Druid Peak Executive Producer says that producing a films is more than lending influence or writing a check.
By Jacob Engels
Below is a wonderful interview that local filmmaker Jason Jack Underwood and I collaborated on. We spoke with Maureen Mayer, the Executive Producer of Druid Peak. She talked about the Executive Producer role, her relationship with the filmmakers, and filming scenes with the lead actor Spencer Treat Clark and real wolves.
Tell us a little bit about your background?
I was a Neonatal ICU RN at the University of Utah and was asked to train for and then join the flight transport team. We( a team of two) had to be prepared to handle anything that could possibly occur while stabilizing and transporting premature infants from outlying hospitals in a seven state area to the University of Utah Medical Center, traveling via helicopter and fixed wing. Think fast and make the right decisions.
My husband and I have raised three sons and Marni, our writer/director, has been like a family member since they were very young. She has traveled with us extensively and one summer in the mid 90’s we attended a talk at the National Museum for Wildlife Art about the wolf reintroduction program in Yellowstone. It was memorable, and Marni must have filed that information away.
What were your roles as Executive Producer on Druid Peak?
Marni asked if she could stay at our home while writing/polishing her Druid Peak script. Of course we said yes. Fast forward to 2011 and she asked me to Executive Produce. I said yes, having no idea what that entailed, but believing in Marni knew I could figure it out. Turns out it involved problem solving which I enjoy and am comfortable doing.
It started with pre production- knowing we had an ultra low budget- location scouting, meeting with the Mayor, Chamber of Commerce, Wyoming Office of Tourism, Wyoming Film Office, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park officials, finding a pilot with a single engine plane, a cattle ranch that would allow filming, advertising for locals to be cast as extras, asking for help from friends that generously donated housing for cast and crew. From there it just became doing whatever it took to keep us on track. Having ties to the community enabled us to secure beautiful horses and the best safety wrangler in Jackson and access to spectacular locations that allowed us to film very challenging scenes.
Before and during production Marni, our producers and (Kodak 2013 Vision Award Winning) cinematographer all moved in with us- and it’s not a large house. It became production central. It was very intense but we all knew it was something special.
I also was responsible for the “care and feeding of talent” which I took seriously and think they were pretty happy with. So many of our cast and crew still text, Instagram, Facebook and when possible get together. Pretty special in this business.
My role has evolved -I am our PR person which includes website, Facebook, Twitter, press and festival submissions and management. We are currently seeking distribution so “like” us on Facebook as Druid Peak Film and find us at www.druidpeakfilm.com and on Twitter @druidpeakfilm
What aspect of the project did you find to be the most rewarding?
Most rewarding-Every aspect has been the most rewarding- truly.Marni is a genius.I think we work well as a team. It’s a beautiful movie.And I have to say being a part of a predominantly female film crew is something we are very proud of, in a male dominated business. Rachel Korine and Lanna Joffrey were just perfect in their roles and absolutely lovely to work with.taking Rachel,Spencer and Damian hiking on their days off was special. Seeing Rachel perfecting her horseback riding skills in the JH rodeo arena was so much fun- she loved it and was a natural.
A still from Druid Peak, featuring Spencer Treat Clark and Spring Breakers star Rachel Korine.
How does you experience Executive Producing a film compare to what a lot of people think executive producers are?
I think people google “Executive Producer” and think they are just lending their name, influence or funding. As an ultra low budget indie my role as Exec is unique because of our particular circumstances. Marni knows she can count on me as we move forward with our festival and distribution strategy- and our next film!
What was your favorite challenge that you overcame while working on Druid Peak?
Wow- favorite challenge- The scenes involving Spencer, Andrew, the horses and the wolves. Those magical wolves( Koda and Yukon especially) of Wasatch Rocky Mountain Wildlife- Thank you Lynne and Doug Seus! Because of the relationships formed between myself and the owners of Wasatch Rocky Mountain Wildlife, Doug and Lynne Seus, I was asked to join the board of their Vital Ground Foundation in the fall of 2011 just as we were wrapping Druid Peak.
This has been extremely rewarding personally and the board dynamic we have is amazing. Vital Ground addresses the issue of habitat fragmentation head-on by permanently protecting crucial lands for the benefit of grizzly bears and other wide-ranging wildlife.
Our headquarters are in Missoula, MT. I screened Druid Peak at our last board meeting and they loved it. www.vitalground.org
Given our budgetary constraints it took our entire Druid Peak team working together and never giving up, being positive and powering through, yet also being aware of and appreciative of the natural beauty that we were a part of. The fabulous weather was a blessing, and the lasting relationships we formed live on. The challenge continues…
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org