Hey everyone, sorry I’m a little late with this month’s update. I know you sit by your computer with baited breath waiting month after month for my updated insights of wisdom, and I hate to keep you hanging. It’s been a busy couple of months for me and the time sort of slipped away. As some of you know, I’ve been working on the comedy show “Chutzpah” for the Jewish Television Network. In addition to that, I was heavily involved in a video for a huge party. Anyway, things have calmed down a bit and I now have time to catch my breath and, subsequently, catch up on everything else.
I got the job on this Jewish TV show through a friend of mine, Brad Mendelson, who was brought on as producer of the show. When the show started running behind schedule, and their original editor was getting overwhelmed, Brad brought me on board to help pick up some of the slack. Anyway, that got me to thinking about how important friendships are in this business. Now I’ve known Brad for around 25 years, first meeting on the set of Curse of the Queerwolf, where he was an extra in a few scenes. He was brought to the film by a mutual friend, Brian Smith, who was an associate producer on the movie. Brad and I had retained a friendship for all these years, and when he needed help on “Chutzpah,” he contacted me.
In the 30-plus years that I have been making independent films, I have retained many close friends, many who have continued to work with me on my projects, whether there is a budget or not. People like actor John McCafferty, who has appeared in practically every film I’ve ever made since he made his Pirromount debut in my 1978 short subject, “Buns.” Special Effects artist, Glenn Campbell, who also worked with me for the first time on that film. Actor (ha) Ron Curtiss, who also made his debut in that film. All three of them worked on my last film, “The God Complex.”
Of course, I had picked up other pieces of my ensemble over the years: Actor Tyrone Dubosé, who first worked with me in 1981 when we started filming, “A Polish Vampire in Burbank,” and who has continued to work on my most recent films; John Ahern, who has been an associate producer on my films since 1998; Tony Cicchetti, who I first met when he starred in our 1991 movie, Nudist Colony of the Dead, and then went on to work on my 1992 film, Buford’s Beach Bunnies, and more recently, in “The God Complex.”
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The reason I bring them up this month is because I’ve been reflecting on how important it is to have a good support team behind you if you’re going to make movies without a lot of money to go around. I know a few filmmakers who couldn’t get a team together unless they paid them to be there. Now, mind you, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a nice feeling to know that we can bring a team together to pump out a movie and money is not the motivating factor behind getting a group of people to show up early to one of our film sets. And even some of these filmmaker who pay their cast and crew have trouble getting them back again for another movie because it may not been all that pleasant of an experience.
Our films are more like parties than work. I can’t stress how important it is for a filmmaker to make their people feel like family and not like members of a crew. Members of a crew will only stick around as long as the paychecks keep coming in. Once the paychecks stop, so does their devotion. However, with our team, if there are paychecks, that’s nice. But if there are not, it doesn’t keep them from coming to work, and that is what true indie filmmaking is all about. When a person is sitting around on a set, they have a lot of time to think. And if they’re not all that thrilled being there, they won’t come back. The reason we keep getting people to keep coming back again and again is because they really do have a good time. In fact, many times, actors have shown up on days they weren’t even needed, just to help out on the set. Now that’s pretty damn cool.
Now the other side of the coin are people who I no longer associate with, primarily because they had shown me over the years that their intentions were not strictly honorable. Brad Waisbren, for example, who had been an actor in a couple of my early films (The Spy Who Did it Better in 1979, Polish Vampire in 1981, Deathrow Gameshow in 1987, Queerwolf in 1988, among others) is someone who showed me that some people don’t have staying power in the Pirromount world, and after a falling out with him in 1996, has never worked on another Pirromount film. But my falling out with him helped me all the more appreciate the other friends I have in my support system.
Over the past few years, I have added to that support system. I’ve met new people with my last few films that I embrace with the same love and appreciation as I do with the older associates: actors Bill Devlin, Ted Nichelson, Lauren Baldwin, Scott MacLaughlan, Doug MacPherson, Angela Hennessey, Andy Guss, Gust Alexander, Kim Thomassen, Jed Rowen, Dani Leon, Suzanna Griffith are just a few of the ‘newer’ arrivals to the Pirromount stable, and will very likely be with us as we continue to move forward.
So here’s to the friendships, relationships, and support that keeps Pirromount moving. I just want you to know that I appreciate you all and thank you for all you have contributed to our films.