Aria Pictures PCS Journey part 5 | Aria Pictures Weblog
Date: May 13, 2014
Author: Gerald Martin Davenport
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Aria Pictures PCS Journey part 5 - THE PRODUCER
“Put Your Magic in My Film!”
Another writer that had a long-term with PCS is Dänna Wilberg, writer of The Push (2009), Little Thieves (2010), and Borrowed Time (2011), all of which I enjoyed the stories. After winning the Producer’s Choice award for the WATERING hole, Dänna approached me to re-edit Borrowed time for her so she could submit it to festivals; however, she was unable to acquire the media due to complications with the camera operator or someone.
She then asked me, “Would you put your magic in my next movie if I get selected?” Being October of 2011, and we had until May of 2012 for things to change, I said yes, thinking she would not be selected 4, but found out it was five years in a row.
As the months went by and Petite Chardonnay was coming to a close, Dänna chimed in reminding me that I was her guy for her next movie which was titled The Producer. Of course, I read it and fell in love with it, so I was in if it were to happen, but was disgruntled with the whole PCS thing and its organizers, and questioned my getting involved with another PCS movie, as well as, another situation where I am not in total control but are we ever?
Dänna is a writer and understands a little about production, but not much and I had to teach her the ways of filmmaking. My time on The Producer was a different experience than the 2011 movies, but every once in a while she would say, do, or ask something that was contradictory to what she originally came to me about, so I finally had to remind her. “You came to me asking me to put My Magic in Your Film. I cannot do my magic if you micro-manage. Trust me. It will be awesome and you will get what you want, it is not going to happen the way you think it should.” Something I should have done at the beginning because after that, it was easy going.
I got to work with Rob Tillitz again, our 5th film together, and a few new crew members. Jim Heck only came for a day and I had a few other camera operators and was not pleased with a few, as many of the takes were unusable: little to no light to see the actor, horribly framed, and terribly executed. I blame only myself for the atrocities but will state that the camera guy and the effects girl came highly recommended to Dänna who relayed the information to me. After I met them and saw what they did, I was appalled at Dänna for ever believing such hogwash.
When I showed the first cut and credits one of the camera operators asked: “why not Cinematographer or DP credit?” I replied, a Cinematographer or DP is on set during the entire production, you were not. We had five camera operators and other than me being at each day of production, no one got it. Besides some of it is crap and do you really want to take credit for that? Plus the stuff the other guys did, they do not want you taking credit for that. So we all get camera operator credit.”
Then the effects girl wanted to know why I did not use any of her stuff, and I said “it is not usable until you fix it. You have had 7 weeks to work on it and still not fixed.” She did not fix it, so I did, and Dänna wanted me to give her some sort of effect credit and I said I am not giving anyone credit they did not do or deserve.” Then her mother, the effects girl’s mother, wanted script supervisor credit because she did it for one day, but her job was helping her daughter and PA.
If you gave someone credit for every little thing they did, there would be no room for the movie, besides, doing it once is no grounds for giving credit that the person knows the job. (Oh, I fixed my truck by adding gasoline, am I a mechanic? NO!)
The production of The Producer did not go without a few hiccups, but all in all, it was a pleasant experience, and as good as I think it is, I know it could have, and should have, been much better. I would work with Dänna Wilberg again on one of her wonderful stories.
2012: Thanks for the memories
I may have an ego, a little arrogance in my blood, and a slight jerkiness to my walk, but when it comes to filmmaking and editing, a craft that I have spent a very long time working on since 1981, an average of 12 hours each day (yes, I am a working editor), and knowing how to complete productions and deliver them I take that VERY SERIOUSLY.
Do not come into the business thinking you can do it just because you have a camera, lights, wrote a screenplay, or have video editing software: it does not make you a filmmaker, director, editor, cinematographer, or producer.
I had the pleasure of working with many actors in Sacramento, but I cannot say that about the crew. Not many get it or understand it, let alone are able to do it, but there are a few that listened and did awesomely, and I thank them; they know who they are, as they have been in several of my films.
As far as Access Sacramento and their PCS contest, I was trying to get with the organizers on how they can make their event better, more fun, and bottom line, more lucrative.
Since you have returning writers that prove they can deliver, why not judge them against each other and select 5 in addition to the 10 already making it 15 movies to watch, but making them 7.5 minutes long?
Also, I wanted to know why and how they screw up everyone's movie when they put it onto a DVD. Everyone had a problem: a video glitch or audio problem; even mine had stuff in it that was not in it when I submitted it. I know they are using old codec technology and using it wrong. PLUS, why did they make us record it in HD when it is presented in Standard Def at the theatre?
I was a judge for 2012: several of the films I gave poor marks made the selection and a few that were really wonderful stories did not; what the heck were they thinking if they were thinking at all?
Well, that was it for me, I had enough, time to move on, but I OWE A GREAT DEAL TO Access Sacramento and Ron Cooper for choosing my stories, to begin with, and giving me a venue, a soapbox, an outlet for me, and many others, creativity. I would not be where I am today if it was not for the PCS event.
