KU film grad to share lessons learned in Hollywood

Most feature film DVDs offer director’s commentary or actor’s commentary.

But what about production assistant’s commentary?

Marc Havener, a PA on dozens of Hollywood productions, will have his opportunity to jaw about the industry during a presentation titled “On the Set of ’21’ (And Other Hollywood Movies): What a KU Film Grad Learned from 10 years in L.A.”

The event takes place at 8 p.m. Sunday at Oldfather Studios, 1621 W. Ninth St.

“For someone who always wanted to work on Hollywood movies, it was a bit of a high. There were days I would look around and couldn’t believe I was having these experiences,” Havener says.

Among the highlights: escorting Jim Carrey to the top of an L.A. high-rise for a scene on its helipad; traveling to Nogales, Mexico, for a shoot on the George Clooney flick “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”; riding a shuttle boat in the Pacific Ocean to reach the set of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

But just as important as brushing elbows with A-listers was the on-the-job training that has prepared him for his own filmmaking career.

“I got to watch Roger Deakins (Coen Brothers’ films) light a set, observe Scott Rogers (‘Spiderman’) choreograph stunts and assist Justin Muller (1st AD on ’21’) with hundreds of extras,” he says.

Perhaps the greatest lesson the Wichita native extracted was to recognize the need to make his own movies.

“As a set production assistant, my natural progression would have led me to joining the Directors Guild as a second-second assistant director and many years working toward becoming a first AD. But I did not want to spend another 10-20 years managing and coordinating other people’s projects,” he says.

Because of this, he has launched Resonate Pictures.

Havener says his company is producing documentaries and developing a feature. He has also found a niche crafting ethics-compliance training videos.

As for his time spent at KU, where he graduated with a film degree in 1996, Havener says the classes “opened me up to new experiences that have all applied to my filmmaking, be it as a storyteller, an artist or a business owner.”