Tag Archives: Elizabethtown

Meet The Crew: Ana Maria Quintana – Script Supervisor

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Cameron and Ana Maria on the set of Zoo

We are pleased to introduce you to Ana Maria Quintana, Script Supervisor on Cameron’s last four films (Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown and We Bought A Zoo). She was born and raised in Chile before moving to New York when she was fourteen years old. The family eventually headed west and Ana Maria studied film at L.A. City College. She has worked on more than 50 movies in a career that now spans more than four decades. We chat with Ana Maria in two parts about her duties as Script Supervisor, some of the many directors and films she has worked on and much more.

Tell us what a Script Supervisorʼs main duties are.

First of all and most importantly: to have total knowledge of the script. You are responsible for breaking it down in every department. Props, wardrobe, make-up, hair, set dressing, time of day, time of the year.

We time a script so that we know how long the script is and how long each scene is. This will be helpful throughout the shooting. We keep a tally to compare so that the Director and the Editor can use this to make sure that they are not running too long. If a film is meant to be 2 hours you don’t want to shoot a 4-hour film.

Once we start production, we are involved in all the rehearsals, set-ups and shooting of the film. We keep detailed notes on the shooting day, scene numbers, take numbers, camera information, lenses and filters. We describe each scene and make notes on each take.

All of our notes are given to the Editor to use for his or her assembly, and the Director will later refer to them during his or her cut. The notes will tell them the good takes from the bad, the incomplete from the complete, what each take had that was particularly good or bad, and any other notes that might help distinguish the shooting scene during the editing process.

During filming, we are responsible for all continuity of the scenes being shot. Since most films are shot out of order, it is up to the Script Supervisor to preserve the continuity at all times, in every department and for every aspect of the film. Everything from make-up, props, wardrobe, hair, time of day, and pace from one scene to another, etc. is under the scrutiny of the Script Supervisor. We must have a full understanding of all camera angles, direction, and progression. This is to make sure that camera angles and the action cuts together. We must also make sure that nothing is left out from the script, that all the shots the Director wanted and needed are completed. We cue actors during rehearsals and make all changes on the script. During the shooting, we make sure that the actors match their actions with their words, cigarettes, cups, etc. Any movement with their hands or body must match in all the angles at all times. We also prepare a production report for the Producers that shows the scenes shot, the scenes that need to be shot, the screen time shot everyday, page count and set-up count. Above all, we must always be present for the Director to make sure the script is available to them, and to make any notes that he or she might give you at a moment’s notice.

Be present, be alert, be focused, and be prepared. That is my motto.

On The Set of Blade Runner with Ridley Scott, Rutger Hauer & William Sanderson

You have a long, distinguished career working with such Directors as Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Minority ReportThe Adventures of Tin Tin) and James Cameron (Avatar). Tell me something you took away from working with these particular Directors.

Wow! First of all, I walk into work and walk away saying to myself: WOW WOW WOW!!!! To this day, I still cannot believe that I am standing on the set with these or any other Director. It is a privilege and an honor to have worked with all of the Directors I have during my career.

From Ridley, I learned so much from the very beginning, especially the care and incredible knowledge of design, pace, and creativity that he took to make that film. I did not know we were making Blade Runner, I just knew I was working on a film that was just beautiful to watch everyday. I was surprised and in total awe at the images that were being created… it was wonderful.

Then of course came Steven Spielberg. I started with him on Hook. I had just had my son, so going back to work was different this time around. I needed to work more than ever and I was hired. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought in a million years that I would work on a big production like that one. There I was, on the biggest set in MGM, back when it was stilled called MGM. It was the care that Steven took with every scene that was so marvelous to watch and be a part of. It was very hard work, a lot of detail and Steven had the whole film in his head. I had to somehow get in there. Thank goodness I got to do more films with him and after 18 years, I am just finally beginning to understand about 10%…can you believe that?

Steven is a very intense filmmaker; he works very fast and does not repeat himself. You must be prepared, prepared, prepared at all times for anything and everything, that is how he works. Because of his love and immense professionalism in his films, I have felt at all times that I must try and strive to keep up. I have learned so much about editing and staging of scenes from Steven. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on it, he surprises all of us. A friend of mine long ago said something about John Huston. He said that if you cut Huston’s veins, they would bleed celluloid. I think that of Steven Spielberg.

