How cool was it when Mr. Sconce posted his news that he was rubbing shoulders with movie icons!
Not only that; he reported that they know who he is!
How many people in the world would love to be involved in the entertainment industry, much less be one among the few who have actually ‘made it’ in this competitive arena? The number of people arriving in Hollywood from all around our planet each year is truly astounding. Equally astounding is the number of those whose names and whose faces we will never see- ever.
We are truly happy for Matt Sconce. This leads us onto the purpose of this month’s blog . . . . Why and how did Matt get there?
First of all, it is important to understand that, within a Nano second of my initial greeting of, “HI” to Matt, I could tell that he is foremost, a good, down-to-Earth fellow. Although this brief connection has remained as such, the FB page posts and comments, and the admiration from those of you who work with him, only reinforce my first impression.
This to say: I know that Matt Sconce did not post this to boast this! He is genuinely excited and feels privileged to be there among these world-class actors and celebrities. To be recognized must have been truly awe inspiring as well. We all know this recognition is well-deserved.
Again, what he is not doing is bragging! He did not report the news to us for us feel ‘less than’ in any way. We all know that he wanted to share the joy of the experience with all of you! These new contacts have offered a platform from where he can honestly say, “We are here, and we did what it took for all of us to begin to participate in this great slice-of-life and to begin to collectively reap the rewards!”
He mentioned meeting Harrison Ford! How awesome is this! Mr. Ford started out as a cabinet-maker, and a very good one. ‘Circumstances’ led him to be cast in American Graffiti, as we all know.
SO, what make Harrison and Matt alike?
In a huge ballroom crowded with hundreds of cast and crew, Mr. Ford was doing the banquet speech in his movie: AIR FORCE ONE- speaking Russian. No one watching the final film would surmise that Mr. Ford had to do his lines over and over again. The air was thick with tension and a feeling of embarrassment for the scene and its actors. FINALLY, after try after try, he got it right! When he left, Mr. Ford was smiling, waving heroically to the crowd as he exited the building for another scene. Some would have kinda- drifted out and be gone.
One late night, Danny Glover was tired and definitely hungry. I was standing by Craft Services when he came up to get something to eat. The CS was closed. I could tell he was really upset. He made a short comment to himself and stamped off. Things like a cup of coffee and snack may seem like a little thing, but they are so well-appreciated when they are available to keep us going. Even the great ones hit snags and disappointment. No one, except him you and I will ever know that happened- or care.
Jerry Seinfeld was called over to review a scene they were ‘perfecting’. The question, as I recall, was whether Kramer would exit and leave the door open or close it on his way out. Now . . . Jerry and the rest of these comic giants were focusing strongly on this seemingly miniscule issue. No one would ever see the show and ask themselves, “Why is the door still open, or how come he didn’t close it?” Figure that with the budget they were working under, a few minutes of down-time could pay for a college education. Nevertheless, the action tarried as they went for ‘perfection’ to consider what no one else would ever notice. The simple attention to details is amazing.
The late, great Director John Frankenheimer (Emmy winner: Manchurian Candidate-Frank Sinatra) was directing a TV mini-series- WALLACE with Gary Senise. Gary was having a little difficulty giving a speech on the street to a few hundred of the cast and crew. Instead of Mr. F., getting bent out of shape, he told the crowd. “Don’t worry, he can do this OK,” in a fatherly reassuring way. Mr. F. won another award for his support and confidence building.
At the end of a very long day on NEGOTIATOR with Kevin Spacey, a well-recognized character actor was in the parking lot and going to his car. He said something to me that I won’t forget. He felt inclined to tell me how amazed he was to see Mr. Spacey in action. He was not only humbled by the performance, he said how he can see and understand how Kevin and his technical acting skills makes him is such a tremendously gifted actor. Like true talent, a million little things may seemingly go unnoticed, but when combined, they are extremely powerful.
Richard Gere is actually known for being friendly to those ‘groupies’ who see him around the set. Many an actor, especially after a long, exhausting day, would hardly raise a palm to us. Those who have been there know respect him as an actor and a great person as well. Most of the world simply knows him as a great actor.
Take James Atherton doing a scene with Halle Berre and John Spiner (Data). We were working on an office scene in the TV movie THE DOROTHY DANDRIDGE STORY. James was smoking a cigar. The take looked super to me, but the Director needed to ‘direct’. She and he discussed the nuances of the scene. With concerted precision they were discussing when would be the perfect time for him to light the cigar and when to puff on the cigar. Like Seinfeld, the winning is in the details.
