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Heath McKnight

Heath McKnight, co-producer, “December”

What have you been working on since you shot “December.”?  

I’ve been mostly developing projects and working on the DVD release for my last feature film, 9:04 AM (, along with wrapping up visual effects on a short I directed called Hellevator (  I’m also getting into 3D technology and hoping my next feature film will be shot in 3D.  I don’t think that will happen until 2011, about 5 years since my last feature went into production, because I’m working on script development and hope to get a script ready in 2010, along with some visual FX and 3D tests.

 How did you feel about your role in December? 

It was great!  I had just finished 9:04 AM in April 2007 when Gary Dresden asked me to help get December made.  It was a lot of work, and I thank our hard-working cast and crew, along with Gary who had the vision for the film.  If it wasn’t for my co-producer, Marina Pronesti, I don’t think the film’s production would’ve been as smooth as it was.

 What did you take away from the experience? 

 Even with a bigger budget, cast, and crew, it always comes down to a great story.  No matter what, you have to have a story that will engage audiences, whether the budget is $2,000, $200,000 or $200 million.  Gary spent a lot of time working on the script to get it right.

 Which people did you most relate to on the set? 

 The crew and my fellow producer, and of course the director.  I also tend to produce the films I’m directing, so I can appreciate the stress both positions offer.

 How do you feel about the film and the message that it sends?

  Put aside bad feelings when it comes to friends and family; life’s too short for fighting.

 Did you find the director and the rest of the artistic team respected the time that it took to set up properly for each scene and left you alone to do your job?

 Gary trusted his crew and cast, which is very important, especially for a first-time director.  If you don’t trust them, you will micromanage, which I did years ago, and all it does it cause unnecessary stress and tension.  I will say that despite the “madness” of any production, I loved working with Marina and Gary during pre-production.  Of course, pre-production always means shorter hours than filming (laughs).  As one of the editors on the film, working with Gary was fun because he’d do a rough cut of a scene and I’d add to it.  He was in North Carolina and I was in South Florida, so we each had an external hard drive with the same clips on it, and he’d send me Final Cut Pro project files via email which I’d open, view his cut, and start to refine and add to it.  And Derek Miner really took that first solid cut and turned it into a great final film.

 What did you walk away with from the experience? 

  Longer pre-production is essential!

 What did you feel about working with Jeff Mackay? 

 Jeff was always professional, he helped make everyone feel comfortable, and delivered a great performance every day.

 Who in cast and crew impressed you the most?

 I was very pleased with all of our cast and crew.