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Old 08-10-2020, 07:10 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 219
Default I'm looking over a Boom Shadow...

Here’s a FQ that became an EP (entire post).
cd1515 asks:

You said this about retakes: “The director needs additional coverage, new lines are inserted, actors slip up, there’s a boom shadow, a camera missed a cue to move, an actor is off his mark, etc.”

Serious question from someone not in your business: how many of those things would the average viewer have even noticed or given a **** about?

Sometimes I think TV and movies are too perfect in that no one in real life ever makes a perfect impromptu speech (See: any Sorkin project) without pausing, stumbling over a word, repeating something, etc.

I get that you all want it be as good as possible but is that always completely necessary?

Could some of it just be inside baseball stuff that no one else would see?

The answer is: you’re absolutely right. 99% of the audience wouldn’t notice a boom shadow or a hair out of place.

You try to avoid those things and not look sloppy, but most imperfections go unnoticed.

James Burrows is TV’s best multi-camera director. Period. He’s always way more interested in the performance than the pretty shot. And if an actor gives a great performance on a take but the shot isn’t framed perfectly, he’ll opt for that one over the re-take where the shot was perfect but the performance wasn’t as good. And I agree. My job as a director is to get the best possible performance on film, not the best Terrence Malick cinematic feat.

Normally, when you direct a multi-cam (in front of a live audience), after a scene you say “cut” and reset the cameras for any pick ups or additional coverage. Invariably, the minute I say “cut” make up people rush out to touch up the actors for five or ten minutes and someone with a ladder is checking some lights. This happens every single time.

So I stopped saying “cut.” I would say “still rolling,” run out and tell the camera guys where I wanted them to be, told the actors what I wanted in this take, ran back, said “action,” and did the pick up on the fly. Had I not done that the ladder and make up kits would be on the set for five or ten minutes. And those add up over the course of a night.

No one ever noticed if a forehead was shiny. Line producers would say I was wasting film (these were the days when we shot on film), and I said “what’s the cost of unused film versus paying everyone on the crew overtime because the showrunner wants these additional shots?” Line producers then thanked me.

Matching is another issue. You try hard for continuity, but sometimes you get trapped. The level of wine in a glass varies from take to take. Your choice is either keep one performance so the wine level is uniform, or stitch together the best performances and the wine level goes up and down. You can guess what my choice is.

There are classic glitches in TV shows and movies. There’s a shot in SPARTACUS by the great Stanley Kubrick where you see part of the Ventura Freeway in a shot. (Above photo is Kubrick filming that movie on the Universal lot.)

In our first MASH episode, “Out of Sight/ Out of Mind” in the final scene in the nurses’ tent one of the nurses is reading a paperback. Clearly you can see she was reading JAWS, which came out long after 1951. How many times have you seen that episode? Have you ever noticed that?

Hollywood craftsmen take great pride in their work, and the level of dedication and detail is extraordinary. These people are the best in the world! I always maintain that crews don’t get nearly the credit they deserve. And it’s admirable that each department wants his or her contribution to be perfect. But the truth is, you can get away with a boom shadow once in awhile.

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