Downsizing the DVD Shelf

The production designer for one of my films emailed me out of the blue today. He just realized, two years after the fact, that he’d never received a DVD copy of the film which was part of his contract. He appealed to me for help in getting one from the studio. Since that film was a particularly miserable experience, made miserable by a power-hungry, yet talentless executive with not-so-secret director yearnings, he was hesitant to call the studio for his rightful DVD copy, as he was sure his call would be forwarded to the executive who never, ever failed to be totally abusive toward him. Naturally, since this is Hollywood where casual cruelty is a fact of life, this executive, whose middle name is Crotch, still has a job even though her lack of professionalism is legendary.

Did I call her? No. She is someone I don’t mind badmouthing to anyone who asks, but I just didn’t feel like being in a rotten mood today–which is the mood I’d be in if I called her because she is that ding dang unpleasant.

Instead I offered the production designer my personal copy, and instantly felt pangs of regret…or maybe OCD craziness. That DVD is physical proof of my work. It’s evidence that I actually do work as a film producer, and not just pretend that I have that job description which seems to be a fib that’s reached epidemic levels in Los Angeles County.

I hadn’t actually seen the film since the premiere. The DVD was still in its original shrink wrap. Why was I bummed that I’d offered my copy to the production designer who actually will use it to update his reel and his website? It’s a movie, not a sculpture. It’s not like any of my films are so obscure that I can’t walk into my neighborhood video store and rent a copy any time I want to watch them…which has happened exactly never in 20 years.

I fretted over my decision to give away my personal copy of my movie all the way to the post office.

But now, looking at the half inch gap on my office bookcase where that DVD used to sit, I’m elated. I did something nice for someone on my crew who worked really hard for me under thankless conditions. More importantly, this experience has opened my brain to the following thought:

I am a dinosaur. I’m the last generation of producers whose work will be seen mainly in movie theaters and not on the web, or a cell phone or an ipod. For me, the theater is the movie going experience. Watching a movie, in even the scrungiest theater, with a bunch of strangers who want to laugh and cry along with me in the dark will never get old. It’s one of my very favorite things to do.

I don’t know if I’d have had this recognition of what makes me happy about my job without the nutty preamble as to whether or not I should be stingy with a DVD.

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