Dream Scream Team

 

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Me, my husband, Joseph Stachura, and one of the film’s wonderful actors, Marco Neves, at a film festival for Joseph’s film “Redemption” held in the iconic film location for so many great westerns. Ironically, the images that define ‘the American west’ in movies like “Fistfull of Dollars” are mostly from this location in Spain. I know, right?

Putting together a film crew, cast, and post-production team is something most people will never do, which is a good thing, because it takes more work, finesse and time than most humans have the patience for or the endurance to survive. Lots of people think they could make a movie, but actually doing it, from setting up contracts with lawyers, creating LLCs, dealing with countless union contracts, finding exceptional people for countless jobs, and managing the entire thing, (not to mention raising the money, and finding distribution) is very similar to setting up a multi-national corporation while walking a tightrope and appeasing over a hundred, overly-sensitive, creative ‘types,’ in a high wind. 

Fun right?

One of the things I like the most about working on a film is the always unique combination of personalities and talents. And each and every one of them from the ‘star’ to the production assistant who works for free for the experience and learning, is equally important. 

Think I’m wrong? Try to make a movie by yourself. That’s what I’ve always said to actors who behave as if they are more important than anyone else on set. 

What helps us in this ‘peopling up’ process is what I refer to as our ‘calling card.’ this is primarily my husband’s amazing body of work. As the writer/director, each person from the Director of Photography to the wardrobe designer, from the accountant to the set painter looks to him and his ability to make them look good. 

Last year, Joseph released the film “Redemption.” A film made with very little money, the assistance of many friends and cohorts, lots of passion, and very little sleep. It’s wonderful. Based on the heart and quality of that film, we were invited to many film festivals, at several of which the film won top honors. 

But what impresses people the most is Joseph’s, (and my, on a much smaller scale) theatre background. Producing over 300 shows in nearly 20 years, building a working company of actors, directors, set-designers, producers, etc tells people who know what to look for that this is a man with an awesome talent, the perseverance of a saint, the charisma to lead, and the sheer will-power to ‘get it done.’

And, on a personal note, (’cause it’s my blog) he’s the most romantic man I’ve ever known. He makes me feel like a treasure every single day, would kill to protect or care for our girls, and works his butt off to provide not only a home, but memories and life experiences for us. And it is an honor to collaborate with his very rare combination of business sense, technical skill and artistic ability.

Damn, I love my man. 

But what is most rewarding, at this point of pre-production, is the fact that based on the script, and Joseph’s vision of the film, people are clambering to get on board. They can see that this project will be something special. Not something thrown together like a prefab McMeal you know people will eat no matter how tasteless, but a viable, uber-creative project that they are hungry to be a part of. 

Now, nobody is going to get paid top dollar to work on this potential heap of art, yet we’ve had people from top films knocking on the door because they’ve heard about it, and seen what we’ve both done in the past, well mostly him. It’s the director that counts in the industry, I have no illusions about that. I believe, even in this cynical, reality show world of canned ‘entertainment’ that artists are bleeding for a project they can be enthusiastic about, contribute to, and ultimately be proud of. 

And these people know that Joseph, and I, will be proud of them, will expect their best, will value and trust their contributions. A film is a group project with a dictator. Without an overall decision maker with a master view, you would end up with mush, but with someone who can pull the best from everyone involved, you end up with the best of everyone’s best. 

I’m so excited, and tired already. I don’t think Joseph has had a full night’s sleep since we started in earnest, and he won’t until the movie is finished post-production and delivered to the distributor. That will be months from now. 

So, if you’re one of those people who only notices the actors in a production, and have fallen into the habit of crediting them with it’s success or blaming them for it’s flatness, look again. See the way the colors of the room don’t exactly match, but beautifully compliment the wardrobe? That’s the art director’s choice and contribution. Does that blue dress and the cold ‘starlight’ add to the sense of loneliness in a sad scene? Give the credit to the costume designer and the Gaffer, (lighting director). The way the camera begins to move in on the actors face when they realize that they are in love, so that we are drawn into their joyful amazement, that’s an emotion created by the director of photography. When one actor says a funny line and before it’s done, we cut to an eyebrow lift from the supporting actor, which tops it off, the editor knows what he or she is doing. And it is the director, on a small film especially, who chooses and empowers them all. 

And on and on. I love this whole process and I love being a part of it. 

Meanwhile, on top of setting up meetings and overseeing design choices, I’m devouring books on schizophrenia and it’s processes. I’ll talk about that journey next time. It’s not possible to create a character with normal, linear history or straight sensory work when that woman is insane. 

Or is she? 

Mwuh, ha ha ha hah! (that’s my evil laugh)

Gotta go help set up a green screen for behind the scenes interviews tomorrow. 

Such a glamorous life I lead. 

Shari, January 11, 2013. 

 

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