I did not do the whole film Avatar; I was only hired to do a couple of weeks of the live action part in Los Angeles. I accepted gladly since I wanted to see what this was all about. I was given a great surprise and a wonderful experience. James Cameron is just amazing –  his knowledge, his care for every little part of the frame, his passion. It was great to be able to sit and watch him work. I loved it, especially in this new world of motion capture and 3D. It is a whole new way of making films. It was good for me to come out and learn and to adapt my work to the new wave of filmmaking.

I hope and think that overall, what I have taken from these Directors and all the others that I have worked with is an amazing love, care, passion, professionalism, and love for making films.

How did you meet Cameron and get involved with Almost Famous? Did this happen due to your existing relationship with Steven Spielberg?

Yes it did. The Producer for Almost Famous was Ian Bryce, who also produced Saving Private Ryan. When Cameron was looking for a Script Supervisor, Ian put my name on the list. I went to the interview not really knowing what would happen, but I do remember seeing him for the first time and I just liked him. Cameron is just a warm, sincere, charming and overall great person. We talked for a bit and if I remember correctly, I ended up telling him some very personal things. I think that I had the right rhythm for him. Of course, you know, with Cameron everything has to do with rhythm and images. When it’s right, it’s right. Otherwise it just does not work. I was surprised, since I am Latin and my energy is more like Charo, “cuchi-cuchi!” and all. Cameron is much more refined, but thank goodness it clicked.

Working on Almost Famous saved my life. I was in a rut in my personal life and being part of that film was just the best thing that happened to me. The story, the music, the cast, the crew, everything was full of life, laughter, joy, love and of course music… all brought together by Cameron. Loved every minute of it.

I bet continuity must have been a nightmare on Almost Famous, right?

It was a bit hard but I was prepared for it. As long as I had my breakdown down in my head and my notes ready, I was okay. I had to make sure I was ready to go everyday with the right information. I made sure to read the scenes the night before, went over all the notes from before and after and in between so that I was prepared. The rest of the crew was in the same wavelength so we were all out there being part of this wonderful movie with Cameron.

What was your biggest challenge working on Vanilla Sky?

Ah, now that is another story. That one was hard. Only because I was always wondering on the set, at home, working on the notes in my sleep: “Which one is it??? Is this the dream or is this reality?” “No, this is real.” “No, this is not.” It really was a film that was always working on you from inside, very deep, at least I thought so. But again, what a joy to work with Cameron and his love of words and music. And to work with Tom Cruise again. Those two are wonderful together – their friendship and wanting to make something good was intoxicating.

The challenge for me was to make sure that I was getting Cameron’s notes correctly, and that I could help in any way. Otherwise, it was a different experience marked with hard work, intensity, joy, and lots of music.

Zoo D.P. Rodrigo Prieto with Ana Maria

Was working on We Bought A Zoo as much fun as it looked?

You know, people always think that working on a film is fun, so I have to correct them by saying we are working. It is our job. It is hard work. We have to get up very early and sometimes have to work very late, even through the night. What makes a film fun for me is the project and usually when I think about it after the shooting, but not during. During the shooting I am so consumed with making sure things are right that I don’t really think about fun.

Having said that, what makes working on Cameron’s films great is that he makes you feel that you are a part of the whole project and not just doing a job. He respects and acknowledges everyone’s job on a film set. Cameron’s sets are very different,. You are all part of the process and he is incredibly accessible to everyone at all times. His care for the final product is so personal that you can’t help but be seduced. Everyday that I have worked on one of his films I have enjoyed. Hard or not, I have never once been unhappy about getting up to go to work on his set.

After four films together, tell us about your working relationship with Cameron.

I feel so proud to be able to say I have done four films with him. I am incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to sit by his side. Warren Beatty and John Schlesinger always made me feel very proud of my job and always went out of their way to include me during the filming of their projects. Cameron has been the same for me – so giving, so open, so respectful of my craft. I admire him tremendously. He makes my job just that much more enjoyable.

Tell us something that a Script Supervisor does that people might not be aware of

We observe, we take notes, we report, we are always on, we seldom leave a set,. We sometimes play psychiatrist, mom, sister, confidante, or girlfriend. And we are the only one in our department.

Do you think that directing a feature film is still in your future?

Who knows? They say it’s never too late to start something new…who knows…it is a New Year after all, but I better hurry since the world is coming to an end…!

© 2011 – Vinyl Films/The Uncool. All rights reserved.
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Jan 17, 2012

A Chat With Judy Greer

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Judy Greer in Alexander Payne's The Descendants

Cameron had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Judy Greer for Interview magazine at the time of Elizabethtown‘s release back in late 2005. With her recent Oscar worthy turn in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, we thought it would be a great time to share it with you. She talks about Elizabethtown, Arrested Development, her ideal role and much more. Enjoy!

