No one makes it on their own in this business. I didn't. This page is dedicated to the people who gave me
the opportunities and the ones who helped make me look good. Without them, you would not be reading this.
Robert Klein took a chance on me. I had just graduated from the University. of Montana and I was applying for TV jobs all over the country. Blindly. He flew me to Charlotte NC for an interview. No one else was doing that. The Klein company was a 16mm production company that shot sponsored films for Fortune 500 companies. Looking back, they had a formula that was sort of genius for the time. For me... it was like going to Hollywood. I was being interviewed as a writer although my degree was in Radio, TV and Film. While in Charlotte, part of the interview process was to take a written test. I don't think I got even one of the questions on that test right. You had to be actually working in the industry to know some of that stuff... and I was currently working at a shoe store, writing resumes and applying for jobs at night. Robert sent me home with a script and told me to extract the relevant commercial message out of it and rewrite it with a totally different approach. I wrote it on the flight home. I told my girlfriend there was noway I was getting that job.
But I did. I cut my teeth at Klein. Robert and I became good friends. None of us got paid much.... but I met some really creative people and learned a ton of things that would come into play later in life... both in business and personally. When I got offered the job ($8000/yr) I called my dad because I knew I couldn't live on that kind of money. He said look at it like being paid to go to graduate school. He was right and Im glad I did.
Walter J Klein
Obviously Walter was responsible for signing off on hiring me but I believe it was really at his son Robert's request. Walter was never crazy about me. I was young and wild with long hair and probably a bad attitude. But he put up with me... for a while. Walter was the kind of guy who corrected the spelling errors in the airline magazines when we flew somewhere. He also had final say on the scripts I wrote. So after each one I had to sit in front of him while he tore my writing apart. He once gave me a book by Mark Twain and told me he wanted to write like him. I knew it was time to leave then but I stayed and I'm glad I did. We both ended up in court in New York one summer because I had too closely borrowed information out of a pamphlet one of our clients gave us to use as reference. That sort of sealed the deal and I wasn't there long after that. We mutually parted ways and looking back... it was a good move. Later in life I often found myself quoting Walter and even putting some of his business practices into play in my own production company. Funny how you develop over time.
My Uncle Bill
If there is one person, above all, responsible for where I am today it is my Uncle Bill. If you'd like to read that story... check out my full biography on this site. He died before he could see me succeed. One of the greatest disappointments of my life. You can find my bio here.
Jan would probably be surprised to see her name on this list. Jan started the Jan Thompson Talent Agency, one that is still quite respected today. I got to know her when she took over the reins at Jefferson Productions film division. Jefferson was a first class production company and a respected one. They were doing national commercials and many of their directors were leaving to form their own companies... so they were looking for new blood and I was looking for a job. Jan hired me at the end of Jefferson's life as a film production company. She said to me that I needed to develop a style. I had no idea how to do that and figured I'd just copy someone else's style. She informed me that that is not how it works. She also encouraged me to work within a 30 second format instead of the longer format I was used to. If you can make someone laugh or cry, or buy something they probably donate need in 30 seconds... you'll be successful, she said. She was right.
Dennis was the creative mind at Jackson and Associates Advertising. At that time they were doing regional Chevrolet commercials for Chevrolet Dealer groups all over the United States, much like Ford does it today. Courtney Taylor was directing them. But Courtney was tiring of them and he was getting further and further into his drug stage of life. Dennis knew this . I had just started at LV productions as a Jr. Director of sorts, under Courtney which I was cool with. They decided to give me a chance to direct a series of Chevy commercials for Texas. It was like the second string QB being given a chance to play. I jumped on that opportunity and needless to say Courtney was out and I was in. I began shooting Chevy all over the US and having a blast. It is the place where I established friendships with many of the people on this list. They were the old days where you could really get creatively involved with the agency... and being a writer... I jumped all over that. We did some really cool stuff and I was finally starting to make some real money as a director. I think I shot for Chevy for over a decade. I learned so much on those jobs. Dennis died way too young from a brain tumor.
