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Being a PA for Spielberg Saved My First Feature Film

Teri Gamble
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Being a PA for Spielberg Saved My First Feature Film

Brooklyn, NY – July 25, 2016 – Independent Filmmaker, Jamie Buckner, discusses how his work with legendary directors, like Spielberg, Scorsese, Kaufman, Ephron & Crowe influenced his feature film debut, Split the world’s first romantic bowling comedy. Split, releases digitally August 2nd. Buckner translates big-budget moviemaking lessons from the masters that indie filmmakers can use to take their own projects to the next level, no matter the size of the budget!


Early on in Buckner’s career he had the opportunity to watch Steven Spielberg work. While watching Spielberg direct a huge visual effects scene with a train on fire in the middle of the night in upstate New York, he was taken aback at the grandeur of witnessing how a, “BIG blockbuster movie being made really looks like.” Being able to see all the mastery of Spielberg, the moving pieces and the team it really takes to pull it off was a defining moment in Jamie’s early career.


Many directors stress the importance of casting the right people to get the job done. Buckner had the pleasure of learning this lesson first hand from another great master of the craft, Martin Scorsese. “He really preaches the importance of that and it’s very apparent in his process.” Scorsese has worked with many of the same actors time and again because he has developed a shorthand with them and he knows they can and will deliver what he wants.


Honoring one’s artistic vision and story was a lesson that Charlie Kaufman taught Buckner on his journey to making his own feature. “Charlie was genuinely fascinating to work with, he makes you realize that not everyone has to ‘get’ what you’re going for.” Kaufman focuses on telling his own stories, realizing his vision and trusting that the right audience will find the art. Buckner took this lesson to heart and set his feature in a niche world that he is very passionate about - competitive bowling.


Split, is billed as the world’s first romantic bowling comedy, and it only seems right that the queen of the Rom-Com, Nora Ephron, be referenced. Buckner was heavily influenced by working with her, as well. He admits that, “if you’re making a romantic comedy you’re basically pulling from the Nora Ephron playbook the whole time.” She taught Jamie the importance of, “knowingly exactly what you want, while not taking yourself too seriously.” She also taught Jamie to make a set a great second home by keeping plenty of good food on hand.


Cameron Crowe is known for incorporating music during his filming process to convey a mood or set the tone for a scene. Music can inspire as is its intention, “it’s right there in the name: muse.”  Music as a way in may not work for every director, but working with Crowe and his music process opened Buckner’s mind up to the idea of finding one’s own process. Buckner found that his was into the story was to write and direct a project himself. “The writing component will always come first to me, as I know it does with Cameron. The directing is just a way to bring my ideas to life, filtering them through with the help of others.”


Working with these directing legends gave Buckner the opportunity to study the mastery of the craft, the importance of casting, honoring artistic vision, and finding and trusting one’s own process. His biggest takeaway from all of his years of work leading up to his debut feature is, “to be happy with what you’re doing and what you already have,” because no matter the budget or size of the film, “there’s never enough time or money, honestly, that’s always true from a $300 budget to a $3 million budget!”

Split will be released August 2 through Gravitas Ventures on iTunes, VUDU, Amazon and On Demand via Satellite & Cable providers (check local listings).
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