Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Hollywood Memoir: A Young Woman's Intro to Filmmaking in The Golden Age

Thompson on Hollywood By Tova Laiter | Thompson on Hollywood July 3, 2014 at 3:13PM

It was 1973 when I arrived in Hollywood with all the usual hopes, dreams, and expectations...A few weeks later, I was sent to the production offices of "The Godfather: Part II," which filmed on the Paramount lot for a month before moving on to the Dominican Republic for the Cuba sequences.
4
The Godfather: Part II
'The Godfather: Part II'
Tova Laiter
Tova Laiter

It was 1973 when I arrived in Hollywood with all the usual hopes, dreams, and expectations.


I was producing TV commercials and taking Film Production classes at NYU Extension at night. I just assumed that I would come to LA and jump directly into producing feature films at the studios.

As soon as I arrived, though, it became clear that women did NOT produce films nor did they hold any executive positions in the business. Secretaries, Script Supervisors, Associate Producers, low to mid-range talent or literary agents, yes, but as the French say, c'est tout!

What was a young girl to do? I applied to the secretarial pool at Paramount studios even though I had not the slightest clue how to type. And shockingly enough, a few weeks later, I was sent to the production offices of "The Godfather: Part II," which filmed on the Melrose lot for a month before moving on to the Dominican Republic for the Cuba sequences.

I did somehow get the gig. But soon it became apparent that I was useless as a typist but reasonably skilled for phone and people duties. And so I became a ‘"liaison" (okay, runner) between the production office and set.

What a tough job! Get up in the morning, go to a real studio lot, check into the bustling production office, go to the set and interact with the likes of Francis Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall. And on a lucky day, witness Pacino transform from a young, bouncy, floppy-hat wearing New Yorker to Michael Corleone-- once he put on his costume and make-up. Beguiling.

I noticed how calm Francis was in the midst of the chaos of a big set prepping for a shot and somehow, in between, still being able to interact with his three female employees named Mona (yes!). I recall the early Friday evening when Pacino, tired after a grueling day of takes and re-takes in the stuffy Senate-hearing set, walked outside the stage door and exclaimed: "I can no longer function without liquor"(a declaration I've since adapted verbatim for similar circumstances).

I realized for the first time the price of artistry--the hard work behind the glamour.

But my favorite moments were reserved for when Pacino and De Niro sat around between takes amusing themselves and us with improvisational conversations in jibberish, fake Italian.

Oh the fun...

This article is related to: Studios, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Roman Polanski, Hollywood, Women in Film


E-Mail Updates