Teaser 019: How Serena Became a Movie Producer


“Production meeting means it's the producers?”

John, Will, Ken and Drake all replied together, “Yes.”

“Who are the producers in attendance?”

“You wanna chair, Gregory? You seem pretty damn good at it.”

“Any objection?” I asked the room. I heard a number of no's, so I proceeded. “Who are the producers in attendance, John?”

“I serve as executive producer, and the others are Will, Ken and Drake.”

“What about Serena?”

“I'm not interested in serving as a producer. It's a very time consuming position in a movie, Gregory.”

“Would it be wrong for me to assume the producers, at least the core group of producers, end up as the owners of the movie once it's done?”

More or less, yes.”

I looked at Serena inquisitively. “You don't want to own a share of this movie essentially forever?”

“Well, we discussed some of it earlier.”

“Meaning yesterday, while you were waiting for me?”

“You were going to be late. I would hope it's not how you typically operate.” She finished with a smile.

“This may be a good thing, though...John, isn't a producer responsible for some portion of a movie production, who oversees this portion so it meets its obligations to ensure the completion and success of the entire production?”

“That's mostly what a producer does, yes...and you've never worked on a movie before?”

“No. Those portions can vary, too, depending on the unique requirements of any particular production, right?”

“They can, yes, and they have. In my producing experience, Gregory, I've been responsible for many parts of a movie production, those parts have varied, some small and some quite large. It does vary. It always varies.”

Drake added, “It also depends on the size and scope of the production.”

“Well, let me throw this out there. It seems to me this movie does have a unique requirement. There are going to be a large number of Hispanic actors performing both large and small and even extra roles and I'm guessing the vast majority of them come from a home where they were taught Spanish first. Some may not speak English at all, maybe the extras. There's only one person here who meets the same criteria, but if she's not on the production team, doesn't it seem the team, and the production, are creating an obstacle with this portion of the production which seems to me totally unnecessary?”

“What do you propose, Gregory?” John asked, amused at how this was moving. Maybe they had already discussed this before and maybe they hadn't seen it in this light?

“Bring Serena onto the team and her responsibility is only to oversee all the Hispanic actors, to perform as a liaison between the team and those actors. She can have as many assistants as she thinks she needs and the actors themselves would feel more comfortable knowing their direct representative from the production is a person who speaks Spanish fluently and when it's Serena, it's a bigger bonus. Don't you think you would get the performance you need from an actor who is comfortable versus one who isn't? And, personally, in my experience, there is always an underlying and often unspoken tension between the Anglo and Hispanic worlds. The production team as it's currently composed is an Anglo world. If you have the reasonable means to defuse possible tension, wouldn't you be wise to use it?”

Will sat up straight. “That is a great idea, John! I think Gregory is absolutely right, and if it's Serena who acts as the team's rep for the Hispanic actors, it's going to make a huge difference.”

John turned to Serena. “What do you think, Serena? Will you do it?”

Serena glanced to John initially but turned to look right to me. “I suppose if I raised an objection, you'd have a response to overcome my objection, wouldn't you?”

“That's an old sales technique but I suck as a salesperson. I'll tell you what I think will happen. Your reluctance, as you said, is producing will be time consuming, but I don't anticipate being responsible for the Hispanic actors will be demanding of your time. You will have most of your plate full with acting in a major role, but I see you wearing both hats on the set, discussing with the director and the other actors how to proceed with this scene, on and on. You'll be doing both at the same time and they'll be working every day with the producer who brought them here. In their minds you are the production team.”

Serena smiled warmly. “And you would be disappointed if I refused, wouldn't you?”

“Well, sure,” I replied, returning her warm smile with one of my own, “but I wouldn't take it personally. In business, it's not personal. It's just business. My business person's ego would be shattered after all this time and thought went into my argument and you end up shooting me down anyway. Yeah, it would hurt my business person's ego, but I wouldn't take it personally. I won't get up and throw some of your expensive items in this room in a temper tantrum. Besides, I'm only trying to help the team, which is all male, all Anglo. If they can get you on the team, they gain two diversity points in one move. Not only do they get a Hispanic, they get a woman too. I'm simply performing an admirable role for the EEOC. Two diversity points in one. That's thinking.” I tapped my noggin.

“You are a complete lunatic, you know that, Gregory?”

“I practice, Serena. You can't get good at anything if you don't practice.”

Serena turned to John. “All right, John, I'll do it.” She turned back to me and patted my right shoulder. “There. Are you happy?”

“My business person's ego is now soaring.”

“Okay, then,” John chirped. “Serena's in.”

“Do it the right way, John,” I advised. “One of the producers makes a motion, another seconds, and then all vote.”

“Why don't you do it, Gregory?”

“I can't, John. I'm not on the production team.”

“I'll make the motion,” Ken offered. “I move we bring Serena onto the team as the producer responsible for the Hispanic actors.”

“I second,” Will said.

John grabbed it from there. “Okay, there's the motion. All those in favor?” All four said, “Yes.” John added, “All those opposed?” Silence. “Motion passes. That how it's done, Gregory?”

“Perfect.”

“Welcome to the team, Serena,” John said, smiling in her direction.


- Just Desserts, Segment TwoDog Grooming” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com