Fall 2015

Meredith Zamsky

Creative UPM

Although UPM Meredith Zamsky has been based in Los Angeles since 2006, helping to steer hit TV shows like Castle and The Office, she says many formative years in New York helped to shape her production skills, for shows big and small.

Her first job as a UPM was on Tom DiCillo’s Sundance hit Living in Oblivion (1995), which Zamsky remembers as being the first film to shoot at a downtown stage owned by theater impresario David Buckley.

"It was called Raw Space, and that’s literally what it was," says Zamsky. "We had to create a production hub from scratch. Our office was on the second floor, and you could see down onto the stage where the actors, whose dressing rooms were made out of grip stands and shower curtains, were in wardrobe."

A slew of Afterschool Specials also provided solid training. "They were handmade, so you learned all about script, casting, hiring department heads, finding office space, and more," recalls Zamsky. "And you always stayed through to delivery—editing, picture lock, music, sound mix, and final video online."

The biggest change from those early days in the Big Apple to working as part of a Hollywood machine like Castle is technology. "Back then, the AD would come on set with the big heavy strip board," she says, laughing. "And UPMs would spend their time at the corner pay phone with rolls of quarters making calls to agents and the production office."

Zamsky cites Shana Feste’s indie feature Country Strong (2010) as a test of all her UPM skills. "Working with the 1st AD [Mark Little] and producer [Jenno Topping] was like a trio of master puzzlers trying to accommodate everyone’s needs and still make a great movie," she says.

Zamsky calls Castle one of her most satisfying assignments. "It’s a very complex show—you shoot for 180 days in a row with double-ups, crossover days, still and second units, without ever compromising quality. Cinematography, art direction, and production design are at such a high level. I loved how it mirrored my experience in features."

After finishing Castle this past May, Zamsky recently transitioned to a new phase of her career, becoming vice president of production at TNT. "It’s a bit like going back to my New York roots," she says.

(Photo: Brian Davis)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

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