Very weird dream last night. I essentially dreamt that Beyoncé was killed in a car accident (probably a variation of what happened in the news yesterday regarding someone mistaking an offramp for a carpool lane and driving off an overpass). Weirdest thing about it was, it was so realistic that there were points where I could actually hear myself think, “Did this really happen in the real world?” I mean, seriously. I was expecting to log on and see enfarcer post a news story about it, along with a eulogy from smartguy323 and a lot of collective mourning about the loss of one of the most prominent R&B artists of the decade.
OK, I owe you guys some details about the film shoot.
Put simply, I’m glad I got a chance to be on a film set and watch a full-length feature film get created, if for no other reason that it confirmed for me how much I never want to work in the film industry.
This doesn’t mean I don’t want to work in television; no, sir. In fact, my time at the film shoot proved that film production and TV production are two completely different animals. Yeah, they both have a camera, a script, and talent, but that’s basically where all the similarities end. And it’s those differences that nearly drove me mad while on set. Film is treated more like a craft, while TV is more of a product. Film is all about the aesthetics, while on TV, efficiency is key.
Unfortunately, I probably picked the most unorganized, ill-prepared and, frankly, incompetent movie to intern for.
To start, the script itself was a disaster. I got a chance to read through the whole thing during some down time (which there was a lot of; I’ll get to that in a minute) and the whole thing is terrible. It’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, but all of the humor is so monotone and predictable that it actually interferes with the storyline. For example, the female lead is a struggling musician who keeps getting booked at the seediest places imaginable (a strip club, a freakshow revue, even a prison) by her manager brother. Only problem is, at every gig, her brother gets so worked up about the music that he starts singing along and banging on his table with the music. This gets the audience understandably upset, and when someone tells him to quiet down, he starts a brawl, aborting his sister’s performance. By the third time it happens, you begin to wonder why this woman would allow her brother to attend a show, since he’s responsible for ruining every gig. That’s not humor. It’s stupidity.
As for the plot, involves a lot of contradictions, sudden changes of heart, and a little deus ex machina ending thrown in for good measure. It’s a pretty bad sign for a movie when the person who wrote and directed the movie can neither write nor direct.
When the time came to actually film these scenes, the differences between film and TV when it comes to setting up the shots became extremely prominent. I don’t remember a single day out of the 30-day shoot in which we got our first shot off any less than three hours into the day. Much of this has to do with the fact that of those 30 days, we shot in about 19 different locations, and each new location meant more time spent on setting up all the lights, the cables, and the blocking. Similarly, there wasn’t a single day out of the 30 where we got everything done on time.
Case in point: about midway through the shoot, we were filming an overnight scene at some caves in the Hollywood Hills. It’s a 45-second scene with very little dialogue, and isn’t particularly important to the story. Hence, I figured that this was going to be our easiest (and fastest) day of the shoot. Of course, this was assuming that this crew knew what the hell they were doing. If I’d remembered how inept (and in some cases, apathetic, judging by how the electric crew walked off by day’s end) these people were, I would’ve realized that there would be no way that they were even going to get the first shot done before lunch. We ended up wrapping at around 6:30 AM (and only because the sun was going up, so we couldn’t do night shots anymore). Of course, I didn’t get to leave until after 9:00, because I was an intern and that meant picking up the mounds of trash left all over the ground by the crew, the talent, and the 30 some-odd extras. (I even picked up a plastic shopping bag at one point before discovering that it was filled with urine.) By the end of the day, I was very close to walking off the shoot myself, until I got called to work craft service, which meant that I’d actually start getting paid.
By the end of the shoot, morale was so low that the only thing on everyone’s minds that last day was getting the shoot over with, getting everything back in the truck, and leaving treadmarks in the parking lot on our way out. We’d already lost one transportation crew, one electric crew, one grip crew, the craft service lady, the caterer, and our location scout because they either couldn’t handle the ineptitude or were dreadfully inept themselves. One of the PAs that had joined us during the tail end of the shoot (after the caterer left, so her primary duty was just to order and pick up breakfast and lunch each day) told me how in most cases, the crew is so excited about the movie they’re filming that everyone wants to be on set to see the big scenes. Not in this case – watching this thing was so brutal that I was doing everything I could to stay off the set. She summed it up best by saying, “This is a bunch of rich people making a movie.”
It should be noted at this point that these people are responsible for some of the most legendary turkeys in recent Hollywood memory. You remember Baby Geniuses? You have these guys to thank for that. Ghost Rider, considered by many to be the lowest-end of the superhero movies to have come out the last decade? You guessed it – Crystal Sky has their mitts on that one too. The writer/director’s last film was an over-the-top thriller called “The Legend of Simon Conjurer”, a movie so bad that the SAG forbade them from screening it for three years before Jon Voight (who’s part owner of the production company) did so anyway. If it hadn’t lasted only one screening, never to be seen again, you’d definitely be seeing it in the top 20 of IMDB’s 100 worst list.
I finally finished all of my duties yesterday by returning the coolers and tables to the caterer (who was unceremoniously booted two weeks before the end of the shoot, and was apprised of this fact on his last day, after he’d already gotten the food for the following week). It may be bad etiquette to rip a production company you’ve just finished working with about a movie that hasn’t been released yet, but after talking with quite a few people on set, I can guarantee you – I am not alone in these opinions.