THE PUBLICIST: Gathering the entire crew for a photo is rarely a pretty picture

One of the obligatory tasks of a set publicist is arranging a group photo of the entire film crew. It's a necessary ritual on every movie, even though the hard-won shot likely winds up in the attic trunk next to the sixth grade homeroom photo and an old baseball glove.

One of the obligatory tasks of a set publicist is arranging a group photo of the entire film crew. It's a necessary ritual on every movie, even though the hard-won shot likely winds up in the attic trunk next to the sixth grade homeroom photo and an old baseball glove.

The ordeal begins with a conversation with the assistant director, who determines if and when anything happens on set. The reaction of the AD is always the same. "Oh, man, tomorrow? That's the worst day possible. Couldn't have picked a worse day. Really." The publicist's riposte is likewise always the same. "Yes, but you said that last time. You always say that." "I know. Those days were awful. Tomorrow's worse." Time for the trump card. "But we must do it tomorrow. The cast isn't together again until the final week, and the photographer will be gone by then." Grudgingly, he relents. "Fine. We'll do it when we break for lunch. Put it on the call sheet. Oh, man..." The next step is calming the petrified photographer, who sweats at the prospect of standing before the hungry and impatient masses. At the appointed hour, we round everyone up in the manner one gathers relatives for a game of touch football after consuming 100 pounds of Thanksgiving turkey. Cajoling, pleading, threatening, demanding, begging, coaxing, whatever it takes. Slowly, inevitably, the drift of humanity takes shape. As the moment nears, the photographer quivers. "Don't leave me," he pleads. "Stay until the last second. Don't make me stand here alone." "I'll be here," I solemnly promise, as if he's facing a firing squad. "We're in this together." Two actors and a producer are running late. Do we wait? "Just shoot the damn picture," the AD barks. "You can Photoshop them in, right?" One of the assembled actors likes this idea. A lot. "You can Photoshop me in too, yes? I'm outta here." With the entire shoot on the verge of a meltdown, the photographer begins madly snapping away like the paparazzi stalking Liz Taylor. Through a hail of taunts from the crew, ten frames are shot. "We got it. Thanks everyone," I yell, before being trampled in the stampede to the lunch tent. In a final indignity, someone tosses a half-eaten plum at the photographer, who has also gone down in the mad rush. "I hate crew photos," he says, as we dust ourselves off. Me too.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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