There are some people in life that transcend friendship and take on almost a "brother" status. Todd is one of those people for me.
We met right after Todd started at J Walter Thompson Advertising as "the new guy". Back then, things were different and the writers often presented the creative to the clients, served as the agency producer and art director on set and even manned an extra camera if I needed them to during the shoot. This is the environment Todd grew up in with me.. I think I shot Todd's first commercial and every one after that while he was in Atlanta. When he left for Detroit the reel he took up there was "ours" because the two of us had created it together. He eventually got the opportunity to work with bigger and better directors and his resume grew. Todd had a plan... to be one of the guys who ran J Walter's Ford Advertising... and he eventually made that happen. To me, he'll always be "dude". As he worked his way up the ladder we would occasionally work together but he could not just throw work my way and we both knew that. It came more in the form of his recommendations and the people he introduced me to. He told a coworker of mine once (years ago) on a job , that he wished he had $400,000 to give me on a job to "see what I could do with it". Mind you, the commercials we started shooting together sold for about $30k. Eventually, Todd asked me to come to San Diego and do a lifestyle job for JWT. We shot some great stuff out there and in the end the budget shook out at $400k. He was, and is, true to his word. Along the way he, I ,and some crew members that will remain nameless had some adventures better kept only between ourselves. But Todd Chumley has definitely helped my career as I hope I have his... and I'm proud to have him as a lifelong friend
The last time I had lunch with Jim Bailey he turned to me as he got out of the car and said "thanks for being my friend all these years, you didn't have to do that". No, I didn't.... but everyone is a friend of Jims. Jim and I are about the same age. As I was a struggling filmmaker he was becoming a VP at Coke in charge of Advertising for Coca Cola Consolidated Advertising. CCCA handled their advertising in house. One day Jim walked in my door and wanted to talk about making a commercial. Coke. Wow. Cool. We made commercials together for the next 10 or so years. If Jim called me today and needed help... I'd jump in the car... and vice versa. He's that kind of friend.
When I was working for LV Productions Tom Crabtree walked into the office unannounced and introduced himself as the VP of Advertising for Food Lion, a large regional supermarket chain. He was to the point. He loved writing the commercials but after that he just wanted someone else to take his words and run with them. It was a dream come true. Tom was the best writer I have ever worked with. He loved comedy and we did some wild things. Back then, all Food Lion cared about was having their name at the end of the commercial. They just wanted to brand that name. After we did the first two, he totally trusted us and the leash we got was very long. Looking back, they were some of the most fun commercials I ever shot. I worked with Tom for about 12 years until he retired and worked for Food Lion for another 8 with his successor, Dave Godfredson. Eventually Food Lion hired an outside agency and they started spreading the work around. We still got some of it.. but it waned and we moved on to shooting for Harris Teeter, one of their competitors.
I have shot cars for as long as I have been shooting commercials. I started with Chevy and that relationship lasted 10 years. When it ended we turned our attention to Ford, a relationship I still have today. Frank was nearing the end of his career and I was really just starting to get mine humming. He saw something in me and gave me a chance to shoot for J Walter Thompson on a Ford Taurus commercial. We pulled out all the stops on that first commercial and didn't make a dime. the thinking was "do a good job and maybe they'll come back". They did. Over and over for decades. Ford has taken me all over the United States, introduced me some incredible people, gave me a chance to work with celebrities and helped me build my reel. Like many of my clients, Frank became a really good friend and some of the stories we have can only be told between friends. I would not be where I am today without Frank's help
John was a VP at the Klein Company when I got there. He was a Navy vet with a military work ethic and rode us like a dirt bike. I spent 30 days on a shoot in the Caribbean and got to see John's wild side which probably insured I would never be fired. John and Courtney left the Klein company and formed LV Productions... a company I would eventually work for before I formed Oasis Films. John believed in me and liked (and hated) my young and wild spirit. He gave me the freedom to be creative and the opportunity to become the number one director at LV which started my commercial career. It was back in the day when you shot all day and drank beer and smoked dope on the studio loading dock until it was time to drag your ass home. Some of us "old guys" laugh about those days now when we get together. They are missed
Ah Susan... where are you now? In the early 90's Belk department stores handled their advertising in house. As I've stated before, this was our specialty... working directly with clients. I cut my teeth on fashion commercials with Susan and we did some really fun stuff, including a series of commercials and a music video for JQ and the Bandits, an accapella group out of NYC famous for the Levi's 501 Blues commercials. I worked with Belk for over 10 years and theirloyalty put a lot of meals on the table at Oasis, not to mention helping us build our studio.