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Jan 6, 2012

A Non-Saccharin Take on We Bought A Zoo…

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Courtesy of Hollywood Reporter/Jeff Minton

Kim Masters profiles and interviews Cameron for the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter. In addition to talking about We Bought A Zoo in-depth, topics include Elizabethtown, the out of print Fast Times book (again), My Name is Marvin, his five favorite films and much more. Head over there to read it all, but here’s a taste (the track listing of the infamous mix CD that Cameron made for Matt Damon).

  1. Save It for Later … Pete Townshend
  2. I’m Open (Live) … Eddie Vedder
  3. War of Man (Live)  … Neil Young
  4. Soul Boy … The Blue Nile
  5. Mohammed’s Radio … Jackson Browne
  6. Sanganichi … Shugo Tokumaru
  7. Airline to Heaven … Wilco
  8. Buckets of Rain … Bob Dylan
  9. The Heart of the Matter (Live) … Don Henley
  10. I Will Be There When You Die … My Morning Jacket
  11. Ain’t No Sunshine … Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
  12. Child of the Moon … Rolling Stones
  13. If I Am a Stranger … Ryan Adams
  14. Concrete Sky … Beth Orton
  15. Helpless (Live) … Neil Young
  16. Don’t Be Shy (no piano) … Cat Stevens
  17. Nerstrand Woods … Mark Olson And The Creekdippers
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Nov 22, 2011

Cameron Gets Out Of His House

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Photo by Neal Preston/20th Century Fox

The NY Times chats with Cameron about life after Elizabethtown, Tom Cruise and the genesis of We Bought A Zoo. You can read Leah Rozen’s entire article/interview over at the NY Times, but here’s a few choice excerpts:

Mr. Cruise, who had starred in the hugely successful “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and “Vanilla Sky” (2001) for Mr. Crowe, felt that it was time for his friend Mr. Crowe to emerge from behind the yellow legal tablets on which he composes his first drafts in longhand. “I was deep in the writing cave,” Mr. Crowe recalled, “and he said: ‘Hey man, you need to be directing. You’re forgetting the joy, the adrenaline.’ He’s, like, ‘Let’s go for a drive.’ ”

The drive took them to the nearby set in Los Angeles of “Knocked Up,” where the writer and director Judd Apatow was trading punch lines with Seth Rogen and the film crew. Mr. Cruise introduced Mr. Crowe to Mr. Apatow, who joked that he’d been stealing for years from “Say Anything…,” the sharp-witted teen comedy that first established Mr. Crowe as a director in 1989.

“Cruise sidles up to me and goes: ‘See? Get out of your house, man, it’s fun,’ ” Mr. Crowe said. “And that’s when it felt like, yeah, it’s time to direct again.”

Whatever the fate of “Zoo,” will Mr. Crowe wait as long again before making his next film? “Not anymore, baby,” he said exuberantly. He said he hopes to begin shooting in March on a new comedy that he had finished writing two days earlier, even as he was making final tweaks on “Zoo.” And he has another movie he intends to make right after that.

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Nov 7, 2011

Inquire Within: Manic Pixie Dream Girl

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We are back with another edition of Inquire Within… Through your submissions, Cameron will answer your questions in his own words. The goal is to have a new question and answer posting every week or two leading up to the releases of Pearl Jam Twenty and We Bought a Zoo this fall and The Union early next year.

Rodrigo Rothchild (Austin, Tx): How do you feel about Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown being the source of the term ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’? (Greg’s note: this phrase coined by film writer Nathan Rabin, has become part of the pop culture vernacular over the last few years. more details can be found here)

Cameron: I dig it.  I keep thinking I’ll run into Nathan Rabin and we’ll have a great conversation about it.  Every MPDG he’s assigned to me has been based on a real woman, though, so they’re not really “cinematic creations” to me.  Often that persona is a front, and every true man’s job is to dig beneath the surface and really come to know the woman he finds himself in love with.  Still, the coinage is hilarious.  I love it.

Manic Pixie Dunst Girl?! – Claire Colburn

Please send in your questions for Cameron and maybe yours will be part of a future installment of Inquire Within…


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Jun 27, 2011

Paste: 11 Vinyl Albums, 10 Essential Films & More!

