Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Credit where Credit is Due

There's an old saying that any publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right. So just imagine the kick in the stomach you feel when you see a front page story on a project you poured your soul into and they don't mention your name at all.

You may have already read Dipu's entry on this blog about the Christmas Day front page story on Six Man, Texas and how excited were all were about. After all, it was great publicity for our little documentary and an interesting read. Only problem was, a major contributor was not only left out of the mix, his considerable contributions were attributed to someone else. Unfortunately, that someone else was me.

Some 6 or 7 column inches of type after the story jumped from Page 1 to A14, a paragraph reads:

"He wasn't really sure what it was about," said Tom Chamberlain, an Austin film editor Barber hired in 2005 to help him untangle the images. He recommended that Barber revisit some of the towns and film something other than football game: Who knows what would develop?

That 'graph becomes 100% accurate when you replace "Tom Chamberlain" with "Mike Scannell." I winced when I read it, but felt even worse by the end of the piece, because that was the only mention of any crew other than Alan and coproducer Laura Toups.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not shy about taking credit. It's just I prefer it be legitimate. That 'graph was about Mike not me, and he should have gotten the mention. Two and a half years of slogging through 157+ hours of raw footage and 10 or 12 rough cuts, should earn you that.

Heck, how about an interview at least? Mike wasn't interviewed, perhaps because the writer, Eric Dexheimer, got the impression I was the editor, and called me instead. (He knew I cut the trailer, and must have assumed I cut the movie too.) What's weirder still is, he quoted that quote he used in the piece as attributed to me by Alan. I immediately recognized this as something Alan would have said about Mike and told Eric that I didn't say that, Mike Scannell, the primary editor, did.

Further, I explained that I was brought on later in 2005 to help Alan get that new footage. Yes, I proposed a story line we used as a starting point to direct the editing effort, but by the end of the interview, I was confident that I had made it clear that Mike was Editor in Chief and I was mainly a camera and lighting guy, who merely assisted in post production. I even remember suggesting that Eric interview Mike.

So it was a shock to see that paragraph. I felt for Mike because I know exactly what that's like. A ferw years back, Nueva Onda, a restaurant near S. Congress and Oltorf screened my feature film, In Flagrante, as part of their movie night series. I sent a notice of the screening plus a press kit to the Statesman and the Chronicle. The Statesman ignored it, but to my delight, the Chronicle printed a boxed mention of the screening in the film section with a promo photo from the film.

Then I read the accompanying text and my heart sank. Somehow, despite having a press kit with ample references to me having written and directed it, they attributed those jobs to some other guy, whose name I remember from the Film Threat review he wrote for the film. How ironic that some reviewer, who obviously never made a film in his life, was credited with mine.

For goodness sake, none of us are getting rich off these films people! Could you at least get our names right?

Having just written that, let me be clear that I don't mean to defame Eric with this post. He's a very nice guy, and a very good writer, and the story is more than we could have asked for. It's just that Mike did a fantastic job finding the film in Six Man, Texas and at the expense of an unbelievable amount of time. Simply put, he deserves credit for it.

Tom Chamberlain