When I met Mig she was working for Frank Pringham as an agency producer on the Carolina Ford commercials. Mig was like one of us, more crew than client. Over the years she recommended us, fought for us and protected us. Like Frank, Mig is one of those people responsible for our long run with J Walter Thompson. And yes, Mig could party. It's a wonder we aren't all in some treatment center somewhere. When Mig called me to tell me she was retiring, a huge sadness fell across the phone line. I can see her influence in so many of the old spots I sometimes look back at.
Another J Walter Thompson producer and someone I love calling my friend. Ken is big time now but he cut his teeth along with us on many a Ford commercial. Ken is also a professional magician and I nicknamed him "Magic" after a shoot in Northern California when he blew me away pulling a 20 dollar bill out of an orange during dinner one night. I still remember showing up with Ken and Frank on location in California one morning late. The craft service guy was already putting breakfast away and copped an attitude when we asked for some coffee to start the day. So that night we went to a magic store Ken knew about in San Fran and he stocked up on a bunch of tricks. The next day, fire was shooting out of the toaster, the milk looked like it had worms in it and the guys motor home sounded like it was going to blow up as he drove away that evening. You don't mess with magicians. Ken and I did so many commercials together I would not know where to start remembering them.
When Tom Crabtree retired from Food Lion, Dave Godfredson stepped in. Food Lion represented a big portion of our bottom line so working for Dave was a priority for me. Dave, along with Jim Bailey at Coke, and Frank at JWT were really the people who got me into Nascar. Food Lion became the official supermarket of NASCAR and every season we were shooting crazy commercials with the biggest names in the business... Gordon, Earnhardt, Petty, Labonte, Stewart.... all of them. And the commercials were so silly that they became iconic. Even the drivers, who normally hate doing media, got a kick out of them. Over the years Godfredson and I realized we had parallel youths... both hitchhiking across the country, starting with nothing, trying to get into the business. When Dave left Food Lion shooting for them lost some of its fun. He is a huge reason I went on to have success in NASCAR.
Bill is one of the most unique agency guys I ever met. He's quirky. But he's smart as shit and he "get's it". And thank god he latched onto us for 10 years. His biggest account was Heil / Tempstar heating and cooling and the Tennessee Titans. Bill loved dogs so you could pretty much count on having one in your commercials with him. In fact, he loved putting all kinds of animals in his spots. Besides the famous dogs and crazy animal trainers we worked with we had lizards and vultures, dog sleds and even a camel. Bill has an imagination and that imagination has taken us to some pretty crazy places... like the sand dunes of Yuma Arizona (to pass for the Sahara in a French Foreign Legion spot) to 20 below in International Falls, Minn (to pass for an arctic dogsledding location). When people ask me what the most fun I've had shooting something... Bill's name typically surfaces. He's one of the best creative writers I know.
When I was a young gun, Arnold was doing the Duke Energy image spots with one of my competitors. He had no intention of ever working with anyone except who he was already working with. Then one day, my Rep got her foot in the door and an opportunity was at our doorstep. We pulled out all the stops for that commercial, spent just about all of the production budget and made an impression. Arnold latched onto us for a while after that and I will forever be indebted to him for doing so. The stuff I shot for him is some of the highest production value stuff I have ever worked on. What a great opportunity. His spots were on my reel for years.
