she only has to move the crew 20 miles instead of 140.

 

Druid shot her short and—although it took 5 months—got it edited and released on streaming sites.

 

Around the time I saw the final cut of Druid’s film, I spoke to Anil.

  • He doesn’t really have a cause, an organization, a recipient of the benefit from the benefit concert.  He just has a vague idea that he wants to help kids.
  • There was a huge fight about the first donation that came in.  Several people wanted to be paid for their efforts to date.  Some of them quit.  Some of them don’t even speak to Anil any more.
  • Anil was invited, on the strength of this concert effort, to speak at various conferences; and he accepted every invitation to the detriment of further fundraising.  To date, the first donation is the only donation.
  • He has no written plans, no interim targets, no deliverables assigned to individuals, for what needs to be done by when.
  • The only person Anil had on the team who had produced a concert of this magnitude quit, citing Anil’s “incompetence.”
  • None of the talent will promote the concert on their respective web pages because it’s so disorganized so far.
  • No additional talent has signed on.
  • Three different PR firms either were fired or quit.  With 4 months to go, there has been no buzz about this event.

 

Is there a lesson in this tale?  Nope.  It’s just interesting.

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