The Publicist:

Appeasing the locals can go far when filming on location

Appeasing the locals can go far when filming on location

Movie productions on location sometimes ruffle a few of the locals' feathers, which is why I'm sitting in the back room of a ski lodge at a press conference with a smiling mayor, three cynical journalists, and a nervous member of the film commission. Having been asked by the producers to placate the community by speaking to the press, I must wait for everything I say to be translated into German. It's a strange experience. Must be what it's like in the UN. Rumors are flying among the media that must be put promptly to rest. No, Brad Pitt isn't in the movie. No, we do not plan to blow up the water tower as an "effect." No, your town is not playing "itself" in the film. The item of most concern appeared to be the amazing idea that the townspeople were paying for us to shoot there. (If only that were true.) I disabused them of that notion forthwith, and then explained that, actually, we were paying for the privilege of taking over their ski lift and several adjoining lodges for two weeks of shooting. Not to mention the money the production was pouring into the community through hotel, transportation, and dining and recreation expenses. (My bar tab alone was enough to draw an impressive whistle from one of the writers.) It finally began to sink in with them that they were making money out of this whole deal - and suddenly everyone was interested to know how they might arrange to cash in. One reporter inquired, "Do you have a need for the casting of a fine journalist?" Another asked, "Is there to be a sequel?" Still another offered, "Perhaps you'd like someone to document the making of the film?" Um, sorry. That's my job, Gunther. The mayor reiterated that many film productions generate lots of jobs and revenues, not to mention the publicity that comes from being visible in the film. "But how will anyone know that's our mountain in the movie," inquired a narrow-eyed, savvy journo. "I'll include the name in the press kit," I said. "It'll also be listed in the credits at the end of the film." (Note to self: Get the mountain's correct spelling.) The conference concluded and the press took pictures of the mayor and me as I held a wonderful bottle of schnapps, a gift from Hizzoner. I'd vote for him if I could. I promised to share the bottle with the producers. But I won't. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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