A Film by Roger and Gerald Sindell

The Producer’s Tale

How the Film Came Into Existence in 7 Months From Start to Finish

by Ivan Sindell

Double-Stop was conceived in mid-June, 1967 and went into production the week after Labor Day, 1967.

How in the world was that achieved?

I had  been living in England. Gerald had said come to LA and we will make films. My wife and I arrived in January, 1967 and lived for awhile with Gerald and his wife.

I got a job working as an assistant news camera and sound man. My wife was pregnant, and I wasn’t making enough money, so I felt under a lot of pressure.

Gerald had told me we could make a color feature motion picture for $100,000.

So one June morning I arrived at his house and simply said, “Let’s make that film.”  He
replied “Okay, let’s do it,” and proposed the theme and title immediately.

We spent  two or three days conceptualizing and developing a movie treatment. Then we created a preliminary  budget and a four week shooting schedule.  This was the first time I had ever seen a budget or a schedule for anything. (Currently, my company Global Communications Systems Research, Inc. does project management and engineering for complex telecommunications implementations.) So I learned a lot that night.

We went over to see our uncle Berne Tabakin who was the President of National Telefilm Associates, (before and since that time also known as Republic Pictures) a company that sold film packages to television networks and stations.  NTA also did some film distribution. Bernie gave us a letter saying NTA would provide worldwide distribution for Double-Stop. That gave us the credibility to go to Cleveland in early July and start raising money.

The demands of the story, which takes place at the start of the school year, and the concept that the film capture the brief but beautiful Cleveland autumn colors, drove an insane critical path timeline.

In the following 75 days we formed a limited partnership, raised one hundred thousand dollars – in 57 chunks from $500 to $5,000, set up an accounting system,  wrote a script, hired a Los Angeles crew, set up agreements with equipment rental companies and Deluxe Lab. We got agreement from the Cleveland Orchestra to be in the film. The casting was done in locally, in late August, in parallel with the location scouting.

We had structured our Limited Partner Agreement in such a way that we could not begin spending money until we had 80% of the money in the bank. I returned to  Cleveland about August 20, still needing about $30,000. We had initially had readings in our folks living room for potential investors. Later I used the phone and one on one visits. By the last week of August, the money was in the bank.

Among our first concerns was the key picture car. We passed on an exquisite 1938 SS-100 4 place 1938 Jaguar roadster that we found in a garage in Pasadena. We finally found the Morgan in Ohio and had it painted in the beautiful Bentley brown and yellow scheme.

We found a coach house and  signed a lease with the  owners who moved out for a month. Very little needed to done. The house was close to what we had scripted.

A meeting that resulted in major ramifications for this story was when Tom Peterson after reading a article  in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about our plans, called and introduced himself. Tom had founded Motion Picture Sound in Cleveland.  From that first day until today and  especially today, more than forty years later, Tom has been a partner in this venture. Since that first meeting, Tom has  provided technical expertise,  facilities, equipment, enthusiasm and financial support for this venture.

Even the images in the gallery scene were shot by Tom and myself with his Pentax, one morning about two weeks into production.

The Film Today

I am very proud of the values that this film portrays. Both of my daughters are or have been public elementary school principles.

This film represents Gerald’s aesthetic and values and even the idea that such a film could be made. His work was beautiful and I learned  from him and I love him very much. We also owe a great deal to our parents Dave and Grace Sindell who stood behind us through this project. We were and are very lucky men.

For those who are seeing the film for the first time, more than 40 years after its creation, I hope you all enjoy it. What may have seemed a naïve aspiration to viewers at that time, now represents in many ways the country we have become. Even North Carolina voted for Barak Obama.