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Working with Frankenheimer

Updated on December 11, 2017
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna worked on many productions as PA, Craft Services, Talent Scout, Grip, and Producer. Credits include Bowling for Columbine, Wallace.

A friend of mine, Kevin, nabbed a gig working with one of the best in the industry -- the late John Frankenheimer (Birdman of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, Wallace, and Ronin).

Frankenheimer came to Northern California to do location work for one of his last films, Path to War, for HBO starring one of the Baldwin boys – Alec.

Donald Sutherland also stars in the cable movie. According to IMDb, The Path of War is based on a true story that takes place in the mid-1960s. President Johnson and his foreign-policy team debate the decision to withdraw from or escalate the war in Vietnam.

Not only did Frankenheimer direct my friend; my friend also met Frankenheimer's daughter, Kristi. Pay attention readers, you are about to learn something about networking: Kevin was inventive enough to network and pitch a local independent film, Ashes, to his daughter who in turn would give it to her dad to view. Smart thinking on Kevin’s part.

Some of you may think that it was a bit of a bold move on his part and you would never approach a celebrity like that and be so forward. Why not, the worst that can happen is the celebrity would say “no.” Or, you would get kicked off the set, but I doubt the latter would happen unless you were really rude and obnoxious.

The best that could happen is Frankenheimer likes Kevin’s movie and helps him with its distribution, or find an agent who helps distribute the film. Not bad for approaching the daughter of a well-known director and producer.

Here is Kevin’s account of his day on the set with one of the most distinguished filmmakers:

The movie Path to War filmed at the California State Capital on Monday. Long Day--7: 30 AM until 11:45 PM! Very interesting day as I had the chance to work and speak with the director John Frankenheimer and his daughter, Kristi. I was very impressed with Frankenheimer - he demands a lot from his crew and he definitely doesn't tolerate wasted time ...but when you're responsible for a 17million dollar budget project, the pressure is certainly on for you to get the job done! He did take the time to stop the filming long enough to personally thank all of the Sacramento cast and complimented them on their work, which I found very refreshing, especially from someone of his stature.

I had the opportunity to speak with his daughter, Kristi, for a few minutes between set-ups and Kristi accepted a copy of the local independent film Ashes that she promised to give to her father. She also provided me with the production office number in LA so I could stay in touch and do a follow up on his impressions of the film.

© 2016 Kenna McHugh


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