Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, July 6, 2014


                     You know what this logo means: another links post…

Having spent the past few weeks in an Internet black hole thanks to a feeble wireless connection offering little better than dial-up speeds (when it worked at all), I’ve been catching up on what I’d missed via podcasts.  Chief among those is KCRW’s weekly show The Business, where Michelle MacLaren (with Breaking Bad on her resume) and Alex Graves (West Wing) recently discussed the logistical complexities and multi-tasking challenges both experienced while directing episodes of Game of Thrones.  They also talk about “the director’s curse” and the benefits for the entire production company of working in Ireland, where labor laws limit filming to ten hours per day.
It’s would be great for all of us if Hollywood -- where the industry long ago adopted the burn-’em-out/throw-’em-out philosophy of the fast food business -- would listen to and heed the first-hand wisdom these two directors bring to this subject.  But that won’t happen.  Instead, the industry will keep chewing us up and spitting us out until somebody finally manages to beat some sense into their collective corporate heads. or until every last feature film and television show is being made on sound stages and computers in foreign countries -- because the minute those corporate suits decide they can save a dime by shipping all production offshore, they'll do it.

Next up, Steven Knight -- filmmaker, screenwriter, and novelist -- talks about his recent movie Locke, as well as advertising, writing, and how he helped create the hit TV game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"  That's a very unusual and eclectic resume, even for Hollywood.  His method of shooting Locke was similarly unconventional, to say the least, and although I have yet to see the film, reviews were respectful. Knight wrote the script for Dirty Pretty Things -- a terrific movie directed by Steven Frears -- and as the interview demonstrates, he knows what he's talking about.

In a recent Martini Shot commentary, Rob Long delineated the two types of people in Hollywood and beyond: “horrible people” who seem to enjoy and seek out conflict, and the rest of us who don’t... and why this business might need the former more than the latter care to admit.  
Then Rob tells a story about the fickle nature of employment in Hollywood, the value of maintaining good communication with your co-workers, and the importance of being considerate to those you meet on the way up -- including your assistant -- because you just might meet some of those people again on the way back down

Last, but definitely not least, The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Crew Call interview with veteran dolly grip Darryl Humber.  Darryl has seen and done it all over the years, from low-rent indies to mega-budget tentpole features.  He's also done serious hard-time in the salt mines of episodic television -- and until you’ve been there, you have no idea just how relentlessly brutal that world can be.  The interview  has been on-line for several weeks now, but if you missed out, it’s well worth your time.   
As are all the above podcasts.  I have no way of knowing whether any of you actually follow these links, or just roll your eyes upon seeing another "links" post, then click on over to Utube to watch cat videos.  I’ve listened to each of these podcasts, and they’re good.  Whatever your place in the film/television industry, you can learn something from them.  Otherwise I wouldn't waste your time -- and mine -- in posting those links.

So do yourself a favor and check ‘em out. 

* Rent the DVD and watch the film, then go to the “Special Features” interview with Steven Frears.  The man has some very interesting and useful things to say about the art of directing.  Any of you noobs out there hoping to become directors someday can learn a lot from him.

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