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Gil CatesLinda LavinSamantha MathisDennis Doty

From Stage to Screen
The Producer's Job

The Producer's Job Dennis DotyProducing a play is largely about money. It's about getting the money and the available space and hiring the right director to do the script that you feel so passionately about. A film is a little bit different. It's a much bigger enterprise... you're not dealing with just actors on a stage and a director. You're dealing with over 50 people that have to come to work everyday to put this thing together. It's a much more complex, organization kind of thing.

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The biggest challenge is that you only have so much money and that tells you how many days you'll have to shoot the film. In this case we had a 100-page script to shoot in 12 days, which was a Herculean task for the director and actors, and that ripples out to the entire crew. You have to shoot a lot of pages each day, and that means you have to have all the tools available every minute. The actors are always working, 12 hours a day. You're always working under the gun.

In such a compact production, one of the biggest challenges is shooting on location. We had to find New York in Los Angeles, which is not an easy task for the outside of the apartment and street corner store and just the general streets of Greenwich Village. The one we found worked out well, and the great production designer Roy Cristopher created a wonderful-looking New York apartment, right down to the pigeon on the windowsill.

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Collected Stories Set
We had to create a big night-time rain sequence. You'd have thought we were shooting The Godfather! It was a massive undertaking for a little film but those moments added a huge amount of production quality in the ability to be outside and feel a different attitude to this basically interior story. We had a 140-foot crane and rain coming down, the neighbors on their balconies watching. It was exciting, like big-time moviemaking for PBS Hollywood Presents.

Working with PBS

      KCET Backlot
My first task as producer was convincing Donald [Margulies] that this was the best forum to bring the play to film. We'd originally been talking about cable television. Donald was insistent from the beginning that this material be done without commercial interruption and without the constraints normal television presents. We were in complete agreement. KCET offered the opportunity to do the play faithfully, as the play, while opening it ever so slightly into a film. Donald saw the plusses right off the bat.

PBS is the perfect home for this material. The play runs its length, it doesn't have to be chopped or filled to fit a specific time period. The play's the thing. For the playwright, that's a very appealing situation. And the enthusiasm of the people at KCET was infectious. They were never interfering or demanding; they were always there to help make the screenplay into the best film it could be. That's a unique joy.




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