Although this rule is Unwritten, it was verbally told to me by Buzz Feitshans, my line producer on Conan the Barbarian and First Blood. No one is ever supposed to tell you this stuff — you’re just expected to know it.
Rule #3: Never say anything bad about anyone in the business.
This is still a hard one for me. I have met some real scum masquerading as human life while making movies. My natural tendency is to think people should be warned.
But because it’s rare that anyone in The Biz will tell you any of these rules, I took Buzz at his word and (for the most part) have adhered to that policy.
I’m glad I did.
There have been people I have wished dead (or at least maimed) who, to my amazement, have recommended me for some of my best film jobs. Whatever our differences — and they were often huge if not downright vicious — they were able to look beyond what was going on personally between us and see that, nevertheless, I worked hard and fast and was excellent at what I did. And, hence, recommendable.
Buzz knew that you never know where your next great gig is coming from. It might just be from someone you hate.
That rule is a little looser when it comes to actors. Producers will not hesitate to tell you what a pain in the ass it is to work with certain actors and actresses. Most people in The Biz tend to keep that information to themselves, however. A variation of this rule is “Don’t Tell Tales Out of Class”. In other words, what happens on The Set stays on The Set — it should never go public or even be told to other people in The Biz (although it’s rare to find someone in The Biz who doesn’t enjoy good dish).
There have been actors, favorites of mine, brilliant at what they do, that I used to wonder as to why they didn’t work more often — until I began to work with some of them.
I found out that a different line producer I was working with had just made a picture with an actress considered unbelievably sexy — a real hotty. For the purposes of this story, I’ll call her “Mamie Smith”. This producer was a notorious Lothario — he hit on anything and everything in a skirt, especially young gals like Ms. Smith — so I was curious to learn his take on Mamie.
I was so shocked and surprised by his answer that it instantly burned itself into my brain, word for word:
“Not for all the penicillin in the world would I fuck Mamie Smith.”
There are always exceptions to the rules.
By the way, whenever Buzz was asked about people he loathed, he wouldn’t say anything — positive or negative. If they knew Buzz at all, his silence spoke volumes and answered their question.