Friday, July 08, 2011

Masters of Production...opening

Here's one I've been meaning to post for a while...the opening segments of my PBS doc on Production Design: MASTERS OF PRODUCTION. I think this is the thing I'm most proud of from my years working on arts/cinema docs: wrote, directed and edited this one myself in association with KCET (in the person of the wonderful Joyce Campbell) and with the unflagging support and excellent counsel of Citzie DeMille Presley.

My idea was to use the movies that everyone really had affection for: CHINATOWN, CITIZEN KANE, GONE WITH THE WIND, BLADE RUNNER, THE GODFATHER and so on...and to explore that Hollywood art that's hidden in plain sight.

The interviews were the most enjoyable ever: bar none. Production Designers are, as Jack DeGovia says, "The ultimate dilettantes...." They have to master everything, and they have to make it all fit. They tell the story in amazing and surprising ways.

The film is dedicated to Dick I used to tell people on the project, "It's Dick Sylbert's Hollywood...we just work there." We spent a whole day with him, shooting all over L.A., and I learned a great lesson from that. The next day he wanted to know if we could get together and just record some audio: he had more stories to tell. I was up to my neck in production, and I begged off. Maybe later?

He was dying of pancreatic cancer, and that shoot was the last chance I had to talk with him. What had I missed by not taking him up on it? By not stopping and taking the time? I'll never know.