Got a question for me? Use the contact form to fire away!
Q: You talk about bringing your dreams to life; what dreams have you brought to life?
A: Gosh, so many. My first dream was to work for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and I managed to do within my first year in the industry after university! Never expected to do so because I lived in Canada at time, but all is possible. I partly made it happen with which companies I applied to, and the rest one could say was just luck, but I’d rather say I was open to the opportunity that led to bringing that dream to life.
Q: What books are you writing for children and young adults?
A: Though my MFA in Creative Writing I’ve focussed on writing for children and young adults. I have several stories for middle grade and young adult in the works, as to which one will be coming out next? Probably my middle grade fantasy adventure that involves both movie magic and the real stuff.
Q: What kinds of the jobs have you done in film or TV?
A: A better question is to ask me what jobs I haven’t done! Besides Coordinator and Manager (obviously – my books are all about those jobs), I’ve done nearly all the jobs on set over the course of my film career from P.A. to Camera Assistant to TV Switcher to Continuity to Line Producer to Executive in Charge of Production. I even did Craft Service (luckily I only needed to do so for one day). What I haven’t done is Grip; however, being a sailor, I’ve earned their respect by tying knots around them.
Q: What is a “Best Boy” (I’ve seen it in movie credits)?
A: Aren’t film terms awesome? I love them. Even made a wordsearch of my favourite terms. Here’s a link to it:
But you asked about Best Boy… it’s the job title for the Second-in-charge Electrician. Why? Uh, not sure.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to work in the film industry?
A: Well, my first film was made when I was 7… it involved the family dog and was shot on Super 8. With tasty treats, I made the dog “talk” for the camera. He LOVED to do second takes in order to get the scene just right. Go figure!
Q: Since your book Film Production Management 101 is for Managers and Coordinators, why not publish the material as two books?
A: Yes, at more than 500 pages, it’s a thick book, no doubt. I had considered to do two separate books at one point – the coordination book was written first – however, there are so many inter-dependencies between the work of the Manager and Coordinator that they fit naturally together. That and there are many Coordinators who would make excellent Managers, and many Managers who should know what the Coordinators can do.
Q: What is the most important quality that a Production Coordinator needs and a Production Manager needs?
A: Distil my 500 page book down to a few words? Wow. Okay, I’ll give it a go. Coordinator… organization. Manager… know when to say “yes.”
Q: Are the production stories in your production management book true?
A: Oh yes! All the entertaining production stories are at start of every chapter, so they’re easy to find, and they are true. On my FILM & INK blog I post other production stories that are not necessary related to any one chapter of the book. They’re all true too, because despite plans, the unexpected happens.
Q: Who are some of the famous people you’ve met or worked with?
A: This is such a tough question. It usually means “who have you worked with that I know and admire;” however, I have to guess who you know and admire. Well, I did go to a baby shower once and heard this question. After reaming off names like: George Lucas, William Shatner, Robert Mitchum, Michael York, Norman Jewison, Martin Short, Keanu Reeves, and so on, I received polite nods from the people there until I mentioned that I’d also worked on “The Big Comfy Couch” to which the entire room lit up, wanted to know more and were so pleased to meet me. Of course! It was a room full of people who had small children in the house and who watched the show faithfully. I should have known. As for most famous, I’d say: Santa Claus. We had to convert a room on another floor to be his dressing room just to protect his privacy. The kids are big fans. And he’s a very private man outside of Christmas season.
Q: I’ve heard production days are long. What’s the longest production day you’ve worked?
A: That’s easy. Twenty-three hours. Luckily, I happened to be working on a union shoot at the time and earned the overtime. Happily, those kinds of hours are a rare occurrence, but the days are still long.
Q: Is it easier to make certain types of films? Is making a feature film harder than making a TV series?
A: There are different challenges to different genres and formats; I wouldn’t say any one is harder, just different. The repetitiveness of a long-running TV series, for example, means you have to deal with boredom and complacency on the set no matter how interesting the show is. A production filled with lots of effects shots means you’re capturing a single shot in several, separate elements, but still trying to achieve great performances from the cast in the typically sterile environment of a greenscreen studio. As for what they all share? Nearly every production has to handle cash flow issues, and that’s a tough one all by itself. I discuss a lot of these kinds of challenges in my book Film Production Management 101, and how to address them with advanced planning.
Q: What is the strangest item you had to research or find for a production?
A: You’d probably get a different answer from me every time I’m asked. Today? On one production I had to find coordinates on Earth that were legally clear to use. What that means is that in the dialogue someone reports the exact latitude and longitude of the bad guy’s lair, so we had to make sure that whoever owned that point on Earth was OK with our using their coordinates. What a detail! We ended up using my mom and dad’s house. They thought it was pretty cool.
Q: What is your most memorable movie moment?
A: That would have to be my first day working with the IMAX Space Team. We went out to a fast food restaurant and debated a logistical dilemma we had: First put the camera onto the space shuttle. The shuttle goes into space and docks onto MIR space station. Pass the camera into MIR to shoot the footage. The shuttle goes away, about its own business. The dilemma? How do you get the camera and film back to Earth?
Q: You have a whole chapter in Film Production Management 101 about arranging a wrap party; what was the best wrap party you arranged?
A: Oh, there was this one party that was written up in the newspapers the day after the event. They reported who was there like it was the party of the year and not to be missed. That wrap party was probably my favourite. Christmas lights were suspended like stars over the dance floor. Lots of flowers. Two great bands alternating throughout the night. A cake with the production title logo on it. A few of the crew brought red clothes pegs to the party to tag the folk they thought should be there versus the gate crashers – of which we certainly had a few that night. I still have the news article… and the clothes peg.
Q: There are pictures of you with short hair and also with long hair… which is it?
A: Uh, both? I’ve grown and donated my hair to wigs for cancer patients and for kids three times now. Currently I’m in a growing-it-again phase.