Meg Messmer is an up and coming producer having worked in film, television and on the web.
She began her career working with Dancing Pictures' documentary “Jewel”, and promoted it for its Award of Merit in the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood.
Working recently with Mandeville Films, she learned from Founder David Hoberman, recently producing two-time Academy Award winner, “The Fighter,” and the upcoming, “Muppets.”
She has also been working with Gambit Films on the Paramount Lot, who is producing three upcoming indie features, which she saw through to production, as well as nurturing a new post-production company Zero Gravity Media from the ground up.
She is founder of the production company, Mesmerize Films. She was executive producer on “Pigeon Hunter,” which she also co-wrote, the upcoming “Dominic and Maria” which recently sold to Animal Planet for a July release and has numerous projects in development.
Follow her @MeganMessmer and find her on Facebook.
What is the current project you are working on?
I am producing and directing a documentary called, "Dominic and Maria: A Man and His Goose" It's the story about the unlikely relationship between a man and his goose; A love story!
Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
When I was in 5th grade I won the "When I grow up" contest. I wanted to be an animator, but, I kinda stink at drawing.
What inspired you to become filmmaker?
I've always been good at telling stories. I'm a visual learner...so I kinda fell into it. The fact that there are cheaper cameras available that still yield beautiful results just upped the ante. I would've never been able to do this film four years ago.
What is the best thing about being one?
Going on the Price is Right and telling Drew Carey that I'm a "documentary filmmaker." When it came out of my mouth, I thought..."Holy crap....I AM."
What is the worst thing about being one?
Ugh. Watching movies and catching ALL the mistakes! These days, it takes a REALLY good movie to get me to sit through 2 hours without daydreaming about when is the last time my dog went outside and if I turned the oven off.
What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?
I'm constantly working on projects. Whether it's my production company's or the other three I run with, we're always in development, reading scripts, figuring out how to fix an edit. Plus, I'm a comedy actress, so if you count all those sets, we're talking 200+
Who is is your favorite filmmaker?
This is always a tricky question. Do I say someone obscure to sound smart? Or the "Pop" filmmakers like James Cameron, etc.?
I really like Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore. Both of them are super cool guys that go balls out on their projects. I love that!
I like Rebecca Miller, Debra Granik, Terrence Mallick. All of them write these amazing stories that are truthful to life, they have their own gritty style, and they ask the audience to challenge themselves. Those are my favorite kinds of films.
How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?
I feel like I have more control over my life. Instead of watching a movie and rolling my eyes when the zombie gets up the 3rd time after the hero kills him (called it!), I can make something different, unpredictable, and hopefully interesting.
It's also super stressful, especially with a documentary, because the story is never over. Everything that happens to my subject could be the "perfect" story piece. I have to get it! And it has to happen now! There's no re-shoots. With this film, Maria got taken to the zoo and they clipped her wings. All of our previous footage is gold now! We can't go back to re-shoot them flying together.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?
Just start! You learn by making stuff. I never went to film school, but I worked as a PA, AD, AC, Actor, Director. I think you only learn by doing. While I was moving around the furniture in my house, my roommate said what my famous quote will be, "Let's not talk about it, let's just do it." But, somebody probably already said that.
What do you like to do besides filmmaking?
Filmmaking is Life.
No, just kidding, sort of. My husband and I record music. I perform in an improv comedy group at IO Theatre in Hollywood. We like to go cliff-jumping. I take pictures. I love taking camping trips and getting out of LA.
Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?
I worked at my parents chocolate and ice cream shop. I ate a LOT of free ice cream.
What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?
Films....Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Waking Life, The Machinist, Monsters Inc, Love Actually, White Christmas, FernGully, Good Will Hunting. I'm even giving you the embarrassing ones.
Foreign Films....In America.
TV...I haven't owned one for 9 years. But I like watching episodes online. I'll watch everything once just to know what's in the market.
How would you describe your film education?
On the job.
How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?
I live in LA. It IS the film scene. :)
How has social media changed the independent film industry?
It's caused the industry to stand on their tip-toes. Everyone's in sprint mode just waiting for what's "next" and then they'll take off. But there's not just one answer anymore.
Mostly, it's helped the lowly filmmaker, like me, actually have a chance to be heard in the world. That's how you got my information, from my Indie Go Go campaign.
What's your opinion on crowdfunding and recent crowdfunding scandals?
I know nothing about any scandals. Whoops. I guess I'll do some research.
How does independent film differ from the mainstream?
Indie film is always a passion project, somebody's vision. Sometimes, mainstream scripts get hacked apart by everybody involved: producers, directors, writers, actors, studio heads. They're all worried about something different. It's like 'too many cooks in the kitchen' syndrome. Eventually, it's not the writer's story anymore. And a lot of time, the film suffers because of it.
You could go back in time and see any classic film being made. Which film would it be and why?
Ben Hur. From what I remember reading, they filmed that crazy huge production, blocking off streets in Hollywood, with 300 sets scattered over 340 acres. It was a gamble for MGM who was going bankrupt. I definitely would've loved to be there for that.
What's your favorite movie quote and why?
"Get your ugly yellow no good keister off my property before I pump your guts full of lead." Home Alone
Why? Because everybody knows it.
You could have any super power. What would it be?
To FLY. Are you kidding? Sign me up. I already attempt it with skydiving and cliff jumping.
What is your opinion on movie remakes?
I was really offended when they remade the Karate Kid. Nobody replaces Ralph Macchio. Or Mr. Miyagi.
What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?
The book is always better.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for asking me to interview. I'm flattered. And thanks to all the folks who read through this!
More fun times, http://twitter.com/#!/meganmessmer, www.facebook.com/meganmessmerfanpage
Or to follow my film,www.facebook.com/dominicandmaria
Thanks for doing this interview Meg. I'll definitely will be checking out your film's Facebook page.