Besides Ford, Harris Teeter Supermarkets is one of our biggest clients. We have done millions of dollars of work together. And Steve Kent, my client and my friend, is responsible for me still being around after all these years. From a quirky kid who drew super heros and comic books growing up, Steve has developed into a first class advertising creative. He "gets it". For a while in the early years we would bump heads creatively from time to time. but over the years we transitioned into a team that has done some really fun stuff. It's not every supermarket that takes you to Jackson Hole to shoot cowboys, or Amish Country to shoot Iconic Barns... or shows up on your doorstep one morning with Hulk Hogan in tow. I hold my breath every time Steve calls with a new idea because it's often either going to be impossible to shoot... or difficult. But somehow, we always pull it off. Work isn't supposed to be all about "work"... and with this character... it isn't. I'm lucky to have him as both a friend and a client.
When you are a commercial director... you are basically on your own. Other directors are afraid of you stealing their work so they don't give you any guidance. There are also no classes you can take that "teach" you how to direct. It's baptism by fire. I hired Kay as a producer because she had more experience than I did when it came to the bigger jobs. She was Oasis' first producer and although I didn't do a great job of letting her know this... she taught me so much. I depended on her for almost everything and together we built a production company. The day she left I was scared. But I quickly realized that her job was done... she had taught me what I needed to know to be successful... and I love her for that.
I hired Krista right out of school as a production assistant for Kay. Like many of the producers I've had, Krista was like a daughter. Her personality was infectious and so balanced. Southern born and bred, she had a presence about her that everyone loved, including my clients. When Kay decided to leave it was only natural for Krista to fill her shoes. It was baptism by fire but she killed it, again becoming someone I didn't want to live without. To this day I smile every time I hear her voice or see her smile. She was with us for years and saw us through some of the coolest times at Oasis. Eventually, her family came first... or should I say starting a family came first... and she was gone. Good for her for having the guts to move on.
John showed up one afternoon at LV productions, the company I was working at with John Burgess and Courtney Taylor, looking for an opportunity. John had been a producer in New York and had done some pretty big things. He was winding his career down but still wanted to keep his hand in the game. He worked with LV as a producer on a job or two that I did and we got to know each other. It was John who encouraged me to start Oasis Films. He would be the executive producer and my rep... I would be the creative talent. Scariest time of my life because I knew nothing about starting a business and had less money than sense. Through his guidance Oasis came to life in 1990. You can read about the journey in my biography... but John and I did some good things during those early years and eventually we even made some money. His connections with people like Hank Williams Junior and a few rock bands were my introduction into music videos. I quote him to this day. He died of cancer shortly after leaving Oasis.
I have a daughter, Ashley, who I love dearly... and I have Megan, the closest thing I have to "daughter number 2". When Krista decided to start her family, Oasis found itself once again without a producer. And that's not good. Megan was working at a post production house across town learning how to edit and making chump change. She had no production experience but she had potential. We could all see that. I decided to take a chance and hire her as our new producer. Mainly I did it based on interviewing her and getting a feel for her work ethic. She was a self motivated, driven, organized, project oriented woman, eager to learn and to please. Oasis was no longer a slow and sleepy production company. We were rocking it by this time and there was no room for mistakes. Megan hit the road running and never stopped. If I ever become President, chances are she will be my VP. Chances are I'd be assassinated and then she'd be President... and trust me she'll do fine. You don't normally love the people you work with, but I love Megan. She protects me. She can finish my sentences. She knows my business and my business mannerisms. I trained her and I trust her. We have been through a lot together and I would take a bullet for her, as I believe she would for me. After two decades, she is still my producer.
I could probably write five pages on Vaughan. She was Oasis' first full time employee, and the most valuable. She wore a lot of hats working for me, especially when money was tight. She was my right hand man (woman). Eventually, she became my executive producer and sales rep. But she was so much more than that. You hear people talk about their "work wives" and "work husbands"? Well, Vaughan was mine. She was my sense of reason and calm in sometimes stormy seas... and frankly made me not only a better filmmaker but a better person. Together, we saw each other through good times and bad, travelled the country shooting commercials, had some fun and yes... made some money. The day she decided to retire was a sad day for me. I decided not to replace her because frankly she could not be replaced. In leaving, she was unknowingly instrumental in pushing me in the direction of ramping down my big production company and pursuing only the jobs I wanted to do without the overhead and pressure of always having to fund a production company... a boutique company.... which looking back on, was one of the smartest things I have ever done. I truly love Vaughan.