You might have noted a story that I related in an earlier blog. . . . We were doing the music video for PILGRIM with Eric Clapton. The scenes were not at Paramount Studios this time, (By the way, I saw Magic Johnson walking with Mel Gibson, and WOW! I had no idea how BIG Mr. Johnson is! ), but in a small studio somewhere in Burbank. One might suspect that with all the years of this icon strumming a guitar, that Eric would sit back and take a sips of warm lemon water during the down-time. NOPE! Not him. Instead of kicking back, he sat there while I got a serenade from 8 feet away by the ‘Great One’ himself for a half-hour. Playing a guitar is not something that he does- it is who is his.
Chuck Norris’ TOP DOG, was being directed by him in San Diego. The location was in Balboa Park. Now, those of you who know where I mean, what other facility is close by? Lindberg Field.
EVERY 15 minutes a jet plane would scream overhead as they nose-dived to make a landing at the airport. All pilots do not like this very dangerous field because they must skirt building tops to drop onto the tarmac. From one car garage, I swear (if I swore) that you can look up and count the rivets on the belly of the winged behemoth as it passes over your head in its descent to land. Many years ago a PSA flight didn’t make it.
Chuck had to go with the location decision anyway, of course. Delays, nerves, money all were inappropriately an integral part of the production process. The ‘show must go on’ and the movie was made anyway.
So, what is the moral to these anecdotes? The intention of this blog entry is to join Matt Sconce in the celebration of his wonderful experience. He is so fortunate to be able to share it with you, and am sure it is his way he is saying, “Thanks to ALL of you for your support! We all are all going higher, higher and faster. Fasten your seat belts!”
Ford: Why MATT? Because, even though, like Harrison Ford, he may have repeated some mistakes again and again before conquering them, he persisted and never left the scene, set or take without a broad smile on his face and a grateful wave to you- his crew and supporters.
Glover: Sure, there were times when things become strained; the scene took longer than expected, weather issues persisted- ad infinitum. There have been times when it is late and he is simply hungry- but the project must win over comfort. The Craft Service is closed, but not his commitment to making it happen.
Seinfeld/Atherton: If it isn’t ‘right’, I will also surmise that Matt and his crew will not let something slide for the sake of time, effort, or lack of the need for perfection. He would not be where he is today by going second-class anywhere on the journey of film-making. Each movement has a meaning, and every prop must serve its surgical purpose. If he says, “Would it be possible to . . .?”, it is because there is the element of correction that will yield the most effective result.
Frankenheimer: In this business we take chances with ourselves, our craft, and our actors. A sign of a winner is showing that the decision one makes on a minute-by- minute basis is a result of calculating, unswerving dedication and follow-through. We have all needed a tweak and/or a reassuring comment of support to boosts our desire to do our best. Again, I am going to surmise that you actors and crew know that Matt is there to express his confidence in you a minimum of 110%- every step of the way.
Spacey/Character actor: We all know that his passion is a shared partnership with his Father, his wife and family, and with all of you. I am certain that you have taken a moment after a shoot or a casual drink and mentioned to someone nearby how Matt Sconce is a true professional whose talents, until now, have gone unrecognized.
Gere: Richard is at the top. He does not need to parade for vanity or keep to himself in his own self-aggrandizement. When a famous person is friendly to those who admire him and when they don’t have to be, this is the sign of a person worth admiring. This characteristic is recognized by us in Matt.
Clapton: He does not just make films, he is a culmination of a moment-by-moment passion fully engaged in an unending process. One does not reach the top of any game without the ‘game’ being a whole-hearted endeavor where the player persistently focuses on the deepest commitment to one’s passion. Matt is committed and that energy flows down and around to all involved.
Norris: There are times when part of the process gets fouled up, locations are in appropriate and mistakes are made. No matter if the fog rolls in, power fails, or engines roar, OR the ice-maker and air-conditioner are manned by pesky gremlins- it’s no turning back for Matt.
I look forward to seeing another fleeting moment when Matt walks by, or looks up from the other side of the room of crowded admirers and takes a split moment to connect and greet me with a gleam in his eye. It may not be news the front page in a tabloid, but knowing a good down-to-Earth fellow like Matt Sconce and his supporting family, along and his ‘Fresno Film Family’ is a great script to me.
CONGRATS to you MATT SCONSE!
Our seatbelts are firmly fastened . . .