Without a doubt I would be labeled as a part of the Cheerleaders/Theater Arts crowd. Like many of my colleagues, I started off as an assistant. Entry level positions in the film business often require you to be presentable, hardworking, and subservient. It is rare that anyone wants your opinion. Initially you spend a lot of time diligently taking lunch orders, making copies and answering phones. I have had both kinds of bosses: ones who wanted a silent worker bee and others who wanted a worker bee with an informed opinion. The first boss I who hired me for my viewpoint was director Reggie Hudlin.
Reggie and I met socially. A self proclaimed nerd (with lots of swag) from East St Louis with a Harvard education, Reggie was a comic book aficionado who could break down the intricacies of comedy. As I do with all Nerds/Brains, I spend much of our conversations, nodding my head and soaking up the knowledge. I was shocked when he suddenly offered me a job as his post production assistant on BOOMERANG. Though it was a short term gig, I quickly quit my office job at the famous actor’s production company. I wanted the experience of really working on a film not just analyzing them.
First day on the job I watched the 3 hour version of BOOMERANG. With no guidance from Reggie, I scribbled my notes throughout the viewing. Afterwards, he asked for my opinion. Reggie listened intensely to my long list of suggestions. I was secretly thrilled when he agreed with many of my ideas. Every day we watched the movie, talked about what to cut then listened to music submissions for the sound track. I also took lunch orders, made copies and answered the phone. One night we shared a very sweet, magical moment. It was pitch dark as we walked back to the production office after a screening. He turned to me and quietly said, “They make movies here”. To date, that remains one of my fondest memories about working in film business. What is the way to win over the Cheerleaders/Theatre Arts? Treat us with the respect we rarely receive. Because we are often supportive of the powerful people, we are expected to well-coiffed. Yet, being presentable can be interpreted as we slept our way to success or are the recipient of nepotism. Now both may be true but this is competitive business that favors males. It is rare for a woman to succeed without real talent. Meryl Poster is a perfect example. Almost twenty years ago, she was Harvey Weinstein’s attractive, smart assistant. Over the years Meryl garnered a reputation for having great taste and tenacity. As the President of TV for the Weinstein Company, she is probably one of few people who can say no to him. So the assistant who is handing you coffee or slides at an audition may be greenlighting your movie in 10 years or a powerful casting director. I probably don’t have to update you on Reggie Hudlin (http://www.hudlinentertainment.com) as many know he recently produced the Academy Award nominated DJANGO UNCHAINED.