It’s mash-up Monday here at Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but the past four weeks have been the highest weeks of views I’ve ever had on this blog. And most of the posts in the past four weeks have been insights from producer/writer/director Garry Marshall. So I’ll continue that trend for a few more days so we can have —A Month of Marshall. Something I’ve never done for any single person since starting this blog almost five years ago. (Though part of the spike in views is also due to the popularity of the post Screenwriting the Pixar Way-Part 2.)
Today we’ll look at Gary Marshall the actor and make some odd connections. Hence, the mash-up.
On Friday, my former intern Josh McCabe & I spoke at the Fast Forward Conference at the University of Northern Iowa. Our talk was called “Going from Student to Working Professional” and they actually didn’t have room in their large studio for all the students who wanted to attend. Back on January 31, 2011 I wrote a post called How to Get Started Working in Production, and talked about Josh’s working for me before moving to LA.
Since then he’s worked for a variety of clients and brands including TBWA/Chiat/Day, Smashbox, Discovery, Gatorade, Lexus, and Estee Lauder. He’s keeping busy mostly editing these days. In the odd connection category he told me that he actually was in a film with Garry Marshall. The short film was produced and directed by Melissa Joan Hart. You can watch the film Mute on this link.
So forget that six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. I’m only one degree from Garry Marshall. And I even have much older friendship with writer/actress Clare Sera who had roles in both The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2 which Garry Marshall directed.
Back in the 80s Garry also had an office on Riverside Drive in Burbank. Back in the 80s I lived on Riverside Drive in Burbank. If I recall correctly my apartment was at 1200 Riverside Dr. at a place called the Equestrian Inn. It’s a swankier place now, but back when I was in college it was very un-L.A. in that there were horse stables next to the apartment’s parking lot and I frequently woke up to the distinct sound of the mating call of a peacock. (And the peacock had nothing to do with the nearby NBC studios where Johnny Carson taped The Tonight Show.)
I met the woman who would become my wife at those apartments. We still laugh about that peacock noise. And I can do a pretty good imitation on request. No, it’s not what attracted her to me. But that peacock sound is an objective correlative in our relationship. We met in an elevator in Burbank—can you get any more romantic than that?
We’ll get back to more Garry Marshall’s insights tomorrow, but allow me to reminisce a bit. Over the weekend I went to see Argo and loved the film, which also takes places in the 80s and takes places partly in Burbank—in fact, just off Riverside Dr. at The Burbank Studios. (But as far as I know, neither Garry Marshall—nor Johnny Carson— had anything to do with Argo.) We’ll talk more about Ben Affleck’s five-year journey to bring Chris Terrio’s script to movie theaters next week.
Next week we’ll also talk about filming in Turkey. The last two films I’ve seen (Argo & Taken 2) both were partly filmed in Istanbul, Turkey. My wife—the one I met in the elevator in Burbank—was actually in Istanbul, Turkey last week and brought me some literature from the area about how they are actively seeking to make more movies in Turkey. Next month is the release of the new James Bond film Skyfall which was shot in Istanbul.
I’d say Istanbul has recently done a super job of attracting some major films. It doesn’t take much from a place to go from an unlikely place to make a film, to a highly popular place to make a film. (And a shout-out to Orkide Unsur, a filmmaker in Istanbul who reads this blog.)
No news if Garry Marshall has any plans to shoot a film in Istanbul. And as far as I know he’s never acted in a James Bond film. But how about this for a wrap-up…the first James Bond film was Dr. No released in 1962, Garry Marshall’s first IMDB credit as an actor was in The Phoney America—released in 1961. I think that’s why these posts about Garry are so popular. He’s a producer, director, writer, actor who has had not only his share of hit films (Pretty Woman) and TV shows (Happy Days)—but he’s able to drawn on insights from doing this for six decades.
Update 10/23: Marshall plays an uncredited hoodlum in Goldfinger. So there is a connection Marshall and Bond afterall.
P.S. How successful was Garry Marshall’s TV career at its peak? Well back in 1979—when the Iranian hostage crisis (depicted in Argo) started—according to The Museum of Broadcast Communications, “four of the five highest-rated shows of the year were Marshall’s.”
P.P.S. That speaking gig Friday was a blast, and while not something I’ve actively pursued, I enjoy those opportunities. If any colleges or groups would like to bring me in to speak—with or without Josh—shoot me an email at email@example.com.