Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Indonesian Job - The "Thank You" Dinner

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough"
-Meister Ekhart

Those who follow this blog have seen pics like this before from the "Thank You" dinner.

The "Thank You" dinner actually started a few years ago. For years, I was able to avoid bringing on unpaid interns as the digital age drove budgets lower and lower. On The Unattainable a few years back, I had to bring on an unpaid intern as my assistant (she was here on a student visa from India and could not accept pay, and was being supported by her parents) and we brought on an APOC, Tasha on a flat rate stipend of $1000.

Near the end of the shoot, my POC, Megan, suggested that she buy the APOC a gift and I buy my assistant a gift and we take them out for dinner. We did that at my old haunt, The West Bank Cafe.

A year later, when I did Keep my Brother on even a lower budget (under $100K) I brought on Tasha as my POC and two interns as PM and APOC. Again, we did the dinner, and then added the one paid PA who stayed through the entire shoot.

On this shoot, visa and talent schedule issues threatened the entire shoot. Rini, the Indonesian-American producer, was in Washington DC for most of prep and put in the impossible position of being told by me and my staff on one end what we needed from Jakarta and from their end what they wanted from us, which was often very different.

My staff faced several moments when it looked like the shoot would not happen, including almost a week long hiatus while we waited on visa answers and then whether the key investor would make a transfer of funds. In that time, many production people would have looked for and taken other work. I offered all of them the opportunity to go out and do just that if they needed to.

Not one of them did, turning down sure work to stay with me and "what if."

On top of their talent and their noble efforts, that sort of thing just doesn't happen. There were tense days when I worried almost the entire day about the "what if'" their loyalty to me cost people I dearly respected and, yes, to some degree loved, money.

Thankfully, it worked out, and I took all of them out for a delicious (and drunken!) dinner.

There are many heroic tales to share in coming posts, but let me introduce you to my own Band of Brothers and Sisters.

Left to right above are Rini, who I mentioned above; Arneece, who came in with little film office experience and rose from APOC to POC by the end, Aliki, who is, herself, a producer and line producer and agreed to work with me as production supervisor, Leigh, also a producer, who was my UPM and Locations Manager and oversaw US casting, doing three jobs, two of which were impossible on their own and made harder by our changes; myself, Patrick, our great 2nd AD who worked with a lot of green PAs, and the Big Man, the one and only Brian, our First AD, whose praises I have sang to the heavens often on these pages.

On a shoot where so much could have gone, so much went very right. We came in on schedule and under budget, and it only happened because of the folks pictured here.

I have individually worked with many very good production people, but the good feeling among this entire crew and the Indonesian creative team was so wonderful that in the few wrap days after the film, there were various get-togethers. Aliki and kept marveling at how, on a difficult shoot, everyone had such a great attitude and there was such good cheer.

On a shoot that had huge challenges every day, we all felt very good about getting to work with each other. This is Right Livelihood.

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