A Letter of Recommendation
Two weeks ago I recommended three friends for the new Sundance Film Institute producing program. Today, Mel C. called to ask me to write her a letter of recommendation. Damn! I knew that being nice was going to bite me in the ass. There goes an hour of my day.
I contemplate telling Mel C. to write up her own letter, which I will sign on her behalf. This would save me some time that I really need to spend doing other things, like finding financing for um, SIX of my projects. But, I’m practicing being nice so I can’t refuse her. Also, I write excellent letters of recommendation. I wrote all my letters of recommendation for my college applications, which my teachers then proofread and signed on my behalf. I got into my first choice school, early admission.
I give good letter.
Here’s my letter for Mel C.:
To Whom It May Concern:
My very favorite letter of recommendation was actually written on my behalf by Professor Banergee, the Dean of the School of Urban and Regional Planning at USC. I was applying for film school, but had taken loads of urban planning classes because I liked how human geography explained everything from illegal immigration to infidelity. In his letter of recommendation he simple wrote, “If you don’t take her, we will.” And signed his name.
I wish I could say something as pithy and elegant on behalf of Mel C., but alas I cannot. And I can’t say it not because she doesn’t have exquisite taste in material, because she does. And I can’t say it not because she doesn’t have the soul of an artist and the brains of a scholar, because she has both. And I can’t not say it because I don’t like her, because she is nice! Oh, she is so nice. And has so much integrity. She is SO great to work with.
I can’t say it because if Sundance doesn’t take Mel C., I can’t take her. I can’t give her a job. I can’t afford her.
I am an independent producer. It’s one of the best jobs ever, if you can just deal with constant budgetary issues, like not being able to hire someone who would be a tremendous creative asset to you.
My company does not have the budget to hire Mel C., who is smart and hard working and artistically courageous. The hardest thing about being an independent producer is not raising the money for a movie, but paying your mortgage in the meantime. The best case scenario is your movie makes you a zillion dollars at the box office, and you get a cut of that. Of course, making a movie that makes money and making a movie that is a masterpiece are often two different things. But overall, I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that producing film is very much like being a helicopter mechanic. If your work doesn’t fly, you will probably never get another chance to try again. Suffering for your art isn’t glamorous, just annoying. It wastes time, time that could be better spent making great motion picture.
This is why we haven’t seen the fabulous producing work of Ms. C. on the big screen (yet). She, like most of us in the indie world, have been struggling to make enough money to make enough time to make art.
So, I guess this is the long and wordy way of me saying: “Please take her! She deserves the stipend, the infrastructure and the creative support of the Sundance Institute! Please take her! If she gets a shot at producing, she will do something wonderful! The industry will benefit!”
Because if I did have the extra cash hanging around, I would take her in one hot second.