MONDAY MORNING HOLLYWOOD
Actor Ken Davitian. A charismatic, fun family man and actor who exudes a refreshing happiness and contentment about his life, journey and career. You’ve seen him in Get Smart, Borat, Gilmore Girls and The Ghost Whisperer among others. Next up, Ken is laying the groundwork to put his producer hat on and start his own production company while awaiting the release of The Artist, the much anticipated black and white silent film picked up by the Weinstein Company at the Festival de Cannes.
What was the first job you ever had?Picking up garbage. My family owned a garbage company here in Los Angeles. I did that until I was thirty-nine years old. I started on the garbage truck when I was around twelve or thirteen. We had one truck at that time. By the time I went through college I was driving the truck. It was really interesting because we did a lot of theater plays during that time. When a production ended it was usually around midnight and everyone would go off to the wrap parties. I’d jump on a garbage truck to work. That was my first job.
I ended up having a trash company until I was thirty-five. I had seven trucks. We picked up in the City of Malibu. I gave the city a great, reduced rate for the contract because I wanted to be near movie stars. It was always my intention to be doing something in the movies. Garbage was my waiter job.
What made you pursue a career in Hollywood? My grandmother. She was a stage actress doing Armenian plays up and down the California coast. My family was in garbage. I looked at her and thought, that looks a lot easier. I took fifty years to make it, but that’s where I got the first bug to do it.
What was your first job in the movie/TV business and how did you get it?I got an agent when I was finishing college at Long Beach. That agent got me an audition in front of a new guy who was going to direct his first movie. I had never heard of him, but I didn’t care. I wanted to work. His name was Albert Brooks, the movie was Real Life and that’s how I got my SAG card… And then they cut me out of the movie completely.
Do you have a favorite story from the trenches? If you make Borat you come back with a lot of stories. We had just finished shooting a scene at a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere. We were about four hours from Memphis. We were walking to our cars and some guy pulls up in a Range Rover and yells, “Hey, aren’t you Sasha?” We didn’t respond and the guy yells again, “Hey, I know your brother” so Sasha turns around. We walk over to the car window having no idea who this guy is. Then the Director walks over to see what’s going on and the guy says, “I played music with your brother.” We still don’t know who this guy is. “Here’s my latest album.” He says, then Sasha and I look at the album and realize this guy is Robert Plant. It was really amazing. He was driving through the area to go to Elvis Presley’s old tailor to get some shirts made. We stayed and talked for an hour.
What is your dream job?My dream job is to work on a movie with Pacino, Pesci, DeNiro and Scorsese or any combination of them. Even if it was just one line. Just to be on the set with those people would be awesome.
What do you do on a typical day off?Work. I’m always pushing and that happens on the days off. I like playing poker, but really every day is about the next gig. In our business you’re always working and its fun.
What inspires you?My kids. I want to leave them with a production company instead of the garbage company. My job is to make sure they get out of the harbor so they can float in the ocean.
What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?Don’t stop. You get a machete and you chop your way through. With that said, if you don’t have to do this, if working in this business isn’t do or die for you, then go do something else. It’s too hard. It’s easier to be a doctor. My advice is, if you believe in yourself then keep going and be ready.
What are you doing now?I’m working on distribution for the film I’m producing, You May Not Kiss The Bride, and several other projects in development that I’d like to produce.
What do you hope to be doing ten years from now? Producing movies.
To learn more about Ken Davitan visit imdb.com, www.facebook.com/kendavitianor follow him on twitter www.twitter.com/realkendavitian