You never recognize the "good ole' days" when they are happening, but Bob was there for many of mine. We were both green and full of ambition. I wanted to be a shooter and a director and Bob wanted to be an assistant cameraman. Together, we looked at every job as an opportunity to learn. When we started we were shooting reversal film stock in 16 mm. Together we cut our teeth on shooting 35mm... learning (sometimes the hard way) along the way. Bob was a good friend who I often think about and miss. He married one of my clients, moved to Hollywood and became big time. Good for him!
When you are a cinematographer, your first lieutenant is your assistant cameraman. You sit shoulder to shoulder to them on every job, right next to the camera. You get to know them and they get to know you. You laugh, cry, ask and give advice to each other. When Bob Smathers moved to California I was lucky enough to find Alan Corder. At the time, he was a skinny kid with hair down to his waist... but he took cinematography seriously. Alan came along during a time that we were traveling all over the US shooting. So not only was he my trusted AC... he also became my good friend. He eventually got out of the business to open a little retail store. Freelance movie making can wear you down and I applauded Alan for a gutsy move. But he is still missed.
I wish everyone could hang out with Bill Burt for just one day. He is the wildest character I have ever known and we latched on to each other years ago. A former combat photographer in Vietnam who later rode around with Hell's Angels, Burt could drink more alcohol and do more drugs than anyone I have ever known... and still get up the next morning and be on the set bright and cheery at 6. His personality was infectious. He did and still probably does, live hand to mouth as a freelancer. I never wanted to be him, but there was a lot about his personality that I wanted to mimic. I never met anyone who didn't like Bill and he became one of my posse, a Rat Packer. He, along with a number of other freelancers were regulars on my jobs... be them here in Charlotte or anywhere else in the United States. Oh what stories we could tell..... or can't tell
If Bill Burt ever had a son (and who knows... he may have several) it would be Brett.... another wild man, just younger. Brett is my most dependable grip and a good friend. We have known each other for decades. He too is a member of the posse. These guys look out for me and if the truth be known... are responsible for making me look good all these years. I truly depend on them and smile every time I walk on to a set and see them there.
My gaffer. When you are a cinematographer you lean on your lighting guys and Fritz, in my opinion, is one of the best. He is one of the last remaining "old guys" (I'm including myself in that statement). He knows my style and we know each other's personalities. I don't know how many commercials we have shot together... but it is in the thousands. When I reminisce, it's usually sitting on the back of Fritz's grip truck with him sitting beside me. He's another one of those guys that I believe would take a bullet for me, and many of the stories we have can not be told in mixed company. Without him, I would probably be shooting weddings.
I met Garret on a ford job in Northern California while freelancing for another production company. He is an assistant director who was assigned to keep me in line and not blow all of the production company's money on that job. We hit it off immediately. One reason was his west coast personality and our common interests, but he was (and is) the best AD I have ever worked with. That started a personal and professional relationship that we still share today. I trust him so much that I had him direct Nick Saban for me (rough duty) when I could not make it back from Norway in time for the shoot (long story). Since that first day we have spent time all over the United States shooting and frankly, having fun. If there is one person I'd like to hang out with on any given day... it's Garret. He makes me better.
My brother and one of my best friends. When I was working at the Walter J. Klein company right out of college I found myself in a position to get both of my brother's jobs. Before we knew it, we were all working in Charlotte and living together. There was always a hidden competition between the two of us. He envied my production company and I envied the opportunities he was getting as a soundman on big time movies. We had our ups and downs but we always had each other's backs when we worked together... and we did that a lot. It was just great having him yell "speed" every time I yelled "sound" on set. Steve died a few years ago unexpectedly and to be honest, a part of my desire to be a film director died with him. It's just not the same anymore. but oh those years growing up in the business together! Of everyone I have ever known, I miss him the most.
