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The Director's Chair Issue #38 – Sept. 22, 2003 (Dreaming the Impossible Dream?)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

September 22, 2003          Scene 4 – Take 7

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


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1.  Introduction
2.  FREE Bonus for Subscribers
3.  Action-Cut-Print!
4.  Feature Article – “To Dream the Impossible Dream?”
5.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
6.  Quote of the Month
7.  Out Takes – Movie Cliches: Aliens
8.  Share This Ezine
9.  Suggestions & Comments
10. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
11. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #38 of The Director’s Chair (September 22, 2003).

1) I was so busy last month (working on “Dawn of the Dead”) that
I did not have time to put out the August issue.

2) This month’s feature article is by Michael Pleckaitis, a young
filmmaker from Connecticut, who explains the problems he faces of
being a filmmaker in an area where there is really no film

3) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair please email:



Peter D. Marshall


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4. FEATURE ARTICLE – “To Dream the Impossible Dream?”

“To Dream the Impossible Dream?” – Michael Pleckaitis

As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to work in the movie
industry. I recently was a guest of Peter Marshall’s on the set
of Universal’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead” in Toronto, Canada.

The first thing I asked Peter was “what do I need to do to get
into the film industry?”. He replied with a sharp smirk, “luck”.
Well, that’s the problem, the only luck I seem to have is bad
luck. I hail from the great state of Connecticut. I am a 28 year
old filmmaker who desperately wants to work in the film industry.

After graduating college I immediately went to work for the ESPN
Network as an ENG editor and studio cameraman.  After 2 years I
felt it was time to pursue my filmmaking career. Alongside my
longtime collaborator and college buddy Andrew Gernhard, I
started a small production company called Pioneer Motion
Pictures.  Through which, we have created several feature-length
and short films that have made it to the shelves of Blockbuster
and Hollywood Video stores. We both have a thorough understanding
and complete knowledge of what it takes to produce a picture,
both in the artistic and production sense. Our short, “Mourning
News,” was in several film festivals and was the “Film of the
Day” on the Internet site www.iFilm.com and was purchased by
shortTV, an affiliate of the A&E Network. Our most recent film
“The Root of All Evil” (the sequel to the indy hit “TREES”) stars
Ron “Horshack” Palillo has already been featured nationwide, on
VH-1 TV and on FOX News.

When we arrived on the set I was in awe. The size of the
production was overwhelming. We met Peter just outside the large
convoy of trailers housing the actors and production staff. He
was gracious enough to give us a 5 minute tour and explain what
was going to take place that night. Once the director Zack Snyder
arrived, Peter had to leave us and resume his role of assistant
director. I was impressed with the intelligence and talents of
everyone on the set.

For nearly 2 nights and 14 or so hours I hobbled around the set.
You see a week earlier I had a cast removed from my right foot. I
broke my heal while operating some landscaping equipment. I could
barely stand, let alone walk. I never even let Peter know, most
people called me crazy, I call it desire. Even though my foot
throbbed all through the night, I loved being there

Many people working on the set were surprised that we drove all
the way from Connecticut to “just observe” the production. Little
did they know that it was one of the greatest experiences of my
life. Looking back I don’t think Peter has any idea what it meant
to us. His patience with the extras, producers and the entire
crew was awe-inspiring. As I watched Peter work his craft I saw
where I want to be in a few years. That’s my ultimate goal, I
want to be an assistant director. But where do I start? I have no
problem starting at the bottom and working my way up. I’d fetch
someone’s coffee and drink it for them if they asked. I just want
a chance, an opportunity to prove that I belong. That’s all.

Upon returning from Toronto, the Connecticut Film Office closed
it’s offices for good. To me it symbolizes the state’s movie
industry as a whole. The bottom line is, there is no film
industry. We live in a state that many successful people in the
movie industry call home.  Given our close proximity to New York
City, why aren’t they shooting more movies here?

In Connecticut there are so many people who claim to be
filmmakers but don’t have a clue how to do so. With the digital
revolution taking place, so many people now have access to
pro-sumer editing and camera equipment. Go to any local coffee
shop and you will find a someone who says they are working on a
script or are making a movie. The whole independent scene is
flooded, it’s hard to stand out in a crowded field. Most recently
we were nominated for the “2003 Connecticut Filmmaker of the Year
Award”. The award recognizes filmmakers who have made an impact
in the industry and are from Connecticut. We found out that we
were finalists for this award but that we ultimately lost by a
few votes. Guy Ortoleva, the head of the Connecticut Film
Commission took the time to personally call me and commend our
efforts and told us to keep pining away at our craft. He said
“not to give up”. Everyone tells us how talented we are, that we
are going to make it someday. But how do you get into this elite
club?  We’ve played by the rules. Made the right contacts and
have the drive. What gives? We addressed this issue with Peter
one night as we ate supper.

After spending our second night on the set our time was up. Once
we said ‘good-bye’ to Zack and Peter we decided to drive straight
home. It’s only a 9 hour drive, who needs sleep? As the city of
Toronto faded away in the rear view mirror, I realized what Peter
meant by when he said “working in the film industry was all
luck”. He was right, everyone on the set of “Dawn of Dead” were
the luckiest people I’ve met. The filmmaking industry is a tough
business to get into. Peter told us one thing I will never
forget, he said, “there are no rules in the movie industry only
sins”. He also added, “IF there are NO rules then there’s ALWAYS
a chance”. Because of that ‘chance’ I am still pursuing my dream.


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


“I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five?
Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda
lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most
powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean
off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’
Well, do ya punk?”

Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry,” 1971

7. OUT TAKES – Movie Cliches: Aliens

If there is more than one or two of an alien race, they are
always roughly the same size as humans.

Aliens usually speak English and have same colloquialisms.

All members of alien species wear the same outfits, including
clothing, hairstyles, and jewelry. This makes them readily
identifiable. Aliens who do not dress like aliens are hiding

This may, in fact, be a consequence of the fact that aliens all
have single, monolithic cultures: one language, one religion, one
outfit per planet.


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Peter D. Marshall
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