THE PUBLICIST: They say we just sleep, but films would be nightmares without us

Before a movie begins filming, there's a tedious "production meeting" held a few days before. The department heads surround a huge table while the assistant director - the guy who runs the show - runs through the shooting schedule scene by scene. These meetings are supposed to take two hours, but always take four. There are frequently enough unresolved issues to make everyone worry the project is going to unravel.

Before a movie begins filming, there's a tedious "production meeting" held a few days before. The department heads surround a huge table while the assistant director - the guy who runs the show - runs through the shooting schedule scene by scene. These meetings are supposed to take two hours, but always take four. There are frequently enough unresolved issues to make everyone worry the project is going to unravel.

It's usually decided that there needs to be a lot of other meetings. As the unit publicist, I, too, am considered a department head (but, alas, as a one-person department, I sadly lack a body), so my presence is expected. I usually have but one question: Who is the caterer? Maybe it was the heat, time of day, or excessive carbohydrates (donuts are served at every meal in the South, and I simply cannot resist a glazed), but whatever the reason, I fell asleep. Have you ever suddenly woken up in a room with all eyes on you, and your first thought is, "Was I drooling?" Not me. I always think, "Was I whispering intimate celebrity secrets? Wiping the sleep from my eyes, my only thought was to utter, "Is that lunch?" My napping caused little concern because most in that room think that's what publicists do all day anyway. (Many view us as ghosts, but once the film wraps, we're thrust into the savior role.) Besides, the production is indebted to me for getting numerous media outlets to promote our open casting calls next week. We need hundreds, even thousands, of extras for some scenes, and they all need to be signed, fitted, etc. So who you gonna call? That's right. Now who needs the publicist? TV, radio, newspaper...I got 'em all. I admit, it wasn't hard. A movie production in town is a big deal to small- city folks. Talk about hospitable, I was even able to wrangle backstage press passes to ZZ Top and Ted Nugent. Can you believe it? The Nuge! Anyway, chagrined by the snoozing and lame lunch comment, I seized the "center of ridicule" moment by boldly declaring I had arranged for a live weather report from the Fox affiliate at the audition site. (I had not, of course, but figured I could.) Everyone was impressed. (Imagine if my "department" had a body?) Having turned an embarrassing moment into a triumph, I reached for another donut. So many choices. I went with a cruller. Chocolate.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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