Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Game Of Flubs

Peter muses over at his blog that the rogue Starbuck's cup seen in one scene must have been a deliberate plant, because Hollywood craftsmanship and duplicity.

I don't watch the series in question, and other than being aware of its mere existence, could care no less for it were it filmed on Mars, and broadcast only on cable access in Farsi and Serbo-Croatian. But I do know a thing or three about The Biz, firsthand.

Keep in mind that "Hollywood craftsmanship" is an oxymoron on a par with "military intelligence", "government help", and "jumbo shrimp".

Allow me to elucidate.

Bear in mind I've only done 20-something years in Hollywood.
You could strafe every movie lot in Hollywood with miniguns, for days, and never, ever hit anyone smart enough to earn a Ph.D.

Then remember the stupidest things these geniuses say and do when they put on their 0-diopter glasses to "look intelligent", and bear in mind this is when they're trying to look bright.

Now imagine them on the set, in hour 14 of a 16-hour day, amidst an 80-hour week, on take 9 of a complicated scene, on a set teeming with extras pulling down minimum wage and a bologna sandwich.

The miracle isn't that there was a Starbuck's cup in a shot; it's that there isn't one in every shot.

Go back and watch Twister sometime: in the opening sweeping shot after the flashback, as the camera zooms across the fields of Oklahoma to Bill Paxton's truck, and notice that right on the front quarter panel, you see a beautiful full reflection of a Bell JetRanger, with the cameraman hanging out the door filming the scene.
In a movie directed by a well-acclaimed former director of photography.

Watch Pretty Woman, in the scene where Richard Gere and Julia Roberts are meeting Ralph Bellamy for dinner, and watch the sorbet cups appear, disappear, reappear, magically refill, disappear, then come back again.

And a million other goofs, flubs, and such.

I might even know of an incident where a raccoon tail was shoved up the nostril of a moose head on set, and no one noticed until they'd moved on, and saw it in the background of several shots during dailies the next day, and it was too late to re-shoot the scene, so it's in the final cut, but I ain't saying anything more about it. Maybe the moose snorted a raccoon.

In the silent version of Ben Hur, they ran over an extra with a chariot. Killed him deader than canned tuna.

In Last Of The Mohicans, one of the special-ability extras firing a black powder musket fired a ramrod into another actor. The target actor survived, after they pulled three feet of steel out of his body.

In Twilight Zone: The Movie the entire production staff conspired to set off explosives under a low-hovering helicopter, lied to the parents of the kids in the scene and the fire marshals watching the stunt, then lied their asses off in court, after they'd killed Vic Morrow and two kids.

The producers were on planes to Acapulco within a half an hour, out of subpoena range and unable to be extradited, until the movie wrapped.
And nobody went to prison for three counts of manslaughter.

This is Hollywood, 24/7/365.
Better than your family home movies? Certainly.
Safer than the drunk redneck who says "Hold my beer!"? Most days, but not by much.
Flawless production geniuses?

My sides are splitting.

And BTW, nobody gets fired for something like this.
They get thanked at the end of the day, and the next day, their name isn't on the call sheet anymore.
It's called "employment at will".
(If it was talent, their pay gets docked for the cost of the digital removal. And they get a rep with the entire production crew as dumbasses, and they're watched like a hawk watches prey, lest they screw up another shot. Ask me how I know.)

Stars and directors have died during productions, and they worked around that.
No one on set is irreplaceable.

The Starbuck's cup?
Small potatoes.
You have no idea about even 1% of what goes on.

We will say no more at all about something which, to engineer and pull off, would require the complicity, acquiescence, and conspirational silence of about 500 lawyers from both HBO and Starbucks, which is only slightly less probable than Bigfoot, chemtrails, and the faking of the lunar landings.

If that last sentence gored your ox too, your tinfoil hat is wrapped way too tight to comment on my blog.
Stifle that urge.


Adam said...

Forget the coffee cup. How are we expected to believe that she is a real blonde when she has those dark eyebrows that look heavier than a U-boat stuffed with plutonium? That's the real scandal here.

Anonymous said...

A favorite of mine is from The Stuntman with Peter O'Toole as the Director and Steve Railsback (?) as a fugitive hiding amongst the crew " How tall was King Kong? "
I loves me some movies but have few illusions left about those who make them. Older brother worked for Panavision for many years.
I don't CARE if she's a "real blonde" or not. It's a MOVIE.
Boat Guy

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Or was it intentional to generate buzz? I hear people are complaining about the quality of entertainment in the final season.

Anonymous said...

Hey, at least the Starbuck's cup didn't get anybody killed or hurt.

Roger Ritter said...

There was one spaghetti Western (I don't remember which - maybe one in the "Trinity" series?) where two guys are fighting and tumbling down a hill. As the camera follows them down the hill, the angle gets a little too high and in the far background you can see a modern industrial plant surrounded by a parking lot full of cars.

Anonymous said...

Indiana Jones facing off against the cobra down in the snake pit. You can see the cobra's reflection off the glass barrier.

Anonymous said...

There's only one way to tell if she's a real blonde or not.
I'd volunteer, but female unit would run me over with the truck. Twice, just to be sure.

I put this entire f-up down to the state of employeedom in today's world. they're all fuckin useless.

Borepatch said...

Years and years back when I was even nerdier than I am now, I had a book titled "The Nitpicker's Guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation" which broke each episode down by these sorts of fails. I always loved the continuity blunders.

Mad Jack said...

I don't own a tinfoil hat, but I'm posting anyway. I really enjoyed reading your post; you've a way with words. Now I want a few more stories. They don't have to be over the top (like what really happened to Vic Morrow) but, you know, in the neighborhood.

Aesop said...

@Mad Jack,
Not until I have my retiree gold card from I.A.T.S.E.

Shrimp said...

Can you at least tell us the name of the movie (with the moose head)? Maybe the genre...?

Aesop said...

It was ostensibly a comedy.

Anonymous said...

I worked in that business myself for better than 15 years, on plenty of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters everyone here would recognize. The "continuity problems" are legion, but virtually all of them are just screw-ups where no one noticed that the cup was still on the table after the break between "CUT!" and the "Back to one!" call. IT happens All The Time. Usually they're just lucky that the cup is deep background, and that frankly, very, very few people notice it on the first viewing. Just like you don't notice your own written screw-ups until the editor points it out to you... or worse yet, a reader does after they plunked down hard cash for your book.

Anyway, as our Host here suggests, shit happens on sets, it just mostly doesn't make it to the final cut, or else no one cares/notices when they do see it.

Light Dragoon