My Life as an A.D.
That summer I was introduced to a Unit Production Manager
named Dirk Petersmann. He brought me into his office and asked
what I wanted to be in the business. He said "If you want to
direct, then direct. If you want to produce, then produce.
Anything else, you're going to have to work for it." And then
he got me an interview with the 1st Assistant Director of the
movie that he was working on "Red Heat" directed by Walter
Hill. The 1st A.D., Jim Dyer, was concerned that I had never
been a Production Assistant but this was his first show having
to use computer scheduling and I had lot of computer skills on
my resume. Next thing I knew, I had a job helping Jim enter
all his scheduling into a computer (one that was called a
portable at the time, definitely not a laptop!). Barry Thomas
was the 2nd A.D. The movie was starting out in Chicago and
they didn't normally take P.A.s on location. My dad was going
to be the gaffer and he volunteered half his room for me and
so off we went. I continued with the computer work while
working on the set too. Whenever there was a schedule change I
would be lugging my portable all around town in abandoned
warehouses or wherever the location happened to be that day or
night. I learned the job of an Assistant Director and
eventually was given the task of taking care of the actors.
The movie starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi. We
returned to Los Angeles and continued shooting all around Los
Angeles. As that part of the show came to an end they were
preparing to go to Hungary for the last leg of the show.
Arnold hinted to me to not be surprised about being invited to
go with them but I knew that I was only a Production
Assistant. Well, the rumor has it that over Christmas Break,
Arnold was skiing with one of the Producers and he said, "You
should really take care of the little people because one day
they will be the producers and you will need a favor, they
will remember you". After Christmas, I got a phone call from
the UPM. He said "Okay, you're going with us but you're flying
coach!" I was off to Hungary! I had the job of 2nd AD and took
care of the American crew while we were there. We ended up
going to Austria as well because we needed to have snow. As my
first job as a Production Assistant, I knew I was hooked!