Okay, I just witnessed two media majors argue over Beauty and the Beast and it was glorious.
In our Mass Communications class, our teacher was telling us that Beauty and the Beast was once again a high-grossing movie for the previous week, and asked how many people had seen it. All of the girls’ hands, including mine, shot straight up and one girl sitting in front of me says it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. Another girl, sitting in the very front, responds with a nonchalant “I thought it was decent.”
“Wait, what did you say?”
“I said I thought it was decent.”
There’s a slight pause before the first girl says “Okay,” very stiffly.
There’s silence for five full seconds. Finally the second girl whirls around and says “Alright, listen. I used to be in Film Production, and…”
I don’t really remember what was said after that, mainly because I was laughing too much, but I do remember that the second girl brought up a few points that I acknowledged, and it ended at a kinda sorta stalemate.
Later, however, the topic of the PR at our Opera House came up, and our teacher asked that if we could do anything, what would we do to introduce opera to people who don’t know that much about it, and I whispered “Put an opera star character in a high-grossing film,” and one person turned around and grinned at me and it felt awesome.
Just had a meeting with a Director of Photography at a Starbucks for a job only to have it get interrupted partway through by a dude who yelled out that he had to pour an iced latte on himself for a bet he lost with his YouTube subscribers and promptly did just that.
My bemused expression was caught on Go Pro by said YouTube star’s friend.
The setting is deep in the “backyard” of a ranch location out in the motherfucking nowhere land of the hill country. It’s about as Texas as you can imagine. Prickly plants. Cows. Confederate flags. Dudes with guns. Dirt roads. Bad cell reception. Terrible studded designer jeans bought at the dollar store. This “backyard” is a 20 minute van drive from basecamp, which is at the main house next door. Walkies barely reach. Cellphones are in and out. The quickest way through was in a land rover through a very dangerous path through the woods.
The set itself is a beautiful dreamy little pond buried in clay cliffs decorated with cedar trees. The sun creates a golden glow at certain points in the day. Perfect for the camera. The rest of us, however…
At first, no bathrooms except back at basecamp (20 minutes from set) (they later got portas delievered).Food on the set, like crafty, was difficult because the fields near the pond were infested with bees. Like, actually infested. Not an understatement. Figuring out where to eat lunch everyday was a misery. If an emergency happened, we were in the middle of nowhere. Basecamp could barely hear us and there were only two vans making trips so if you didn’t get on the van, it could be 40 minutes until you’re back on set. Not only that, the neighbors were weird about the road the worktrucks were parked on and one guy got in our faces with a video camera threatening us.
As a result, this beautiful set cost us a LOT of shots. Like a LOT.
One more example. Dallas, 2016. The set is in a beautiful floor to ceiling plate glass 6th floor high rise, overpriced apartment in uptown. Full cinematic views of downtown Dallas. Tenants of the building did not want us there. The building restricted our abilities to get equipment in quickly by eliminating the elevators we could use and the entrances we could use. Loading was too steep for the trucks so they had to park in an alley nearby. We had constant supervision and constant complaints, including yet another guy threatening us (this time physically). We couldn’t talk normally in the halls, we couldn’t park near the building, and we had to lay down layout board on carpets designed for high density traffic and heavy loads. Again lost a lot of time and shots didn’t work.
When we plan production, we spend a lot of time on blocking and the script and what camera to use and lighting and casting. We discuss costume design and what crew to bring in. But we often skip one of the most important parts of the filmmaking process: seriously weighing the pros and cons of our locations. On indie films, our budgets are limited and we try to have producers or directors do the jobs of production managers and location managers. This is not good. Directors & producers should not be in charge of locations.
ONCE MORE FOR THE KIDS IN THE BACK:
DIRECTORS & PRODUCERS SHOULD NOT BE IN CHARGE OF LOCATIONS.
In 1913, the Universal Company purchased 12,000 acres of land in the San Fernando Valley near the railroad station of Lankershim and about eight miles from Los Angeles.
Universal City celebrated its grand opening on March 15, 1915. Something like 20,000 members of the public responded to studio head Carl Laemmle’s invitation to visit his new studio at the north end of Cahuenga Pass that day to check out the fancy administration building, open air stages and bleachers on which, until the advent of sound filmmaking a decade later, they were welcome to come back and watch real movies getting made.
Crowds are seen gathered on hillside and below in autos to watch the Opening Day ceremonies of Universal City on March 15, 1915. Smoke fills the sky most likely from cannon fire or fireworks.
Carl Laemmle invited members of the public to watch films being made (in exchange for a 25 cents admission fee). A chicken lunch box was also available for a nickel; the first step towards the Universal Studios theme park we know today.
Guests sat in outdoor bleachers and were encouraged to cheer for the heroes and boo the villains! The advent of sound meant the end of the early Universal Studio tour (as the noise the visitors made now disrupted filming) and Universal closed its gates to the general public. Three decades would pass before the studio gates would open again.
In 1961, Universal decided to once again open up the studio gates, but this time guests toured the lots by bus. The cumbersome and noisy busses, ill-suited for discreet travel through the busy lots, were swapped out for trams in 1964. This was the year the tour officially became known as the Universal Studio Tour. For only $6.50, two adults and a child could peek into the behind-the-scenes world of one of Hollywood’s most famous studios; and if they were lucky, catch sight of star.