‘Temptations’ movie and talk by assistant director at library Apr. 11

Deborra Brannon
Deborah Dell’Amico

“The Temptations” will play at the Mount Shasta library April 11 as the first community movie night event to be held in the newly outfitted audio/visual meeting space.

Special guest speaker for the evening will be Mount Shasta resident Deborah Dell’Amico, who worked as first assistant director on the film. After the movie, she will share stories about the production and her experience working on the film.

The movie is about the original Temptations singing group, how they came together and got their start at Motown Records, how events played out over their career, and how they “came apart,” Dell’Amico explained.

“The movie’s director, Alan Arkish, loves music, especially Motown,” she said. “It was so much fun. Everybody involved was grooving to the tunes, even the Teamsters. The music is infectious.”

Dell’Amico worked in the movie and television industry for more than 30 years. She said she got into the Directors Guild of America in 1979.

“I was one of the first women in the Guild. It was very challenging. It was a man’s world,” she said.

Prospective employers would tell her at the outset, “I’m just letting you know I’m only interviewing you because I have to,” Dell’Amico reported.

“I was constantly being challenged. It was considered a man’s job. They didn’t like a woman telling a man what to do,” she recalls. “Things got better when people realized that when they tried to break me, I didn’t crumble.”

In 1981 she moved to Mount Shasta with her husband Richard McDowell and their family.

“I decided that directing was my job, not my life. I wanted to do the job in a way that would allow me to live in a place like this,” she said.

McDowell had been a construction coordinator in the set building aspect of the movie business but was ready to let it go.

“He was done, but I was not,” Dell’Amico said.

The family left Los Angeles and started their search for a new home in Montana, then traveled through the Pacific Northwest, still looking.

“We saw a lot of places, but it felt like you had to fit a certain mold in those small towns,” Dell’Amico said.

Their lifestyle was alternative, she explained. McDowell, she said, was “Mr. Mom” and stayed home with the children, a practice not yet widespread, while she traveled away from her family to work.

Driving down I-5 the couple saw signs for Mount Shasta. “Richard remembered an earlier trip there, and said we ought to have a look,” she recalls.

A realtor showed them a home on Shasta Acres road that day, and they made an offer on the house within 24 hours. Twelve hours after that, their offer was accepted and they haven’t looked back.

“It was trickier, living up here and working down there. Contacts in that business are based on networking,” she said, which generally involves proximity.

But Dell’Amico said her reputation was established as being good at what she did. When it was time to go to work she’d make some phone calls and connect up again.

“I’ve managed to work from this location for 30 years,” she said. “It’s 602 miles door to door from my house to my work in L.A. That’s just a day’s drive.”

While working on feature films, she stayed in Los Angeles for about six months on a given project and then came home to Mount Shasta for the next six months.

Television movies only took about three to four months to finish, allowing more time at home with her family.

Dell’Amico and McDowell still live in the home they built not far from the house they originally purchased. It was the first house McDowell designed and built himself.

Dell’Amico is not currently active in the movie and television industry in Los Angeles, but said she has some projects in mind for local documentary work.

There are a lot of interesting people and stories here, she said. “I want to tell those stories.”

“The Temptations” will be shown free of charge in the Mount Shasta library on Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and seating is limited.