About the Filmmakers
The filmmaker team as described by writer and director, Louis Mansfield in his blog, Unrealized Suggestion
A couple of years ago I was at a party that a film festival was hosting where I met some really cool people. I was introduced to one person in particular and we had a pleasant conversation. A fellow filmmaker this person had several questions about an upcoming project to which I was more than happy to oblige. Simple things like if I knew of certain crew members or what equipment I’ve used on set were entertained along with another question that allowed me to appreciate the position I’m currently in. I apologize for not being able to recite the conversation word for word but it was along the lines of “How are you able to keep everything together in your productions?” This sort of caught me on my back heels because my productions have been fairly well organized or “kept together” yet I’m not the person who should be responsible for taking such credit. I fell silent and thought for a moment because I felt I hadn’t entirely earned the right to be the subject of such inquiry nor had enough experience to give such advice. Fortunately, I quickly realized that the question wasn’t so severe and that my fellow filmmaker simply wanted a few tips to keep his production in order. I smiled and took another moment as I understood what my answer would be. Realizing that I’ve probably taken too many “moments” and that I was starting to look a bit foolish, I answered.
“You need a producer, a good one.” The words readily escaped my thoughts with more than enough in queue. “I write and direct my films and while I am technically the Executive Producer, the person who gets everything to happen is Chrissy.” He seemed to listen more intently since we both knew my producer, Christine McDermott. I continued “We’re a team, I’m in charge of writing a story for us to film, as well as all of the creative decisions but after that, it’s all of her responsibility. No matter what the effort is she researches and accomplishes everything and anything we need to finish the film and get it out. If you don’t have someone like that then it might help to start looking because I surely couldn’t do all of this on my own.” The two of us spoke of the importance of separating the creative director decisions from the logistical production decisions and how it’s most imperative to have those positions clearly assigned. He spoke of his hardships in trying to juggle all of the responsibility by himself. I was extremely impressed with his ambition as I wouldn’t have the patience to handle all of what needs to go into a production, even a small production, on my own. Even with a producer the stress of being a director weighs heavily on my shoulders and without Chrissy’s help I surely would collapse from it. Logistical aspects like licensing, insurance, scheduling, etc. are all responsibilities I take for granted because all of it is taken care of without my involvement being nearly as important as Chrissy’s. Even with every new accomplishment come several new responsibilities like Errors and Omission Insurance or booking a flight to a film festival but in our partnership, it is all under control.
In the beginning on our first production she produced, (short film, Non Serviam,) Chrissy was having a difficult time getting the necessary insurance to go into production. She made call after call and all of the signs indicated that we wouldn’t have the insurance in time for our scheduled shoot. Defeated, she turned to me and spoke of the situation. I proceeded to tell her a story that we always take into account with our filmmaking process. As a paralegal one of my many responsibilities is to get medical records for our clients. One particular case had a court date that was rapidly approaching and I was unable to procure the proper medical records needed to prosecute our case. Now, I say with great confidence that the medical record situation wasn’t completely my fault; the medical facility simply stated that we needed to wait for the records to get to our office. I conveyed this to my boss who looked at me and said candidly “Doesn’t matter that you can’t get them, we need them for court, and not having them isn’t an option.” My boss is a very cool person and I do try to impress him when I have the opportunity. I called the medical facility and offered several more unorthodox ways of us getting the records. Things like sending someone to pick them up, paying more for them to be expedited, or writing a check immediately to be mailed that day if they fax instead of mailing the records to us. I spoke to them in a firm but thankful demeanor and after an hour or two we had the records. I tell this story because it didn’t matter that Chrissy wasn’t able to get the insurance, she had too. Needless to say she did by working tirelessly. We received the insurance the night before our first production day and was only able to so by over drafting her bank account, all of this in the name of cinema.
Whenever Chrissy gets into a difficult situation I remind her that failure is not an option and that “It doesn’t matter, we have to have the records.” This is merely one of many stories that I could tell about the hardships and difficulties of being a producer, let alone my producer. I rely on, trust, and respect what she does to make everything I’ve created have the opportunity to come alive. Without having someone to manage all that is involved in behind the scenes of filmmaking I would simply be a juggler with no balls. Through any frustrating time I know that I’m fortunate to have a partner in this extremely intimidating and daunting process. Other filmmakers that we’ve worked with have come and gone and I’m sure there will be more that do but I am confident that I’m a part of a team that through everything will accomplish our common goal, procuring a seven figure film budget. Chrissy and I do have a plan that we’re executing along with other aces up our sleeve. We have mentors who I will speak more thoroughly about in the future and we are actively educating ourselves in the business of film financing. We’re no stranger to work despite how impressively difficult it is to climb to the next level of filmmaking. I suppose if it were easy everyone would do it but on the other hand it is so difficult that not just anyone can. We’ll have to see where we fit in all of this but I’m hopeful that with our perseverance we will be able to make not only these two films but many. I often think of what Herzog said about Kinski when thinking about my relationship with my producer, “… one of the few people I ever learned anything from.”