The perspective from inside… the Director’s couch

After my last post, “The Company”, I had a conversation with Kevin about his experience making the movie.

How did you work out the problem with the fire marshall? You told me the building was on a fire watch, and would have to buy a $700 permit and pay some city worker$65/hour during the filming.

Kevin:   We had to shut down the production indefinitely. Even if I could have gotten the film permit over the phone, the fire marshall would not let us continue shooting without a full-time paid fire official on the set. I couldn’t afford that. What was most frustrating about the whole situation was that the manager of the warehouse had been calling the city for an entire year trying to get them to come in and do what they were required to do – inspect the sprinkler system. So it’s clear the city knew about the problem for an entire year. In lieu of sending in an inspector they just put the building on a fire watch until they could get around to it. In the end, the manager hired someone to come in and fix the problem, which turned out to be replacing one or two sprinkler heads. The fire marshall, who felt bad about what happened, then expedited an official inspection and the building passed. I got the film permit and 3 weeks later we started over. I say started over because I couldn’t use any footage from the day we had to abort. It wouldn’t match. Final cost of shutdown/delay: approximately $2,100 which included the permit and the cancellation fees for the cast and crew.

I know of 3 events that could’ve stopped you from continuing to the finish line:  a) an unscrupulous contractor b) the actor pulled out at the ’11th hours’ c) the fire watch… I know there were other events after these… can you list your most significant challenges (in addition to a negative balance on your bank account 🙂

Kevin:  Regarding a, b, and c, anyone who’s ever produced or directed a film will tell you that what I went though is nothing unusual. Every production has it’s horror stories. And mistakes are made. My hope is to make bigger and better mistakes next time, but to never make the same ones twice. 

As far my most significant challenge, it was wearing too many hats. As director my sole focus should have been on directing. But that is often not the reality for low budget independent film. It certainly wasn’t on this movie. And I think the final product suffered for it. Among the jobs I performed and could have taken credit for are: executive producer, producer, location scout, props, set decoration, casting director, script supervisor, production manager, production assistant, driver, post production supervisor, etc. This was a failure on my part in that I made the same mistake twice. The Company is my third film but I made this mistake on my second one, and I failed to learn from it. At the same time I realize that no one is going to care about The Company as much as I do, period. It’s my dream and I have the most at stake. When there was a job that needed to be done, and no one around to do it, I simply had no other choice…

I like that… “I simply had no other choice…”  Seems like there are situations when this is the “I must”.  In my acting studio at the ‘Imagined Life’, there is a big banner over one of the doors that reads “I must…”  It is a reminder of the philosophy that we are not acting out for appearance sake.  We are doing for the simple motive that I must save my child, I must tell him “I love you”, I must dream big!  You’ve got nothing to lose except missing out on the best ride of your life.

One thought on “The perspective from inside… the Director’s couch

  1. I love this post — I’m putting together a film and Kevin’s words are a good reminder not to wear too many hats!

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