The Liberty Gazette
November 3, 2015Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Monika Petrillo is the writer, producer, director, editor and everything else of the documentary, "Flyabout", a film about her adventures taking a flying trip with her father as they circumnavigated Australia. The story of self-discovery, relationships, travel, culture, and flying is available on DVD and I highly recommend it - very well done. What she captured pulls the audience in and keeps us glued.
Last week I mentioned my dad’s involvement in filmmaking, and in his later years working as an "extra" in several feature films. One of these films was "Tin Cup" (starring Kevin Costner), in which Dad appeared in scenes shot at the golf courses of three Kingwood country clubs. A few readers insisted I tell the funny story to which I alluded. To write with an aviation-Hollywood connection a call to Monika was in order; we hadn’t actually talked live-in-person in years and she’s a fascinating and cool person, making this a fun assignment.
When she filmed "Flyabout" Monika knew she wanted to fly and direct, but found she can focus on one passion at a time, so as of last year flying is on hold while she raises her children and pursues her career.
She began working in her home country of Germany and moved to Hollywood as a script supervisor. Right now, she’s working on HBO’s "Silicon Valley". During filming you’ll find Monika’s chair next to the Director’s chair; her work includes such important things as continuity, helping the actors with their lines, and making script notes for the editors. Continuity is critical because scenes are not shot sequentially to the story, rather, all location scenes are shot at one time. Editing puts them together in story sequence. You don’t want to go to a movie and pick out mistakes such as a cigarette getting longer as it’s smoked, or an actor wearing a blue sweater and then suddenly a green sweater.
Dad did some directing, too, mostly industrial films and commercials, in Chicago and Indianapolis. He directed Charlton Heston in a film once when they were both in Chicago in their early days. When we heard that Hollywood was coming to Kingwood to film scenes for a movie, Dad came to stay with us to join in the fun.
One day during shooting, as Kevin Costner was practicing his golf swing, he hit the ball hard. Out it went, not very high, but very fast, finding its way to the bullseye it sensed on Dad’s left kneecap. Dad fell to the ground, writhing, and Kevin ran over apologizing and yelling for medical help. Every time the phone rang at the Emergency Room at Kingwood Hospital every woman working in the area ran for the phone because Kevin was calling to check on Dad.
Fortunately, his kneecap wasn’t shattered and he hobbled out on crutches the same day. Kevin autographed a golf ball for Dad, said ball now being in my possession.
Some day, Monika will be back in the sky, an aviatrix and Hollywood director, and I look forward to great things to come from her. Meanwhile, to prove her directing talent, she’s finished filming and is now editing her short film, "Wink", a story about a lonely, bored housewife who befriends a goldfish. Expect to see "Wink" in film festivals and on YouTube soon.