People I am thankful for meeting through PCS and all connected to each other out of PCS productions, and in no particular order:
Rob Tillitz, Bill Bettencourt, Karly Avva, Scott Slotterbeck, Krystina Mae, Jason Michael Shannon, Donna Faith, Mark Hoffman, Frank Cosgriff, Gary Udel, Danny Gray, Doug Hammer, Steve Dakota, Meghan Malia Bird, Yinique Myo-Flores, Rob Hayes, Laura Marie Tapia, Rafael Siegle, Daniel Roberts, J.P. Dunne, Christa Bella, Shawn P. Flanagan, Glenn Koeppel, Judith Plank, Dänna Wilberg, Vincent Dee Miles, Tim Church, Jay Stone, Michelle Barbaria, Ron Cooper, Ryan McKinney, Jeffery C. Vanacore, Dylan Nelson, Gary L. Conover, Gretta Sosine, Charlie Merlo, Cynthia Gatlin, Lori Grbac, Karissa Lee Carleton, Kayla Rose, Kayla Jagger, Brian Jagger, Lisa West, Aaron Lord, Toni Corbett.
Aria Pictures PCS Journey – Place Called Sacramento
The detailed story of the places, people, events, and films.
PCS Post History
Each year after 2018, I get requests for me to help someone with their film. As much as I love filmmaking, I have learned to say no, not very well mind you, but I have to trust my instincts when I feel it is not right.
2014 and 2015, I was deeply involved with films from people I admire who had worked with me on my films. I owed them the respect and time to help them with theirs.
2014 film debacle
The film 2014 won entrance into the new Foothills Film in Grass Valley and Access Sacramento. Oh my gosh, this is awesome to be seen in two events.
But as pre-production began after months of rewrites to the screenplay, things fell apart. As we were searching for locations, the writer and the lead actor wanted to drive up from Sacramento to Grass Valley to pick me up so we can drive around Sacramento scouting locations. When we got back to my car in Grass Valley, he did not look at me when I got out and said goodbye, and drove off without letting me close his car door.
I got this email from him and still have no idea where any of these feelings of his came from.
Subject: gerald, I still do not …
From: name withheld
Date: 5/21/14 11:08 PM
… like the exclamation point, and I feel it is unnecessary at the end of the tag line, and I believe by using it you are not on the same sheet of music with the sensitivity of my story and of the subject of addiction, specifically alcoholism – period
At the end of the tag line, I do not wish to indicate strong feelings. This is a line of text where nuance is called for, not glaring conspicuousness.
Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes. —F. Scott Fitzgerald
Why do you refer to our screenplay as my screenplay?
why do you back-seat drive?
why do you micro-manage?
I will not do this anymore. I have deleted my connection to the movie on Facebook and google +, deleted the website. and moved on.
have fun making your movie.
After all the work we both put into it. We were chatting, excited, he cried about a few of the locations, but all was good.
I answered his questions: first off, it is your screenplay. I maybe helped out 20-25%, which does not give me permission to call it MINE. And you never told me in person that you wanted to share the credit.
Why do I backseat drive? I am not sure I understand that question. The two times I mentioned anything about helping you drive is
1) when a car came out of nowhere between parked cars on the right side I was startled and said “whoa there is a car beside us.”
2) when we were coming home to drop me off at the parking lot I was given help with a shortcut to get in without dealing with all the traffic.
You could and should have THANKED ME for my help. But backseat driving?
Micro-manage? Not sure what I am micro-managing that you are not happy with, but when you made me the director, and you have been on 3 movies I directed, this is what it takes to get a movie made. Since I am putting the crew together and telling them where they need to be when they need to be there, and how long it is going to take. Plus you wanted the use of my brother-in-law’s 57 Chevy Belair and kept adding more dangerous situations you wanted it to be in. Yeah, I do not call that micro-managing, I call that Managing.
If this person had issues in pre-production, I could not imagine the problems during production. He told me once, “when you direct me, do not tell me how to act.” I think it was best for me to leave but for him to abandon his story that was accepted in two events. He had a great story and was going to play on two large screens, unheard of for the first time. It had so much potential to go viral — a shame.
2016 Coming Back by Scott Slotterbeck
Scott Slotterbeck is an awesome person and a busy audio guy for many short films. He probably knows everyone in the Sacramento Film Community. He came to me wanting to have me direct his story Coming Back and do all that I do to get it produced.
We were in pre-production getting locations and actors, and although we disagreed on a few things, we worked together to the benefit of the movie. Until a new production person came along. Jody F. was her name and she came in with guns a-blazing, blinders on, and ears and mind closed to anything I said.
After a few weeks of negativity, disagreements, and making production become more complicated with the crew, props, and location requirements, I told Scott I am stepping down because I will not put my crew and myself through this mess.
It is your film, and I respect you, but I do not need to be treated like this. I came to find out in the end that Jody told Scott that she did not even want him running audio on HIS film, but he could do craft services. He said it was a total nightmare and learned much from that picture.
I felt bad that I abandoned him, and we should have had a better relationship and communication with and Writer Director and let know one come between us. But he was mesmerized or something.
Anyway, there were many others that asked me to help in some capacity or another. I feel that I have the obligation to help others in need; however, when they want me to drive 90 minutes one way to be a script supervisor, production assistant, or some other crew position and not heed my filmmaking experience, knowledge, and skills, I do not have the time or want to be associated with the production. Thus ends my association and connection with Access Sacramento and the Place Called Sacramento screenplay contest.
Remember: Lights on for safety. even during the day