Remembering Rick Cowan

This special edition of KC Film Spotlight brings members of the Kansas City film industry together to honor our friend Rick Cowan, a pillar in our industry, who passed away suddenly August 8, 2016. Some of us knew Rick for decades, some of us met him this year – no matter how long you knew him, you felt like you “knew him.” The City of Kansas City proclaimed the date of his “Final Wrap Party,” August 17, 2016 forevermore “Rick Cowan Day.”

Production is like a big puzzle, some times you can find all the right pieces, other times you need help because one piece has fallen on the floor and is under the table.  Rick and I helped each other find the missing pieces no matter who’s job it was.            – K. Krieger

The people we visited with are directors, producers, production managers, art directors, and location scouts who worked alongside Rick Cowan for years. You may have your own memories to share – feel free to include those as a comment.

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INTRODUCTION

Jim Wheeler – I met Rick about 20 years ago.

Abby Dix – I am trying to pinpoint the year I met Rick, which escapes me, but it was long ago.

Kathy Krieger – 30+ years. God, where does the time go?

Brad Slaughter – I’ve known Rick for 22 years

Bryan Mangan – I have known Rick for 30 years.

Melissa Willis – Ummm I don’t know…..I met him on “Ninth Street..” I was PA. The movie was released in 1999 but as with independent film it took years to complete and release. I’m sure the shoot I was on was around 1995?  It was the club shoot in downtown KC. The day was dedicated to the amazingly long and beautiful steadicam shot of the entire club starting at the front door. Continue reading

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January Spotlight: Melissa Willis – Producer/Production Manager

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I had the pleasure of working with Melissa Willis at Take Two (now HINT) several years ago. She was the kind of producer who respected the Production and everyone’s roles in it. She seemed to always stay late, she was amazingly organized, and meticulous about her production books. One of the truly great things about her is her willingness to teach young associate producers and production assistants who were interested in how to run a commercial production. Melissa is what I call a “crackerjack.” She knows her stuff and accepts nothing but the best from those she works with. Melissa is now the Senior Producer at Northpass Media in Kansas City.


KCFMO: How long have you been in the production industry and how did you start?

Melissa: I started about 22 years ago. There are many moments which shapedmy first 2 years. I answered an ad in a local paper, the Pitch, I think. The ad was asking for people to participate in a documentary. We met at the Westport Library. At that meeting I met Kirby Cobb the director and creator of the project. We met every Wednesday night. From those meetings the Independent Filmmakers Coalition (IFC) was born.

Via the IFC I met Patti Watkins the Film Commissioner of Kansas City. I interned for her during Ang Lee’s feature “Ride with the Devil” and during Frank Pierson’s HBO movie “Truman” when they were scouting Kansas City. Patti recommended me for Production Secretary on “Truman”.  I’m forever grateful to her for that opportunity. My script cabinet was Emmy worthy!

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