Monday, June 18, 2007

Nuts

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Janet's post about actors who stare at each other too long while "driving" has me thinking about other movie scenes that drive me nuts.

I've always had a hard time the suspension of disbelief - the thing in your mind that allows you to believe a cartoon character is a person or that Jimmy Stewart really is a regular guy who talks to an angel.

I'm always the one who notices that the car door was open in one shot but closed in another angle. Or that the actress was playing with her hair or soda and that the hair / soda moves from shot to shot.

Just the same, I always loved movies and still do. But I knew I was in for rude awakening working on my first film, Uncle Tom's Cabin, for Showtime. The young, handsome (now well-known) Associate Producer took his Production Coordinator girlfriend (now a really famous producer) and I to see some movie. All I remember was it was shot in LA. They were both homesick having been on location in Mississippi for months. In the film's opening shot, the camera was on a boom outside of Pink's Hotdogs. The excited couple started telling me all about Pinks and how I just had to eat there. The camera boomed down to street level to reveal the lead actor on a pay phone. As soon as they saw the phone both screamed out in unison, "That phone is not really there!" Thus began my real life encounters with what's fake and what's really fake in Hollywood.

Once, I got a phone call and 24 hours notice to be on a plane to South America for several months to work on a movie. I had never heard of the film even though we were to be shooting a sequel. The LA runner who took my passport for all the appropriate visas (on a Saturday) met me at the plane with my stamped passport, Australes and a script.

As my production manager and I settle in for 24 hours of traveling, we started to read the script. As I was few pages ahead of her, I kept looking up at her in disbelief. I was convinced the writer had to be drunk! (Turns out, I was on the mark.) The two lead characters would get out of one vehicle - say a Jeep, run into a building where some sort of action would take place. The actors would run and and get into the Ferrari. They would drive along chatting and suddenly be parking the corvette, run into a building, more action, run out and drive off in the Hummer. See the problem??

Luckily this kind of thing is easily rectified during shooting and that kind of stuff rarely makes it to the screen. It does amaze me that someone can sell such crap for mucho dinero and actually get the movie made.

My personal favorite thing to look for on screen is, when ever you see a road, look really close. Day or night, it's always wet. The reason this drives me nuts was it was my responsibility to get a water truck and an extra walkie for the driver.... which is not that big of a deal except on the way home. At the end of the day, especially in our windy, mountain terrain, a water truck must be empty to make it home safely. This often involved an extra permit for the water dump or sometimes finding farmer that would let us water the fields (and still get some money for the right to let us water his crops!). And since I'm always the last to get to leave, I would have to wait for the truck to be emptied.

Oh, why are the streets always wet?? Asphalt photographs as dull grey when dry. So if there is a street scene, it's always wet down before every shot to make it photograph black.

And while we're on the subject of water... that's another thing that makes me crazy. An actor gets out of water - a lake, ocean, etc. Is he ever dripping wet??? NO, not ever. Or maybe if the actor is shot getting out of the water, yes he is dripping but in subsequent takes (seconds later in the film), he's practically dry!!! They allow this because most actors complain and no one wants to deal with it. It really makes you appreciate John Cusack who I think is the most soaking wet actor of all time. Seriously, have any Cusack fans ever counted the number of films he's terribly wet in?? I think the answer is easily more than ten! That makes him a trooper in my book.

Of all the scenes in all the thousands of movies I've watched, the one situation that makes me the craziest is a scene where a woman and man are involved and supposedly love each other. Enter a bad guy who proceeds to kick the other guy's butt. What does the woman do while her paramour is being beaten to a pulp?? Why, nothing! She stands there, hands to her face but basically does nothing. I can honestly say, I don't know one woman like that! Do you?

I can tell you if someone started beating on someone I love, that guy better plan on taking me out or getting his own butt kicked! I want to see that heroine kick the bad guy where it hurts, grab a lamp and knock him over the head or, at a minimum, run down the hall and call 911. But to see her stand there, doing nothing to help her guy... I just want to reach out and slap some sense into her!

Finally, the last thing that drives me nuts has less to do with unrelistic on-screen happenings than to do with networks and how they don't really give good shows a chance. There were several excellent shows this past season that got axed way too easily. Favorites from this past season: Vanished, Studio 60, and Kidnapped. All were wonderful and all are gone. My other favorite was Jericho.

This show was such a favorite that fans have written letters of protests, set up websites, and even resorted to sending over 40,000 lbs. of nuts to CBS execs as a form of protest. (The word Nuts played a key role in the season finale having to do with going to war.)

Jericho
will return mid-season for a limited run to try and gain new viewers thanks to the efforts of the fans. That's the kind of entertainment craziness that makes me smile. ; }

2 comments:

Ordinary Janet said...

You've hit on many things about movies and TV shows that make me grind my teeth, too! Makes me wonder if the people who write these things have any idea of what happens in the real world. I know that part of it is the actor/actress saying they don't want to do such-and-such. But I never could understand why the girl stands by in horror as her beloved is getting the crap beaten out of him when there's, say, a baseball bat handy. Or why she doesn't lunge for the gun that got knocked out of the bad guy's hand. Gimme a break.

Thanks for explaining why the streets are always wet at night, even in Arizona. ;-) That reminds me-I'm always amused at scenes in B movies that are supposed to be happening at night, and you can see that in reality it was shot in broad daylight, they just skipped the arc lights hoping we'd believe that it was night.

Jackie said...

Wow, Holly, you do some really interesting work! This was so fun to read - thanks for the rant - I love it.

T and I will be watching some show or movie and one of those 'impossible' or 'out of sync' things will be going on, and we just look at each other with our mouths hanging open! LOL