Superchief: The Life and Legacy of Earl Warren was nominated for an Academy Award. It was edited and co-written by me (Gary). It was directed by Bill Jersey and Judith Leonard. Bill is one of the greats in the annals of documentary film and I am proud to call him a mentor of mine. I first came to his attention because of the editing work I’d done on Dear America which impressed him and he came up to me after a screening and suggested he might have editing work for me.
His exact words were, “Send me a doo-dah.”
“A doo-dah, you know, resume or whatever …”
Cleverly, he didn’t hire me himself. He was mentoring/supporting another wonderful film maker by providing her with office space and a Steenbeck film editing machine and she needed a new pair of hands on the machine. By having her hire me, Bill got to watch me in action for 5 months on someone else’s film and learn if he liked me without paying a nickel. Smart guy!
Superchief began because Judith was a lawyer who wanted to be a film maker and came to Bill with the idea and the willingness to raise money for it. In time, I met Judy and joined their team and off we went – making a very worthwhile film about a very worthwhile man.
It was Judith’s first film. When we got the news of the Oscar Nom I told her, “Don’t get used to this. It isn’ always this easy.”
Post script note:
They hired a good friend of mine who is a wonderful composer to do the music, Mark Adler. I had edited the scene you see here using a temporary piece of music from another film, a very rhythmic music cue, more a pulsing beat than an actual melody. For a couple key jump cuts in the picture, i deliberatly chose to break the rhythm of the music by doing audio jump cuts, totally out of beat, to accentuate the visual dissonance. Mark couldn’t abide it and despite my pleadings, his score for this scened was in tempo and in time: a fine piece of music but it always felt wrong to me, a dramatic moment with a missed opportunity. Well, I get the last word here. The clip uses the temp music. Sorry Mark!
Post post script note:
Unfortunately, with temp music comes the temp narrator, who was (ahem) … me, so that is why you hear the younger Gary Weimberg as narrator on this clip. The narrator for the finished piece? Oh, just some guy by the name of Gregory Peck, so what you gain in music you lose in voice.
Film making … always a compromise.
Post post post script note:
And as for Judith Leonard, we did get on well, so much so that we partnered up (professionally!) and we made her next 3 films together. I approached her with my idea for a documentary about the mother-daughter relationship and she went crazy for it. She, Cathy and I became equal partners in a new company, Original Cinema; and off we went to sell The Story of Mothers and Daughters to ABC … and the world.