Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Thursday Movie Picks Meme: Movies About Making Movies

This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is self-reflexive, or more accurately, films about the process of making films. There are lots of great things that one can depict on film to create drama or humor, but why bother with all that when the process itself is filled with enough potential for compelling narratives? You can create humor out of the challenges faced by a film crew on set or drama in the relationships between individuals, perhaps the director and the actors or the producer and the studio executives. In any case, movies about making movies can be very interesting... most of the time anyway. So for this list, I naturally had to take part, especially since I was the one who suggested the topic.

Now the process of making a movie is generally split up into three specific phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production consists of all the preparations that have to be made before filming can begin; things like getting money, hiring cast and crew, script revisions, assembling sets, costume design, and so forth. Production is what most people imagine when they think of making a movie, as that's the phase where all the necessary shooting happens. Finally, post-production is when the footage obtained in the production phase is edited to create the final product; scenes are strung together, digital effects are added, choices are made about what does and does not fit into the final product. For the purposes of this activity, I have chosen three unusual films with each covering a different production phase. Let's begin:

Silent Movie (1976)- Pre-Production

Before you can make a movie, you must first pitch it to a someone with money, as Mel Brooks does here with his SILENT MOVIE! The financially deprived Studio Chief does not initially like this idea... until Mel decides to get together the biggest stars in Hollywood. What follows is a series of hilarious slapstick shenanigans as he and his friends come up with bizarre methods of confronting the various celebrities that include having lunch with James Caan in an unbalanced trailer, approaching Liza Minelli in suits of armor, and a motorized wheelchair chase involving Paul Newman. The best part? It's not just a movie about a director trying to make a silent movie. It's a silent movie about a director trying to make a silent movie.

Inland Empire (2005)- Production

Inland Empire is now officially the first movie to make it into two of my entries for Thursday Movie Picks Meme. As you can expect with David Lynch he presents a very dark and surreal experience of the filmmaking process, with the focus being primarily on the lead actress who gradually starts to break down under the stress of a demanding role. That's a simple summary and a fairly straight forward interpretation but she goes through some very strange and bizarre experiences that will question her hold on reality before she she can finish the movie.

Singin' In the Rain (1951)- Post-Production

This also ties into a bit of film history as Singin' in the Rain takes place right at the point where silent cinema became obsolete and "talking pictures" started to take over, which unfortunately means that a silent picture hastily turned into a talkie at the last minute ends up being a mess. That is until one of some of the people involved get together and decide to re-edit it into a musical and have an upcoming actress dub over the horrible voicework of the original star. Most of the story centers around the protagonists trying to re-edit the horrible movie into a half-decent musical with an upcoming actress dubbing over the annoying voice of the obnoxious female lead.


  1. The one of these I've seen is Singin' in the Rain. It's still one of the best musicals ever made. Outstanding choice, there. Growing up, I had no interest in Silent Movie. At some point, I just forgot about it. I do want to check it out, at some point.

    1. I'm not normally a fan of musicals, but Singin' in the Rain is still a great movie. If it's any consolation I was bit nervous at first before I saw Silent Movie, but it really is a lot of fun (if a bit unconventionally).

  2. Singing In the Rain is brilliant because they show actual things that did happen like the box the director and cameraman had to be in, picking up the heart beat of the players, Hollywood grande dame's with a Brooklyn accent or just a bad voice (Jean Hagen should have won an Oscar). I love Silent Movie and have not seen it in years but I laughed out loud which I do for most of Mel Brooks films. I would have also chosen Ed Wood and Bowfinger. Ed Wood is a true homage to that terrible director and Bowfinger is just a great send up and so well done (especially the send up of scientology)

    1. I've never actually seen Ed Wood, though I probably should at some point, but I'm not sure it would have fit with what I was going for since I wanted to cover each of the production phases for this one.

      The other good movie I considered was Living in Oblivion, which would have been a great choice for production but I was worried it would be too obvious and someone else would put it on their list.

    2. I highly recommend you seeing Ed Wood. It's probably the finest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collabo. It would probably have fit the theme you have going here, too. It mostly covers the making of Plan 9 from Outer Space.