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Today we look back at the Paste magazine profile of Cameron and Elizabethtown from September 2005. The cover art was done by none other than Joni Mitchell and the issue included an interview with Cameron, his 11 Albums to Seek Out on Vinyl, 10 Essential Films for Stormy Night and Crowe on Crowe (as he reflects back on his all his major projects from Fast Times to Vanilla Sky). I sure do miss holding the physical Paste magazine in my hands, but at least they are still alive and kicking online.


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Jun 14, 2011

Crowe Looks Back and Ahead..

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NY Post film critic Lou Lumenick catches up briefly with Cameron via email to celebrate the Blu-ray release of Almost Famous – The Bootleg Cut. Cameron also touches on Elizabethtown, Pearl Jam Twenty and We Bought a Zoo. Here’s the choicest quotes:

On Almost Famous, The Bootleg Cut & Support from Fans and DreamWorks

“It’s the one movie I’ve done that I hear about the most,” Crowe tells The Post. “Wherever I am, it seems, somebody comes up and says something about ‘Almost Famous.’ ” “Often it’s a button-down business type who looks like somebody’s accountant uncle, and they take you aside and say wistfully, ‘I followed Deep Purple to 25 cities in the early ’70s. ‘Almost Famous’ is my life,” says Crowe, 53. “And we have a moment talking about music, and vinyl. It’s the reason I made the movie.”

“We had the commercial capital, thanks to DreamWorks, to make the movie with all the love and time to get it pretty right,” Crowe recalls. “Big props to the cast, too, who really felt the movie as we were making it. Kate Hudson dancing on that arena floor will always be one of the favorite things I was very lucky enough to be behind the camera and watch happen. Movies tend to communicate the spirit of the people who made it, maybe that’s why it lasted.”

Crowe calls the 162-minute “Untitled” version, which adds 40 minutes and was previously available on DVD, “the full movie. The theatrical cut of ‘Almost Famous’ was honed through public screenings. On the big screen, I think the cross-country tour was a little exhausting for some people (just like life) . . . but for home viewing, ‘Untitled’ is made for you to put it on pause, grab a beer, and then back on the road to visit the next city. “Also there are some sub-plots in the longer version that I do miss in the theatrical version — for example Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee) has a secret coke problem and other little side-stories that I will always love. Either version is there for whatever mood you’re in, or how long you want to tour with Stillwater.”

On Elizabethtown

“Elizabethtown,” Crowe says, “was a big, open-hearted movie that worked for some people, maybe not for others. But for me it will always be about the final road trip, and the music of My Morning Jacket and Tom Petty and Ryan Adams. Also it was a chance to film in Kentucky and pay a little tribute to my Dad, who grew up there.”

On Pearl Jam Twenty

Crowe calls it “our equal-part tribute to Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Look Back’ and The Who’s ‘The Kids Are Alright.’ When I first moved to Seattle in the mid-’80s, that now-hallowed music scene was starting to come together and I was fortunate to have a front-row seat to the formation and the early shows of Pearl Jam. We gave them jobs on ‘Singles’ to keep the band afloat.”  “They became good friends of mine, and about 10 years ago we started talking about a project that would use all the archival stuff the band had never shown to the public. The time finally came to tell that story. Jeff Ament, the bassist and creative architect of the band in many ways, said to me, ‘I’m expecting to learn things about our little band that I never knew. I hope it’s a little bit like group therapy.’ ”

On We Bought a Zoo

Crowe e-mails that it’s “probably closest to ‘Almost Famous’ or ‘Jerry Maguire’ in the mix of comedy and drama. It’s a fun movie with a smokin’ cast, and I think everybody is bringing something new to it. We’re almost two weeks in, and every day has been a blast. It’s also a little bit of a tribute to the great Bill Forsyth comedy, ‘Local Hero.’ I’m really excited . . . tomorrow Peter Riegert, the star of that movie, is playing a juicy part with Matt Damon. Should be good.”

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Feb 1, 2011

Elizabethtown DVD Coming February 7th

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The Elizabethtown DVD will be released on Tuesday, February 7th, and will include the following extras:

  • Two shorts from www.cameroncrowe.com:
    • Training Wheels – highlights from pre-production
    • Meet the Crew – a closer look behind-the-scenes with the cast and crew
  • Two Extended Scenes
  • Rusty’s Learning To Listen Part 8 – the full-length Rusty video
  • Hanging With Russell In Memphis – Earnestine & Hazel’s Russell George talks music with Drew
  • Photo Gallery by Neal Preston, including behind-the-scenes photos
  • Two Theatrical Trailers
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Jan 3, 2006

Mike Finger’s The Blue and the Black