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Our Interview With Assistant Director And Producer Sheri Davani From Super, Salvage Boulevard And Beware The Gonzo

by
March 15, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, we had the tremendous honor of speaking with Sheri Davani (Sheri_The_AD). 

She was a great person to talk with.  For anyone that is interested in pursuing a career in the area of film production, we believe she is a great model.  Thank you to Sheri for your time, and we look forward to talking with you in the future.

To learn more about Sheri or to follow her career you can find her on twitter at http://twitter.com/Sheri_The_AD

Before the Trailer: Can you share a little information about yourself as far as your education and what got you into film production?

Sheri Davani: I graduated from George Mason University in Virginia with a degree in Communications and Business, so actually nothing to do with film, I didn't go to film school or anything like that. I decided to at least pursue my passion for film, at least try it. So I moved to New York and interned on an independent feature. In which case the AD on that movie was like, your an AD there is no question about it. That is your career path. So I was like ‘Ok, whatever that means.’ So she took me under her wing and trained me how to AD. It took to my personality perfectly. It's one of those things everyday on set and I think to myself how did find a job that embodies everything about like my personality in one perfect thing and I did. It just kind of went from there. I did a lot of low budget movies for next to no money or no money and so acquired enough of a resume to do bigger movies and work with great directors and projects.

BTT: What does your work involve as an assistant director?

SD: It involves scheduling obviously – the main focus, but it is managing the creative at the end of the day. But if you let creative run wild they will never get anything done. So I have to kind of rein everything in, make and it practical. actually execute everything they want to do in time in money allowed. I'll get a script, I'll break it down, I'll schedule it and I'll work with the director prioritizing, like what they need more time on, what they are willing to sacrifice and how we can actually make things work within the schedule. And on the day I keep us on point, I keep the director on point. I keep everyone in line, communicate, make sure everyone knows what is going on at all times and make it as efficient as possible.

BTT: Are you working on a project right now?

SD: I am gearing up for a kind of project with a director, Lee Krieger, that I did “The Vicious Kind” with a few years ago. He is getting ready to do his next feature. So we’re in the very early stages of script breakdown and scheduling.

BTT: Can you tell us about the project?

SD: Not right now yet I can’t. All I can say is it's a great project. He is a great director if you haven't seen “The Vicious Kind,” he is one of the next great young directors to come out of LA.

BTT: What it is your typical day like as an assistant director?

SD: When I’m on set? Well a typical day on set starts, depending on where we’re at with getting a call. I sit down with the D.P and director, and we go through the location and the day and the shots and make sure were all on the same page as far as our game plan. Even though we probably have gone over it a hundred times before it’s like another refresher for how we are going to make this day happen.  I communicate to everyone what our first shots are. We’ll bring in the actors to block and rehearse and then from there on, just managing the day, making sure were on schedule and on point, running the set, communicating, being stern and mean when I have to.

BTT: (Laughs)

 SD: Whatever I need to do to get the day done, essentially. http://www.beforethetrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Super.jpeg

BTT: You have worked on many independent films, that have been high profile such “Salvation Boulevard,” “Super” and “Beware The Gonzo.” Do you have any memorable experiences from any of the movies that you worked on?

SD: They are all memorable to me because you named three of my favorites. I love working with those directors. And a big reason was that, especially James Gunn and George Ratliff, are just superbly prepared directors. We spent so much time in prep going over every storyboard and every shot list and we spoke and thought in the same mind. So when we were on set we knew exactly what we were going to do and how we were going to do it. And when I saw “Super” in the theater I was amazed how much the movie was exactly like the storyboard. Like James did not differ from that. He shot the movie and edited it exactly the way he did then. And that was such a great thing to see. James is just fun to work with, so is Rainn Wilson. I think that is what was so great about doing comedies and the same with “Salvation.” I prefer comedies because the tone of the set is like lighter and funner and everyone is always kind of like joking around versus the drama. For a specific incident I can't really think of something.

BTT: (Laugh).

SD: On “Super” we did a Twitter war, which is fun. Like we had uh, instead of doing the typical quote on the call sheet we did Tweet of the day. We were all big on Twitter thanks to Ted Hope, James and Rainn. So my 2nd AD would scan all of our Tweets of the day and so who ever had the best tweets would win on call sheet.

BTT: Awesome SD: I think I came in second to Rainn and James as far as the competition.

BTT: Oh really?

SD: (Laughs)

BTT: I know when they were on “Beware The Gonzo,” we were getting a lot of inquiries. People wanted to see the trailer. Do you have any information for when that will be out?

SD: There should be. Actually I can email the executive producer  and find out why it's not up. Or if it is up, and get back to you on that.

BTT: OK.

SD: Because it should be up somewhere or should soon be up. I'll get back to you on that.

BTT: Cool. What do you see for your future? What direction do you see your career going in?

SD: I really love AD. Like I'm not going to lie, say I really want to direct or do something else. Like I love my job, like I feel like I get to make different types of movies, and help tell stories, and work with great directors. And I’m in the middle of it. It's the only job that knows everything that is going on the whole time. I wouldn’t want to trade that in.  My ideal goal is to keep work with directors I enjoy like James Gunn, George Ratliff, Lee Krieger, Brian [Goluboff] from “Gonzo.” That would be my ideal scenario is to keep working with these great collaborators. On the side I have been producing smaller features that I believe in and I would love to continue to do that. I am in talks to producing here in New York were on the same budget that I did ‘Obselidia’ for, which is now nominated for the John Cassavetes Award, for under a half a million dollar feature. Those I do for fun and passion but career wise, for doing bigger movies would be the ideal scenario.

Description: http://www.beforethetrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Obselidia.1.jpg

BTT: Do you want to eventually move up to high budget movies, or stay with the smaller independent movies with a personal feel?

SD: You know I think if there is a way of finding a balance, I think there are bigger budget indies that can pay that bills that still allow – that truly have a free-filmed feel to it where you aren't working by studio. It's not like test markets and all of that stuff. You know – I don't know. I don't know if I can always afford to live on the indie paycheck.

BTT: (Laughs)

SD: I hope that I can find a way to balance it.  And I have been pretty lucky. The movies that I have been doing are exactly where I want them to be. They are still union. They are still. I'm not doing the under a million dollars features anymore.

BTT: Right.

SD: That is ok. But if James Gunn decides to go studio I'm going with him.

BTT: (Laughs)

SD: I think my career has always taken its own path and  I go out and follow it.

BTT: As far as other directors, producers or cast members is their anyone that you really want to work with that you haven't worked with yet?

SD: Um. Haven't worked with yet? Yeah, of course, their is the dream directors like Wes Anderson that I have always loved to work with. And but in the indie world, I love someone like Todd Collins and who I know did a film with Ted Hope this summer that I unfortunately couldn't do, which was like very sad for me. But um, I love working with Ted, I'd do anything with Ted Hope again. That I haven't worked with yet? I don't know. You never know.  I guess. I can't think of, off the top of my head.

BTT: What kind of advice would you give for anyone that wants to get into film production and that wants to be a producer or  assistant director?

SD: Honestly my first advice is to go out there, PA, intern as many movies as you can. Don't PA as long as a year or two tops. Be willing to work for free as long as the position helps you out. After my first film I second AD'd a feature for free so I could learn how to second AD. Then for my third feature I first AD'd for free and it allowed me to do the job and I would suggest the same thing.  Whether its first in shorts, or micro-low budget features, what ever it is you have to get your feet wet and actually have to do it and not be afraid of failing. You will learn on the job, you are going to make mistakes, everyone will but you have to dive in feet first.



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