Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Yr2 Week 2 (Tues 15 Oct - Producing and Directing)

In today's screening, which watched the documentary Lost in La Mancha (2002), which detailed the hectic, disastrous production of Terry Gilliam's (Brazil, 12 Monkeys, Tideland) aborted re-imagining of Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote, The Man who Killed Don Quixote. The film was to star Jean Rochefort as the eccentric knight, and a Pre-POTC Johnny Depp (though he was mildly well known for Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow at this time) as his aide, a man transported from the future and whom is mistaken for Sancho Panza, and was to be shot in Spain, with a $32 million budget. However, poor communication between team members, nervous investors, Rochefort's declining health and horrible weather ultimately cut the project very short, and the film was abandoned (Gilliam would go on to do Brothers Grimm, a film also plagued by production problems and fights with the producers).

After, in the lecture, we began to discuss the film and what had gone wrong, specifically, what does a producer do on a film like this:
  • Oversees the whole thing for a four phases (Development, pre-production, production, post-production)
  • Funding (finding investors, using the name onboard both in fron and behind the camera to entice people)
  • Dealing with equipmen/location and getting things booked
  • Pulling together the crew needed
  • Having a contingency/'safety net' in the event something should go wrong at any point during production
  • Marketing and distribution of the finished film
  • Keeping the crew and cast happy (good food, accommodation, hours, pay etc.)
  • Ensure the film actually gets made, on time and on budget
We then quickly discussed the chain of command on a feature like this one:
  • Producer (depending on circumstances, the executive producer will technically be above,  but as far as the main production goes, the producer is 'top cat'. He should ensure the director feels secure, and has a 'safety net' available if something goes wrong, thus ensuring a good producer-director relationship).
  • Associate Producer/Line producer (responsible for the main day to day tasks and needs of the production)
  • First Assistant Director (more of a producer than director, he answers to the producer, serving as his 'eyes' on the set)
  • Second AD (This is more of an office job, dealing primarily with paperwork and call sheets)
  • Third AD (He directs a lot of the background action i.e. extras, since the director has his hands full with the main players)
  • Production Assistant
And from there, it branches out into all the other departments (Props, Sets, Art, Sound etc.), something we will get into in future weeks, I imagine. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, and so the discussion of the actual errors of 'La Mancha' will be left for tomorrow's session. As a sort of mini-assignment, we had to go away and think of a film to analyze in relation to the Producer-Director relationship.

To cap off, seeing Man of La Mancha' really rung home the point that, for all of the talent in the world, if the team isn't ready, the whole can collapse just as easily as many lesser, studio-gun type projects, and though it was certainly amusing (hardly a shock, given Gilliam's background as an ex-Python), it also had a tinge of sadness to it, not just because the project never got off the ground, but that this kind of affair could happen to me or anyone else on a film at a moment's notice. As for the second half, it served as a nice refresher from the areas that we had discussed last year, but that was about it. Really, it's a shame we didn't get time to talk about the actual subject we were meant to be discussing, but hey, goes to show you don't need to be a big budget film to get derailed(!)

No comments:

Post a Comment