Phil is a Director of Photography... and I liked shooting my own stuff. So it is somewhat of a surprise that we hooked up. But eventually I started to feel like I had hit a wall as a cinematographer and I started looking for someone to bootstrap me to the next level. That's where Phil came in. Phil has "the eye". His stuff just looked better than mine. So I started hiring him. We also kicked off a great friendship. Together we did some of the most memorable stuff either of us has ever done... stuff that still holds up to this day. Phil is also one of the funniest guys I know and I loved the energy he brought to the set. Eventually we both extracted everything we could from each other professionally and we both moved on. But I still recommend Phil for jobs and I get a big smile on my face every time we talk. You see Phil's work often on TV.
We lost Tom about a year ago and he will be forever missed by me. Tom's company, Studio Displays, built props for me. I walked into his shop in the 80's needing the interior of a two story apartment built with a floor that an actor could fall through all the way to the basement for a Charlotte Observer newspaper commercial. Tom was building those holiday displays you see in the mall at the time and jumped at the opportunity. The spot won several awards and it started a friendship that lasted until Tom was gone. We even built our studios next to each other. Over the years we built some of the craziest things you can image. I miss Tom, but his spirt lives on in his brother, Chris... my go to prop guy today. It's one of the most fun parts of my job.
Suzanne worked as one of my props "people "and food stylist for years. She is McGyver with a female's touch. During those days she not only became a valuable resource but also a valuable friend. I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my lifetime, as we all have. If you're lucky you have some people in your life that are there to catch you when you fall, pick you up, dust you off and get you back into the game. Like many of the other crew members on this page, Suzanne was there during what I now refer to as "the good ole' days", although we did not recognize them as the good ole' days back then. Eventually Suzanne went on to do movies and then got a real job (as we like to say) that offers a steady paycheck and some health insurance. But recently she reappeared to help us out with some of her much needed food styling skills. I know I sound like a broken record... but with out her help over the years I would be in a different place. She's special in many ways and makes me better.
Claude Locke took me under his production company's wing at the request of J Walter Thompson Advertising. He was doing a lot of Texas Ford commercials. at the time and so was I... just not in Texas. But that changed with our relationship and partnership. Texas is a big state and these were big jobs. Claude checked his ego at the door and asked me to direct a lot of those jobs through his production company. We had a handshake agreement in Texas and it still remains to this day although both of us have slowed down. I was always treated both special and as a local in Texas. We worked hard, ate well, partied often and did some great work, Not to mention the friends I made and the cities I got to visit and work in. Texas will always hold a special place in my heart because of Claude.
Another member of the Rat Pack. Mike is a first class soundman. So was my brother. But my brother often went off for months doing movies and we kept doing what we do. We needed a soundman and Sexton's name kept floating to the top. He owned the gear and had the ear, as we like to say. In fact he owned so much gear that it cost me a small fortune to take him to Montana on an Animal Planet project years ago. I remember walking into his cabin one morning and he was drinking some fancy coffee before we got started for the day. I said..." my room doesn't have a coffee machine". Mike said "that's because I brought my own!" Now I know what was in all those cases he was counting at the airport. Mike is a great friend and like so many of my posse he has traveled with oasis to many a city. We know things about each other that we don't share and have stories we can't tell. but he's never let me down... not in the sand dunes of the desert when it was 104 or the snowbanks of International Falls when it was -15. And when I need my football fix... he's just a phone call away.
Flashback to 1981. A lot of the guys on this page and I are working for the Klein company of films with a budget of about $15k. We can't hire any real grips so my soundman (Jack Rainsford) says his brother would do it. Mark was working at Discovery Place downtown at the time taking care of the shark tank. We pulled him out of there and paid him $50 / day to help us. Flash forward to 1992 and Mark is sitting on the set of Tombstone swigging tequila with Sam Elliot. Mark has worked on a lot of the movies you have in your favorite collections and many that you have never heard of. But Charlotte is home and whenever I can, I request him to be on my jobs. He's one of my best riggers and living in NASCAR country that skill has real value. He's also kept me strapped into the camera car on many occasions while we navigated the banked curves at Charlotte Motor Speedway at high speed while playing cat and mouse with some of NASCAR's best drivers. Thanks for keeping me alive, Mark.
