Behind the Scenes at the Movies

Zootopia's rolling credits displayed all of the production team (from director to animation supervisor to assistant editors) before rolling the actors' names. The 2016 Oscars changed the order of the awards around so the production awards (cinematography, production design, sound mixing) came before the actors, director, and best picture. Given this apparent change in Hollywood to making audiences understand all that goes behind the making of a movie beyond the faces of the celebrities we know and love, and this being my last article for the Film Column this year, this article will outline some elements of the movie-making practice you may have never considered before. 

-Integrating current technology is quite an involved process. Characters may need to have a Facebook page to be looking at in one scene, or may need to get a FaceTime call at the right time, or have a text conversation that flows as quickly as we in the audience would expect. Then these things have to happen over and over to get the right shot.

-Filmmakers need permission to display common products and logos, too! If they do not get permission to use a given copyrighted product, they have to come up with their own version. We all remember the infamous “pear” computers from Zoey 101

-Filmmakers need to get legal permission to film in any public space or on any state property they decide to shoot a scene on. This involves having a detailed description of the filming that will occur, getting insurance, and getting a registered permit to film. If you’re filming on the highway or using any surface street, you need to have the Highway Patrol and Police Department informed and present during filming.

-The costuming process is long and tedious (but eventually beautiful!), especially if the film is purported to be historically accurate. The costume designer needs to get a clear feel and vision for what the film will look like. They need to research the clothing of the period and culture of the film: the fabrics and cuts of fabric used, the prevailing colors of the time, and the role of clothing in a given character's life. They then need to purchase either specific articles of clothing or the materials to make the clothing, enough for the actors to have various costume changes throughout the film. Other things they need to take into account include the mobility needs of the actors, how the colors and patterns of the various pieces of clothing in a given shot coordinate with each other, and all the accessories and hair pieces needed in addition to basic clothing. Even lingerie and underwear needs to be designed and produced! I mean, think about all the costuming decisions that went into the production of Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Now think about the number of decisions for a 140-minute feature-length film set in 1640s England with 600 cast members to dress.

-The amount of time it takes to film, let alone complete pre- and post-production and distribution is staggering. Most independent films shoot four to five pages of a script per day, out of the average 90-110 pages of a feature-length film's script (100 to 120 minutes).

-Most films are bought for distribution once they have been completed. This means that there is one huge screening of any given new film with a dozen or more potential buyers in the room, ready to bid, usually for the lowest price possible.

And just for a little fun, here are 10 crazy, quirky, weird movie facts:

1) Three of the most successful filmmakers (James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino) did not go to film school.

2) The music that plays during the Joker's scenes in The Dark Knight was inspired by the sound that a razor blade makes on piano wire.

3) All scenes that take place in The Matrix are tinted green to make it look like it’s taking place on a computer screen.

4) The munchkins in The Wizard of Oz were paid $50 a week for a six-day workweek; Toto was paid $125.

5) Psycho was the first American movie to show a toilet flushing on screen.

6) Darth Vader only has 12 minutes of screen time in the original Star Wars.

7) 101 Dalmatians and Peter Pan are the only two Disney movies where both parents of the protagonist are present and don’t die at some point during the movie.

8) Bollywood, India’s movie industry, produces twice as many movies per year as Hollywood.

9) The word “actually” is spoken by the characters 22 times in the film Love Actually.

10) All the clocks seen in Pulp Fiction are stuck on 4:20.

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