Run Forrest, Run!
While he may not have the speed of Forrest Gump or taken two feet and a heartbeat across the United States, Jack Boem has run up the ranks in the world of Hollywood.
Starting as an on-set runner in 1988, Boem’s had a successful career as an assistant director for the last 15 years. In that time, he’s worked on major motion pictures with some of the biggest stars to hit the silver screen in the last decade.
Currently, he’s working on a film called Scott Pilgrim vs. The World starring Superbad’s Michael Cera. His body of work also includes the Oscar-nominated film Water, and soon-to-be-released Amelia, starring Hilary Swank, Ewan McGregor and Richard Gere.
With big names like that, managing schedules and coming up with the right strategy to make filming as easy as possible can a challenge. That’s where the assistant director comes in.
“It’s like middle-management,” he says. “It’s my job to break down the script and see what’s required. Once we start shooting, I schedule the day.”
Breaking down the script and seeing what’s required involves a number of factors; the most important being the budget. The budget of the film plays heavily in making decisions about location, scheduling, finding the right actors, extras, music and choreography.
Because of the cost constraints, Boem must analyze the script and come up with the most effective, economical and logical way to complete the filming. If a star can only be available for a limited amount of time, he must come up with a way to film scenes that fits possible time limitations. In addition, the more the stars have to be flown to location, the more it will cost. Because of these fluctuating schedules, Boem finds himself putting in long hours in order to make sure things run smoothly.
When he’s spending that kind of time at the job site, Boem wants to do his best to make sure he’s working on projects he enjoys. When considering which jobs he’d like to take, he looks at the quality of the script, the scheduling — he is not a big fan of night shoots anymore — and any moral issues he may have.
“Shortly after 9/11 I received a script with an angle I wasn’t comfortable with,” he says. “I didn’t agree with the approach the film was taking. It was too soon after the event.”
However, this isn’t too common Boem notes.
“At the end of the day, we’re not saving the world; we’re making movies.”