an introduction with a gripe about sharecropping filmmakers

Mar 13, 2008 by

Jonathan Demme with New Orleanian

Update March 17th
So, I’m waiting for Entergy (with Smokey Johnson) to come turn my gas back on after a leak down the street – and who shows up to document us villagers? None other than Jonathan Demme and his crew. To be fair, they were running on a wing and a prayer, using fairly low tech gear.

I had a talk with Mr. Demme. He was pleasant and seemed mighty interested in New Orleans, so I will cast off my initial barbs (while leaving them for posterity, of course). I did explain to his crew that most of us in New Orleans are kind of fed up with the flurry of people coming here to capture a story on Post-K life. They got it.

————————————————barbs below.

Hello, fellow Humid citizens, this will be a quick post as if off to one of many jobs. My name is George Ingmire. I live in the 9th ward, the Musicians Village, in between sleep and overworked – like most of us.

I am here to pitch a female dog (not like the Marine, of course) about a call I got this week from Jonathan Demme’s office –

“Hi my name is Harper (?), I’m calling from Jonathan Demme’s office. We are checking on your possible availability as a sound recordist for this Sunday, March 16th. It’s pro bono, but it’s going to be really great and we’ll cover travel expenses…. the story is about recovery after Katrina, blah blah blah”

Well. Let’s see. You are coming from NY to do a film about us. Poor us, for the world to see. How thoughtful, all the while utilizing local workers for free. Recovery on the backs of one of her inhabitants. Now I understand the need for low/no budget indie filmmakers to do things on the cheap. I’ve been very happy to work on my friend Aaron Walker’s film for ages for free, he returns the favor as a cameraman. But what’s up with Demme’s people? I don’t even want to lay the blame at his feet. But whoever it is, up there in the “well to do” climes of NY, should rethink finding cheap southern labor.  We aren’t going to rollover whenever a filmmaker who has work on IFC shows up with some gas money and a couple of bologna sandwiches.

Has anyone else in this community been handled in a similar fashion? Just curious.

Until then.


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