Q1 2023

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A CHILDHOOD AVERSION TO READING LED TO A LONG CAREER READING AND WRITING SEE PAGE 54 Randy Kornfield with friend. 20 C I N E M O N T A G E U N I O N M A D E By Randy Kornfield I was raised in the San Fernando Valley, which was more Hollywood adjacent than I was initially aware of. In fact, I didn't realize until my teens that a mem- ber of my family had a hand in the industry before I was even born. As I grew up, TV shows and movies, not books, were my preferred form of escapism. I was a visual learner and not a fan of the printed word; reading was often a frustrating struggle that I was forced to do in school, and I re- sented it. Instead, it was the visual media that fed my adventurous flights of fancy, and they continue to do so to this day. And it is that love of visual storytelling that has served me well all the years in between. The first time I became aware that there was an academic and artful approach to film came via a high school English teacher who taught one of the first film classes in Los Angeles public schools. It was Mr. Jay's en- couragement that really lit a fire under me. And it was that experience that also helped me appreciate the work of my late paternal grandfather, Harry Kornfield. "Pop" was a boom operator on everything from "The Grapes of Wrath" to Laurel & Hardy movies to "I Love Lucy." Although Pop was a proud union member, I'm told that he never con- sidered the work anything but just another job. A quiet, modest man, he passed when I was young, and I regret never having had the chance to learn about his experiences, although I am convinced he somehow post- humously inspired me. Entering college, I was determined to go the film studies route. After graduating, I got my first job copying scripts in the I COULD WRITE A BOOK Lorimar Productions basement. The work was monotonous, but it provided me time to become familiar with scripts and dabble in writing myself. However, I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do in the business; I just knew I was hell-bent to do something. During the next few years, while eking out a living in a variety of menial industry positions, I wrote more and more but never had any luck or the requisite connections to get anything sold. Or perhaps I just wasn't talented enough at the time. Through a co-worker friend, I landed a production staff job with the then fledg- ling Amblin Entertainment. That was an eye-opening experience if there ever was one. Working essentially as an un-glorified gofer, I was tasked with doing anything and everything no one else wanted to do or couldn't be bothered with — from hunting down cantaloupe extract, to video record- ing programs that Spielberg could watch in Sri Lanka during breaks from filming "In- diana Jones And The Temple Of Doom," to transporting the actual "E.T." to Lucasfilm in the Bay Area. As addictive as it was, my Amblin experience taught me that I didn't want anything more to do with production. Instead, I decided to focus on how the script came to be, and how it provided the founda- tion for the production and the film itself. For without a good script, even a talent like Spielberg couldn't make a movie succeed. Wo r k i n g a s a n e xe c u t i v e a ss i s ta n t exposed me to the notion of becoming a studio story analyst, a profession few peo- ple outside the industry are aware exists. I was recommended for a non-union job at United Artists, where several "readers" evaluated available books and screenplays and generated notes on development proj- ects. I excelled because of my knowledge of screenplay structure, which I gained from studying scripts and watching the classics. But I was also valued because I simultane- ously maintained the high-wire act that all analysts must master, i.e., providing honest, constructive criticism without an- gering or offending the powers that be. The next step was moving up to union analyst jobs, at MGM and Fox, which came about because a studio story editor knew of my abilities and got me my required 30 days of work. The union position provided me with stable employment and much-treasured

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