5 stay-at-home questions with Mike Wendt

Mike Wendt, production coordinator, Greater Cleveland Film Commission
If there’s one universal truth about movie making, it is this: filmmakers gotta film. Roughly translated, it means anyone associated with the making movies is fueled by collaboration and buoyed by the joy of being on set.

Imagine, then, what a stay-at-home order can do to the mind of movie maker? How do filmmakers scratch that itch when they’re stuck between four walls with no crew? And what about everyone else? The producers, writers, teachers and champions who long to be on a set or in a crowded theater?

What’s going through their head? We weren’t sure, so we asked.

Over the next couple weeks (or longer?), we’re checking in with filmmakers big and small to find out how they’re doing - and what movies are on their stay-at-home must-watch list. Know a filmmaker who we should spotlight? Email us at midwestmovies@gmail.com.

Today we’re talking to Mike Wendt, production coordinator at the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. Every Friday in April, Wendt is hosting a “Netflix in CLE” Netflix party, in which Wendt shares insider film trivia, Cleveland location fun facts, and in some cases, personal stories from his time on the set of these shot-in-Northeast-Ohio films.

5 stay-at-home questions with Mike Wendt

Midwest Movie Maker: How would you describe being a filmmaker stuck at home without a crew?

Mike Wendt: I’m a very active person and like to be out and about, so it’s been a little tough for me. But, while in the house, I’ve been writing some, editing projects that have been in the works, and making a daily video on YouTube (Movie Suggestions with Mike) giving suggestions for movies to watch, most of them with some local tie. 

MM: How are you stretching your filmmaking skills while at home? 

MW: I’ve been watching certain online tutorials to get better acquainted with Adobe Premiere. I was for a long time a Final Cut person and made the switch recently. I think any of the editing programs have similarities, but each have their differences.

Mike Wendt, right, interviews journalist John Petkovic

MM: What passion project are you working on now that you’ve got extra time? 

MW: I’m working with my editor, Rob Montague, on finishing a documentary I won a grant for, titled Robert Banks: I’ll Tell You About That Later. We have a deadline to show work-in-progress as a requirement for the doc, so as he cuts away, we do online discussions. We usually do them in person, but want to abide by the distancing.

MM: If you were asked to make a movie about this COVID time, what would it be? Pitch it to us!

MW: Whenever I take a walk in the park and see people, everyone looks at each other with this slight fear. I think a film could be played up around that fact. It’s like this silent fear we all have. I’m sure a thriller could be built off that. 

MM: What five films are a must for everyone stuck at home?

  • Rear Window
  • Take Shelter
  • Punch Drunk Love
  • RoboCop
  • The Big Chill