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Another Busy Day with Movers and Shakers in Santa Barbara

The producers panel aptly named “Movers and Shakers,” included Charles Roven-Dark Knight, Christian Colson-Slumdog Millionaire, Dan Jinks-Milk, Jim Morris-Wall-E, Neda Armian-Rachel Getting Married were asked questions by Los Angeles Times writer Pat Goldstein that pried open Pandora’s industry box and let fly what it takes to bring a film from concept to fruition.

First question went to Slumdog’s Christian Colson about the recent criticism regarding the youngest lead actors of the film. Rumor has it that the kids were way underpaid. Colson’s comments were as direct as they were candid. While he seemed genuinely aloof about entertainment criticism and it’s subjectivity, he was equally genuine in his annoyance about how, when comments about the film go from entertainment to news, facts are paramount and frankly, the most recent accounts have been less than factual.

So, here’s what Colson said: The kids worked for only 30 days and were paid very well. We’re not disclosing the amount because they don’t want further disruptions in the kid’s lives. Already they’ve been distracted at home and in school. The question, “What is the responsibility of a filmmaker?” in regard to these young child actors was taken seriously.

I liken Colson’s ideas of payment to the story about teaching a man to fish. He said, “do you give them a windfall, making them lottery winners, something they can’t handle mentally, culturally or emotionally or do you do the right thing … provide them with an education and put the money aside until they have the skill set to realistically deal with the responsibility of success? We chose to do the right thing.”

Additional producer tidbits included how Sony Classics is one of the best financers of independent film as they give you the money and leave you alone, how Anne Hathaway believed so much in Rachel Getting Married, that she told her reps she’d pass on Get Smart just to do it, how, in this economy, creative financing is an essential form of survival, and how David Fincher, a despiser of the color red, was influenced to change his mind when Cate Blanchett explained that having never worn a red dress, he couldn’t possibly understand it’s power.

And speaking of red dress power, the “Creative Forces: Women in the Business” panel proved yet again, to be an audience favorite with a hefty houseful of both men and women hanging on every word from this extraordinary group of women. This year’s distinguished guests were Dody Dorn (Editor, Australia), Barbara Munch (Set Director, Milk), Oscar nominees Jacqueline West (Costume Design, Benjamin Button) and Courtney Hunt (Writer/Director, Frozen River) Ginger Sledge (Producer, Appaloosa) all moderated by Madelyn Hammond, an equally dynamic woman whose contributions to film spans over two decades.

When asked how the recent Presidential election influenced the panelists, Dody responded simply by saying she was so proud and grateful, Ginger beamed answering that she was on cloud 9 and that she’s more careful now when choosing when and where to spend her time. Jackie told the story of how euphoric everything seemed on Inauguration Day, even on the 405. (One of California’s most densely populated highways … its my opinion that they call it the 405 because it takes 4 ‘O’ 5 to get to wherever you’re going … but I digress). “Everyone was being so courteous and letting people in, it was really great and I thought, wow, there really is a change.”

She then went on to explain how later she went to a store when two, hip-hop clad men cut in front of her and a flash of disappointment clouded her idealism. That was until she saw them holding open the door for her saying, “Good morning Mam,” restoring her initial faith.

But the most concise comment came from Courtney Hunt summing up what being a woman in any business world really means. Apparently a sound snafu two weeks into shooting was discovered, putting everyone under the stress of “how do we fix this now?” So overwhelmed, Courtney found herself shedding a few tears. Not only did she give herself permission to do so, but she told her crew, “Look, I may be weeping, but I’m still the director of this movie and we’re moving on.”

Words we can all live by.
More from Kimberly Deisler on Santa Barbara

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