Here’s a funny setup for a movie: take a beautiful control-freak of a woman and make her producer of a morning show at a small TV station. Then take a scroungy but devilishly handsome guy and have him be the crude-talking cynical relationship expert who says it like he sees it, good or bad. Now, let’s make this funny by having her produce his show, even as she finds him a boor and hates what he stands for.
There are few subjects that are more puzzling than love. What is it? How do you know when you find it? Will it last? Is there really “true love” and is there “the one” person out there who is your perfect match, someone who is your romantic destiny?
I met Gail at a non-film event and was surprised and intrigued when she started to share with me her involvement in the quasi-documentary “Protecting the King”, a behind-the-scenes look at Elvis Presley and his posse behind-the-scenes while on tour. She generously agreed to the following interview to help clarify what she did for the film and how it was created and produced. If you’re interested in it, it is for sale through Amazon: Protecting the King
Q: What the heck does an executive producer DO on a movie?
GAIL: Nothing about doing this film follows any rules or guidelines. I’ll give you the Hollywood definition and then tell my story.
Basically, an executive producer of a motion picture is someone who finds or funds the film.
A producer is the one who options the story and develops it. Developing it means to hire the director, writer, actors, put together the financing package if money needs to be raised (including legal documents, budgets, etc.).
If you look up the role of a producer or executive producer you will get a variety of explanations.
In my case I partnered with the writer / director and we started the production company. I filled the COO, CFO, Project Executive and investor relations roles. In the true sense of a start-up I wore many hats.
As the film evolved I took on the role of Executive Producer to have credibility in Hollywood. For me that meant helping raise the money, operate the production company, be involved in casting, pre-production, production, post-production, marketing and distribution.
I was with the film from the day the production company was started to the day it hit the shelves. That time frame was approximately 7 years.
Q: Tell us a bit about “Protecting the King”: what’s it about?
Six films into the Harry Potter series, it seems like Harry, Ron and Hermione are old friends and family members. Between the books and the films, it seems that they’ve been part of contemporary culture for decades, certainly in my household.
Imagine you’ve screwed up your life enough that it’s time for a significant break. A really significant change from your day-to-day reality. For Sam Bell (played brilliantly by Sam Rockwell), that break involves being shipped to the far side of the moon by Lunar Industries, Inc. to work solo on a Helium-3 (HE3) mining facility. For three years.
I’d heard from a couple of friends how wonderful the film Coraline is, but it took me a few months before I finally sat down and screened this movie. In a word: wow!
I have no delusions about warfare, ancient or modern. Films often portray it as a heroic battlefield, offer up images of great valor and make it seem a fun place for camaraderie and adventure. I haven’t been in an active war zone, thank goodness, but I have friends who’ve served, and I’m quite clear that it’s dirty, overwhelming and terrifying. I get that.
I’ve been a fan of science fiction films since I first started watching movies, and have always been particularly amused by the names of companies and organizations within these films. If you’re trying to create an evil corporation or malevolent computer or whatever, do you just pick something seemingly random like the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, or should there be more back story?
For me, the bonus film for fun and entertaining company names has always been a cult favorite of mine, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. How can you not love an alien-run company called Yoyodyne Propulsion Technologies, “where the future is tomorrow”?
When the fine chaps at Nerdoh! approached me about sponsoring a giveaway of one of their great T-shirts, I checked out their site and found some soul mates: they too are obsessed with the companies that appear in sci-fi and horror films. In fact, they generously sent me a sample, a Skynet T-Shirt (and if I have to tell you what movie Skynet’s from, well, then you aren’t a sci-fi fictional company fan!)
Their range of t-shirts ranges from horror, to sci-fi, to comedy, to action, etc, and there are some pretty entertaining ones. I particularly like some of the summer camp shirts associated with shlocky slasher horror films, though I am not generally a fan of the genre.
Anyway, they’ve agreed to let me host a little competition on this blog, with the winner getting their pick of one t-shirt from Nerdoh! Sweet!
Here’s the deal: IMDb has a list of Top Fifty Sci-Fi Films, starting with Star Wars, The Matrix, WALL-E (really?), Alien, Terminator, Metropolis, and so on. Using the list as a starting point, pick two or more movies and invent a cool insider t-shirt based on the malevolent corporation, evil lair, or even the ship or an incidental brand reference and post it here as a comment.
For example: “Technical Specialist IV: Tractor Beam Squadron: Imperial Death Star” would obviously be tied to Star Wars, and perhaps something like “Pleasure Unit Quality Control Division, Tyrell Corporation” from Blade Runner. You might want to watch one or two films if you really want to get obscure on us, and I’ll definitely give points for style…
On 31 July I will pick the winner out of all the entries and notify you that you’ve won a super-cool Nerdoh! t-shirt of your choice. That’s pretty easy, isn’t it?
Get it? Go for it and good luck to you!
Do you pay attention to the food you eat and are you aware of the path it takes from the field or animal to your plate? If you don’t, you might be surprised at the consequences of large scale factory farming and how it’s changed what we eat and adversely impacted the quality and purity of our meals.
Food, Inc. is a very political documentary with an axe to grind, a clear and overt bias against large scale corporate agribusiness. The facts speak for themselves and I already buy organic and local foods whenever possible, but unfortunately director Robert Kenner wasn’t satisfied with letting the facts speak for themselves and what he’s crafted is a piece of agitprop, a movie that takes itself very, very seriously and requires that you either do the same or constantly be asking “Ok, so what’s the alternative?” as it proceeds for 94 minutes.
The film is based primarily on Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, with additional material from Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. Both are essentially investigations into modern farming in the vein of Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, about the Chicago slaughterhouses of the early 1900s. Problem is, I’ve already read Fast Food Nation and was already familiar with the majority of the material in Food, Inc., so it served as rather a boring and depressing polemic.
If you’re not aware of the extreme challenge of farming and raising livestock for an ever-growing population even as arable farm land diminishes, you really should watch this film and get a quick education. Where it’s weakest, however, is where so many of these agitprop films break down: in offering up thoughtful, viable alternatives to the challenges faced by massive scale food production.
Read on for some salient facts on corporate farming and its consequences that I jotted down as I watched Food, Inc.…
I’m a father of three pre-teen children, but when I go to see children’s fare in the movie theater, I generally see it by myself. There are too many movies that are marketed as children’s fare, but that I feel contains themes, language or situations that are inappropriate for my own children (like Land of the Lost, see my review for more details).