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BOSPOAT - Best On Set Photo Of All Time: That's A Wrap

Posted By Chris Green, Friday, February 9, 2018

This is downtown Selma, Alabama, fall of 1967. The production is The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The gentleman on the right is Alan Arkin, who would earn his second Oscar nomination for the performance. The gentleman on the left is Joel Freeman, the film’s executive producer.

We admit that we’re cheating a little with this one. It’s not a particularly distinctive photo, except for the presence of Mr. Freeman, who passed away a few days before this issue went to press, and who supported countless people in the early stages of their entertainment careers, among them, the editor of this magazine. Everyone remembers their first real break in the industry; Joel Freeman was mine.

He was 77 when he hired me for my first and only production job, working for a not-long-for-this-world dot-com production company. His peak years were well behind him, but he was determined to learn some new tricks producing for what people had just started to call the World Wide Web. And so a guy whose movie career included everything from Shaft to Love at First Bite to The Blackboard Jungle to Camelot to Bad Day at Black Rock to Lonely Hunter, wound up hiring a zero-experience grad school deserter to help create a book-review show for the internet. He was the definition of an old pro—great stories, an abundance of heart and zero bullshit.

The company went the way that most dot-coms went in 2000. Fortunately Joel had another passion: The Producers Guild of America. He was a storied PGA member, a longtime Board member and officer, the prime mover and first-ever Chair of the Producers Guild Awards (back then called the Golden Laurel Awards) and the fifth-ever recipient of the PGA’s highest service honor, the Charles FitzSimons Award. When the original editor of Produced By suddenly had to leave the job, just before the publication of our fourth issue, the Guild’s new executive director, Vance Van Petten, asked his Board if any of them knew someone who could write a little. Joel said he might know a guy.

That vote of confidence has made all the difference in my life. I’ve never held another job since Joel recommended me for this one. Remembering him here doesn’t begin to repay the debt I owe him. You can find pictures of Joel posing with everyone from Jack Warner to Isaac Hayes, but I’d like to think that this is how he’d want his peers to remember him, doing what he did best—working on set with supremely talented artists and craftsmen to tell stories that millions of people loved.

Godspeed, pal. See you in the final reel

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