It was 1968. The job of Production Assistant as a title was non-existent. The thankless job of putting together call sheets, and delivering them, keeping all the records for personnel hours and things used, and doing all those little things that lubricated the process behind the scenes fell to the assistant director instead. If a chicken were checked out for the day for a shot, Howard Kazanjian recorded it. Somewhere today there rests in the WB archives for such things, those hand written records put together faithfully by Howard.
You would think that you would need a bunch of these minions running around to insure everyone was reached in a timely fashion. But the number of ADs on a film wasn’t at the whim or even prerogative of the director, but rather wholly under the rule of the deals negotiated by the studios with the guilds. When it came to ADs numeric factors trumped all else, and the numbers for Peckinpah’s new project – The Wild Bunch, dictated that it be limited to two.
So why are there six ADs listed in IMDB for the Wild Bunch?
Just because a maximum of two was dictated, that didn’t mean that the director had to keep them if he didn’t like them. And Sam Peckinpah found a multitude of reasons to fire his aids. A chore after the decision actually left to his production manager, Bill Faralla – (and that all without even an explanation). Howard was the only AD that was not fired by the fiery director. So why is he not listed on the credits that appear in the film itself? His title of Second Assistant Director was a category at that time that was not authorized in any title scroll.
One of the few exceptions to this dictum, involved Howard himself just the year before. He did such a bang up job on Finian’s Rainbow that the producer fought for, and succeeded in getting him a credit on that title.
The first casualty among the AD ranks was the 1st Asst, Phil Rawlins. He had lots of experience on TV westerns. He was a rodeo cowboy who first worked as a stunt man, then as an AD – in shows like Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Maverick, and now more recently on F Troop, in which he moved up from AD to associate producer. For whatever reason he was let go before the first day of principal photography. All he was told was that his replacement would be arriving in the morning.
As things panned out, this left Howard as the only American AD when the first cameras rolled.
Up next Wednesday, the next installment in the Adventures of Howard Kazanjian – First Day of Shooting at Anything that Moves. So stay tuned and Watch This Space.