First-time filmmaker essentials: the trusted ally, or, “Finding your associate producer, the kismet way.”

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in "The Sparkle"

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“This is not bad, it has potential” was all my professor had to say for me to run with it. The “it,” was my script for the sparkle and the professor was teaching a writing class at UCLA extension. I had at one time hoped to go to film school but life had taken me away from that so a couple of classes at UCLA extension would have to suffice. I had a story line, a personal one of a woman finding her own voice, that had merged with a mafia caper of sorts after I moved into an old hotel turned apartment building on the Wilshire corridor of Los Angeles.

It was in this building that I first encountered my AP, no wait, in fact, I had heard about him before I met him. “This guy from Turkey is moving in next door to you,” the manager told me one day, “I hope that’s not going to be a problem.” Well, I do have a problem with this, for although I’m Greek I don’t like to stereotype anyone or anything. Also, when it comes to what really happened between the Turks and the Greeks I like to think I have the inside scoop from my Yiayia (grandmother) Anna, who was been born in Turkey. I know first hand that until the “great catastrophe” the Greeks in Asia Minor had no problems with the Turks, in fact, it was quite the opposite. “Una razza, una faccia,” (one race one face) Yiayia would say. “Our real enemies were hiding behind the Turks who were used just like we were in an international game of chess,” Papou would say.
Now, I’m not going to go into all that and the only reason I bring it up is to caution the reader from falling for that age old divide and conquer tactic used to separate us from one another. Had I bought into that nonsense I would have missed out on meeting one of the kindest, smartest and wisest people I have ever known, (and calm, did I mention calm? So important when one has a tendency to freak out) and who’s partnership and sound advice was indispensable when it came to making and completing, “The Sparkle.”

The first time I met him I was laying out by the pool working on my script. Like I said, I had a good storyline but at the time it was missing an important element, the ending. We got to talking when almost immediately something prompted me to say, “here’s a script for a short film I’m working on that needs an ending, want to see if you can come up with anything?” to which he replied, “give an hour and I’ll have something for you.” A nice answer I thought. So I asked him when his birthday was and went back to my place to consult “the birthday book.”
At the time I use to have this big book that would give you “insight” into a person based on their birthday. I don’t remember what it had to say about him except that he shared a birthday with Albert Einstein, and that was alright by me. When I got back to the pool he had already come up with a pretty interesting ending, and we really had a good time throwing ideas back and forth. It wasn’t the ending we ended up using, in fact, it was more like the beginning, as in Casablanca, to quote Humphrey Bogart “this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I will not be going into detail here about how instrumental he was in bringing the film to fruition, or how grateful I am for this, but he was, and I am. What I wish to impress upon you is how instrumental it is to have someone like this in your corner. When it comes to filmmaking I’m told that even with the biggest and best resources one should always expect the unexpected. So, when you’re making a film with a zero budget, it’s crucial to have someone in your corner who’s resourceful and crafty and who you can rely on 100% Someone who’s opinion and input you value. Someone who doesn’t laugh at your blunders, who stimulates your imagination, who supports and respects you and who has faith in you and the project, the kind of faith that never waivers or looses hope. For me, that person was my AP, and in my limited toolbox, he was and is, one of the most valuable of my filmmaking essentials.