With the click of a PayPal button, I have added a new and major title to my resume: Big Time Movie Producer. Well, small time movie producer, but it still counts.
For most moviegoers the position of producer is a fuzzy one. What does a producer produce, anyway? How many does it take to build an executive producer? What about the co-producer? Is that the littlest producer, or the one that always rides shotgun?
The quick answer used to be that a director makes a movie happen, but a producer makes a movie possible. The producer initiates the project, hires and coordinates the key staff, raises the cash, arranges for distributors, sucks up to studios, bails the more interesting stars out of jail, that sort of thing.
Now there’s an even quicker answer: the producer is the person who sends in a dollar. Welcome to “The 1 Second Film.”
It started life as a student project to make the “biggest, shortest film” ever made. One second of screen time consisting of 24 frames showing an animation created by two shots each of 12 huge paintings, which were themselves created in a massive one-day effort by hundreds of students, faculty, and passers-by at the California Institute of the Arts. There will be a premiere, after which the paintings will be auctioned off to benefit the Global Fund for Women. Using as many people as possible to create a perfect moment, the project celebrates the process in which it is… you know what? I don’t really care.
It’s artistic and probably makes a statement about something, but two other things attracted me to this project. First, I’m always impressed when that many people spend that much time and energy on something that odd. Will it have a musical score? (Yes, actually.) Hopefully there will be some sign that it’s about to start, so you don’t blink and waste your ticket. No word yet on a DVD release, or whether or not there will be a three-second director’s cut with deleted scenes, subtitles, and commentary.
The second and most important thing is that they’re raising production costs by offering screen credits to everyone who donates. $1 makes you an associate producer. $10 or more gets you producer credit. And $100 puts you in the heady world of executive producing.
Think about it. One buck to become eligible for a listing in the Internet Movie Database, and that’s way easier than actually producing anything. Plus you’ll be working, so to speak, with lots of celebrities who have also taken the economy route to padding their resume after being confronted by the film’s creators during parties and on the streets of Hollywood. Woody Harrelson put in a dollar. So did Steve Buscemi. Christina Ricci was good for $5.50. Charlie Kaufman, Pierce Brosnan, and Bill Pullman splurged and went for the $10 listing, just under Stephen Colbert ($11) and Spike Jonze ($12). Seth Green tossed in $41, while Andy Dick and Tom Green have both broken the $200 mark in a furious bidding war to get top billing over each other. Your involvement could put you on the same imdb.com page as these stars and many more, although it will be, admittedly, a really, really long page.
With over 5,100 producers so far, look for “The 1 Second Film” to be followed with an estimated 90 minutes of credits. They’ll run alongside a documentary about the film’s odd and star-studded creation, to help keep you from going blind. Don’t miss my name!
My producer credit now enables me to hold my head up high in the industry. I’ve already begun building my entourage — currently my wife and dogs — and I’ve given serious thought to which ludicrous and expensive idiosyncrasy I can confess to during my inevitable E! True Hollywood Story (I’m thinking about becoming tragically addicted to medicated shoe inserts).
Now I can call up Christina and chat about our project, after our usual friendly banter about who the hell I am and how I got this number. I can swing by the hottest insider parties and flash my IMDb page printout at the bouncer. “Back off, buddy,” I’ll say. “I’m a producer!” I still won’t get in, but it’ll impress the other people that get turned away.
Best of all, I am now one degree away from Kevin Bacon ($10).
But don’t worry, I won’t be changed by my new-bought fame. I’ll still be the same modest person I was before, albeit a much more important and beautiful one, and I’ll never forget my humble, non-industry beginnings. I’ll be sure to thank everyone when “The 1 Second Film” wins an Oscar and we all flood onto the stage — and steps, and hallways, and into the parking lot — to accept. I couldn’t have done it without you. And this is only the first step in my new career.
What I really want to do is direct. How much is that?