Filed in: Community

Crews that always work together

August 1, 2004 12:00 | By

By Eric Green
Many people in the film industry refer to their crew as a family. Seldom will you find one as tightly knit as Clint Eastwood and his crew. Some in his inner circle have been working together for over 30 years.
In an industry stricken with unemployment and outsourcing, the loyalty and togetherness of Eastwood’s team is an inspiration to many. Among the principal members: Robert Lorenz, who was second assistant director on The Bridges of Madison County, first assistant director on Absolute Power, then executive producer on Blood Work; Michael Sexton, who has also worked on several films with Eastwood as property master, a job his father had in the ’70s, also working with Eastwood; Deborah Hopper, who has been working with Eastwood since Tightrope in the wardrobe department and as costume designer for his last three films; Tom Stern, cinematographer; Joel Cox, editor; Henry Bumstead, production designer; Jack G. Taylor Jr., art director; and Richard C. Goodard, set decorator.
“Clint keeps the set quiet, organized and friendly. But it’s not a hang-out and the crew are not micromanaged,” says Sexton. The director “lets everyone do their jobs the way they’re supposed to be done. There is zero tolerance for people who don’t know what they’re doing.”
On first working with Eastwood, Lorenz immediately sensed that there was something different about his shoots. The director sets the tone by being very low key and informal, treating every employee the same, whether a highly paid actor or a guy picking up trash. But with such a close-knit and familiar crew he felt isolated almost to the point where he didn’t fit in. He was proven wrong and was called back for the next film and subsequent projects. Since then there has been a sense of assumed employment from project to project, and Lorenz has been incorporated into the core group.
When starting Blood Work, Eastwood quietly, in a matter-of-fact tone, told Lorenz that he would also be executive producing. Since then Lorenz has gone on to produce Mystic River (for which he was nominated for an Oscar) and the upcoming Million Dollar Baby, starring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank. When consulting Eastwood on who to bring back for the new project, Lorenz jokingly handed him a picture of the crew from the last film and told him to black out anyone he didn’t want back. Eastwood didn’t mark up the photo at all.
While there’s no guarantee of coming back film-to-film, it always just seems to happen. It’s a work environment that Hopper calls “the best job in Hollywood.” She is already prepping for a new project with enthusiasm, knowing she’ll have the freedom to do the job she knows so well.