It’s Only a Movie…

“Write about what you know” they say, but what about filming what you know? Films about film crews might seem like a bit of an easy option, but they are often very revealing. A film crew is a bit like a family – with all the potential to be a disfunctional one! – but also a force of nature, bowling down everything in its path to arrive at that perfect 5 seconds of footage and get it all in on time and under budget.

There have been some great explorations of the film making process, from script writing (“Sunset Boulevard”, “Barton Fink”) through production (“8 1/2”, “The Player”, “Singin’ in the Rain”) to post-production (“Berberian Sound System”) – not to mention the various off stage dramas in the lives of the cast.

imagesBut there are a few classic depictions of the film crew itself – Truffaut’s “Day for Night” (1973) and Tom diCillo’s wonderful “Living in Oblivion” which strips away any illusion of glamour from the low budget indie-movie making process. Fassbinder’s “Beware a Holy Whore” (1971) is not so well known but also wince-making in its merciless depiction of the “what could possibly go wrong” potential of a movie shoot when the director loses the plot.

Films about film making also include: F for Fake; Man with a Movie Camera; Close-Up; Two Weeks in Another Town; Camera Buff; The Bad and the Beautiful; Ed Wood; Peeping Tom; Inland Empire / Mulholland Drive; The Last Movie; Adaptation (which we’ll be showing in October) … despite all the tensions and traumas of its production, film is a medium in love with itself and its process.

Quite interesting too that a lot of these films are by actor/directors, or directors who are comfortable appearing in front of the camera. So they really know what they are talking about…

Most recently we had Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning “Argo” as a film about a (fake) film crew – and the film we’re screening this weekend, “Even the Rain” by Iciar Bollain, which shows what happens when a period drama shoot on location runs into real-life civic unrest and war. Suddenly the crews’ personal dramas become dwarfed by the political situation as it rapidly turns into a crisis. How do the film makers cope with this? See the film to find out!

It’s on at the Sheffield Green Fair, Saturday 13th July, doors 6 30pm for 7pm. See you then…

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike Atkins says:

    A can of worms opening up there. La nuit Americaine for the Cole/Porter number amongst my favourites as a film and a director out of the ones you mention. I had to wrack my brain and IMDB to remember the title of one that deserves a mention for making a decent fist of the periphery of a huge classic. I found “Under the Rainbow” packed a lot in and barely mentioned the two films of 1939 that dominated box office. I am still in Documentary mode at the moment and there are a few good ones with Hamster Factor and Lost in La Mancha about two terry Gilliam projects – only one reached completion, so the travails of film making are hard to overcome. Lots of making of… docs are just padding to flog a cinema ticket but these two are treats in themselves. I’ll just finish with an honourable mention to White Hunter Black Heart. This also is based around a real movie that was a classic, but tells a not too unreal story of megalomania in the role of the director – all forgiven and forgotten when the goods (African Queen) are finally delivered.

  2. A can of 35mm worms even?
    Never saw The Hamster Factor, always wanted to. “Under the Rainbow” is a new one to us too, but will investigate!
    As for WH,BH – yes, that’s an interesting one. I knew Danny at film school, which added another dimension to seeing that movie when it came out…
    And of course if we’re talking megalomaniac directors, mustn’t forget “Burden Of Dreams” which, in terms of magnificent obsession, is possibly the daddy of them all!

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