In this business you need a guy on your crew that can build, fabricate and fix anything. Talmadge is that guy for me. I remember when I built my studio I had the construction guys pile these big boulders out in front so we could use them as landscape features. On a job one day Talmadge and I were talking about those boulders. I said what would be cool is if we could embed a sword in one of them like Excaliber. Two days later Talmadge showed up with what looked like King Arthur's sword. Realistic and stainless steel. I said "where did you get that?". He said "I made it". He spent the rest of that day hammering into a boulder and embedded it into the rock. For the rest of the time I owned the studio parents would bring their kids by to see if they could pull the sword out of the stone. No one ever did. Most of the time when I hear his name... it goes like this... "just call Talmadge".
This is more of a shout out than a thank you because this boy has been both "most valuable player" and "dipshit", depending on the day. JG's mom was Jim Bailey's (my coke client) executive secretary's son. She called me one day and asked me if I could give her son a chance on one of my jobs. She said he was lost and maybe I could give him some direction. I had Megan give him a call. On the day of the shoot someone pulled him aside and said if you're going to work with Jeff you need to be fast... don't just stand around. I turned to JG on that shoot later in the morning and said "I need you to do something. Go to the truck ...and get me......" He was gone. He took off for the truck before I even finished telling him what I needed him to get. I saw something in that. Over the years we used JG in a lot of roles. Mostly we had him drive our gear from city to city so we didn't have to ship it. San Fran, San Diego, Florida, Vegas... the list is long. He had a CB radio, a handle called "GhostRider" and enough drugs to keep him awake on the drive. Eventually that bit him in the ass and we parted ways. but I'll always have a soft spot for JG. He got us out of a lot of jams with his "hey, I know a guy..."
Distant relative to Dale Earnhardt and another one of my favorite gaffers. Being Atlanta based we only use him on the jobs we could afford to but we used (and use) him a lot. He's one of the Rat Pack. He was on that same job in Montana for Animal Planet. We were working with a 700 lb tiger in the snow on one of the days and I put a camera in everyone's hands, Bobby included. Everyone was a little nervous. It was Bobby who coined the phrase "if the tiger attacks one of us the rest of us keep shooting". That tiger did knock my brother down but no one got killed or injured (yes, Bobby kept shooting) Like many of my gaffers, Bobby makes me look better. He also makes me laugh. I've stolen a lot of his sayings like "hurry up guys... while our clothes are still in style" which a lot of my crew think I originated.
An unlikely friend. Murray was highly religious and didn't drink or do any drugs. But he was another one of those guys who could create just about anything and for years he was my go-to props guy. Small or large, gathered or fabricated... Murray was on it. We traveled everywhere together on jobs. There are some people you just click with and Murray was one of those people for me. I came to depend on him and felt out of my element when he wasn't available for one of my jobs. He could make it rain or snow or lightning... both figuratively and literally. Eventually he decided to get a real job like many freelancers do and he's been very successful at it with NASCAR. I ran into him in line at the airport not long ago and those brief moments together was like going back in time. I miss Murray.
The people I owe the biggest shout outs to on this page are my props people... and if you have read this far you know this. More than anyone else, these people made me look good. And trust me, it's hard to work that position for me because I have an eye for detail and a micro management style of running a set. Jim Glouster wanted to be an actor. And he is in fact one and a good one. But unless you live in LA or NY its hard to raise a family on an actor's salary. So a lot of these guys work production as well. When Benita, Murray, Suzanne and a host of others moved on... Jim Glouster stepped in... and in a big way. Jim became someone I could not live without and we travelled the country together. If I could dream it, he could find, steal or make it. He was invaluable and I owe him so much. Eventually Jim got a break on Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell and he took off. The production designers loved him and soon he became a production designer himself. Now Hollywood owns Jim... and they even awarded him an Emmy or two for VEEP. I can see why. Im just glad I had him by my side for a few years.