Best Flack (2005)
Take it from us. The best public relations specialists aren't the shrillest or the ones with the most free goodies (don't expect a story in New Times just because you sent an unsolicited gifty) or even the ones who call you the most. The best ones are, like Jan Mitchell, the ones who deliver the goods. Mitchell, one of the movie industry's mainstays in South Florida, started out 20 years ago in partnership with her dad, Jack Mitchell; the father-daughter combination handled accounts for most of the major studios, repping movies like Dances with Wolves and Silence of the Lambs. Since she started her own agency four years ago, Mitchell has gone indie, representing a wide range of flicks, recently including everything from the ground-breaking The Brown Bunny to the blockbuster The Passion of the Christ (if you know the movies, you know the stretch doesn't get any wider). But she's been most visible as a spokesperson for both the Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beach international film festivals. It's not as easy as it sounds. Doing public relations in the film biz means getting the word out quickly to reporters about unexpected events, throwing together well-crafted press packets under impossible deadlines, and keeping touchy, egotistical reviewers happy. "You gotta be prepared to wing it," she says. "You can have a film pulled at the last minute or have one fall into place and it's so good you can't turn it down. Things happen." Mitchell's secret is, it seems to us, her likability. The easygoing Mitchell, who sometimes volunteers her services for charities like the National Family Caregivers Association, knows how to make conversation without edging into the awful what-are-you-going-to-do-for-me territory. Like she's a normal human being. A flack? Who woulda thunk it?