FIRST OFF… IF YOU DID NOT READ THE LAST POST, CLICK HERE OR SCROLL DOWN AND READ THAT ONE FIRST…
OK, so to recap… 24 hours ago, this opportunity did not even exist. And now, having read a script, been grilled by Judy over and over, and after waiting in Starbucks for several hours, the phone had rung and I was heading down the street to the production office… (remember, I am bound by a Non Disclosure Agreement – I cannot reveal any facts about this production, so I have to be vague in places…)
So… Seven minutes later and I am met at the doorway of the production offices by a production assistant and whisked down a hall to wait. In my hand I have a print out of the updated awards list from ‘Gone Fishing’, now nearing 40 wins…
The PA (a friend of mine) sees the list in my hand and says, ‘forget about that, he knows about the awards and he said to me, ‘I am not interested in any awards he has won… they are meaningless to me’ and so I wouldn’t bring it up…!
I pocket the list hurriedly.
‘He is just on the phone to the Americans… he will be ready to see you in a moment…’
The time ticked by and I felt myself ease down into a confident state – I knew my stuff, I read and liked the script, I had prepared for hour after hour with Judy asking tough questions, I knew I could do a damn fine job with this film… Sure I was nervous, I needed that energy to keep me on my toes, but I was also quite calm… I WAS READY!
And then I got the nod… ‘Go in…’
My heart beat faster. My senses heightened. Sound was crisper. Colours brighter. Maybe I really had drunk too much coffee at Starbucks while I waited?
When I entered, I was greeted with a warm handshake and invitation to sit on a sofa… ‘This will need to be fast as I have a meeting in 15 minutes with some financiers… so you liked the script then?’
I was about to answer when four other people entered the room – other producers involved in the production. I was introduced to each…
‘So again, you liked the script…?’ I was asked.
My meeting had expanded from a one-on-one to one-on-five. All successful and high powered people, looking me right in the eye, looking for that crack in the armour, that stammer in my answers, that vagueness in my vision… looking to see if I would crack under pressure…Looking to see how I performed ‘in the room’.
So I launch into my thoughts… Again, because of the Non Disclosure Agreement, I can’t say much about what we discussed, aside from the meeting went on from 15 minutes to one hour. Plus it transpired that it was definitely a studio picture with a budget of many, many millions, and national distribution next year. For me it would be a HUGE step up.
I was bombarded with tough question after tough question… ‘What if you snap after four weeks?’, ‘You have never made a film this big…’, ‘What’s the biggest budget you have ever handled?’, ‘Who would you cast…’, and loads more, like little scud missiles – frankly I can’t remember many of the questions as it’s a bit of a blur now.
Overall though, I did feel that I held my own among a group of people who had clearly worked in a team before and were quite happy to pitch in and talk over each other, over me, and generally toss little verbal hand grenades into the conversation every now and then. It was robust and boisterous.
After some time, two of the ‘bigger’ producers left, leaving me with the others – and we talked for some time about logistics. It was a good chat.
And then I was invited to leave with a warm handshake. I would be contacted soon.
Shell shocked, battered, bruised and emotionally drained, I found myself heading back to Starbucks to meet Judy. I felt a bit like an actor after an audition must feel – it went well I am sure, but then the niggling little voice starts over analysing… What about this? Should I have said that? Maybe I should not have mentioned the other?
I met with Judy and debriefed – we went through everything and after analysis, it was clear, I pretty much did as best as I could. I mentioned everything I had planned to bring up, I answered all their questions honestly, confidently and succinctly, and with considered passion and enthusiasm. We headed back to Ealing… wondering ‘what if…’
And as we waited for the phone to ring, we wondered some more.
And talked some more about what would happen if we suddenly found ourselves working on a multi million dollar studios film next week.
And still we wondered… And waited… Talk about nerve jangling.
Then, at about seven thirty, my iPhone started to hum my familiar ring tone, the main theme from the original 1970’s film, ‘The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three…’ And I recognised the number. Judy and I looked at each other. This was it… The next 30 seconds would reveal everything…
I answered… ‘Hello?’
The voice said…‘Chris, is that you…?’
Onwards and upwards!
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author