20 Awesome Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Moviemaking
Filmmaking is a mix of outstanding tips and tricks.
Today Bright Side will tell you some movie secrets that few people know about. Once you know them, you’ll want to watch the movies all over again with fresh eyes.
- Background actors make most movie and TV scenes complete and more realistic. You’ll see them talk in a quick and nonchalant manner. But what you see as "talking" is simply mouth-opening with no sounds. Every sound made during filming will be recorded by powerful microphones. That is why background extras are professionals at mouthing fake conversations, laughing silently, and avoiding eye contact with the camera.
- When it’s time for sound design, any material can come in handy. For example, the squeaky bellowing roars of the Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings is just a couple of plastic cups scraping a glass. Sound directors really love using vegetables to create horror movie noises. A cringe-worthy sound that seems to represent the real thing is actually made by snapping vegetables. Cracked carrots and torn leafy greens sound just like bones breaking. Take a look for yourself.
- Very often the director and his crew shoot a lot of raw film material, but not all the scenes make it to the final cut. That’s why there is often an extended version of a movie that comes closer to showing the audience the director’s true vision, elevating the original to new heights. The director’s cut of The Lord of the Rings was almost 3 hours longer than the original.
- The extended version of Titanic is almost 5 hours long. There are scenes that are actually important to the plot and character development. For example, Captain Smith commanded the boatmen to come back and get more people from the sinking ship. And there is, of course, the alternative ending that can change the whole aftertaste. You can watch it here.
- We have all seen the wondrous green screen that is used in filmmaking. It’s called a chroma key. The magic of the green screen is created with computer-generated special effects that separate the actor from the green screen and add any backgrounds. Actually, the screens could be any color, but blue and green are used most because they create a deeper contrast with human skin. Take a look at the amusing chroma key used in the famous Game of Thrones video.
- How do they get a child to perform in horror movies? That’s a tricky question. Everything that is going on in the scene is presented to a child as a game. Sometimes they are asked to run around with a doll, spill a glass of red juice, talk to a man, etc. In most cases, the child doesn’t know that they are taking part in a horror movie. There is nothing scary on the movie set. Postproduction and sound effects usually make it scary. For example, Danny Lloyd from The Shining only found out that he was in the movie when he turned 16 and saw it for himself.
- Iconic movie sets, like grand castles and impressive cities of the future, are not always computer effects. Sometimes they’re a bit smaller than you might expect. So-called "bigatures" are big models of places. Take a close look at the famous bigatures from well-known movies in our recent article.
- Intimate scenes are the most complicated to shoot, especially for the actors. That’s why directors prefer to film them last, when the actors have had time to get to know each other. They rehearse the scene many times in clothes, minimizing the number of people on the set. But sometimes the understudies are invited, as in Antichrist, directed by Lars von Trier.
- Scenes with an actor facing a mirror or reflective objects are tricky to film. But there are secrets. For example, the camera must be at a special angle so as not to reflect in the mirror behind the actor. In this case, the actor would look into the camera’s reflection, giving the impression that he is looking at himself in the mirror. James Cameron came up with an interesting idea in Terminator: Schwarzenegger and Linda’s twin sat on the far side facing the camera, and the understudy and Linda sat with their backs to the camera. If you didn’t know, you’d never guess!
- Characters eat, actors don’t. Just think about multiple takes of one scene: the actors would be stuffed! Especially when it’s not a snack but an actual dinner according to the script. That is why they usually bite and chew food on camera but never swallow it.
- If a character needs to vomit, a special bag with porridge or spaghetti is attached to the actor’s neck. To activate the "vomit," they squeeze the bag.
- Actors can wear the same costumes in different movies. We can see the same outfit in Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hunger Games, Iron Man, and so on. Costume designers are some of the most creative people on set. The chief costume designer for Game of Thrones revealed that she used IKEA floor rugs to make the clothes for the Night Watch members. The rugs perfectly resembled matted animal fur. IKEA didn’t take long to respond.
- Actors don’t smoke real cigarettes on set because they wouldn’t last long enough. They usually imitate smoking or use herbal cigarettes. Sometimes actors get into character too much. For example, on the set of The Evil Dead, the cast smoked marijuana just as their characters did. As a result, they couldn’t film at all.
- If you watch a scene with a night ride, take a look at the road. Most likely it will be wet because a damp surface creates a better contrast and reflects more light.
- Gloomy clouds above the city are made with the "Сloud Tank" machine that injects milk or paint into a water tank. An alien flying craft can easily be replaced by a Frisbee. We suggest watching movies that use these techniques — they are really fascinating!
Many things are not what we thought they were:
- Cocaine — powdered milk, vitamins, or sugar powder.
- Blood — corn syrup with food coloring.
- Glass — sugar glass or thin plastic.
- Beer — apple juice.
- Strong alcohol — vinegar.
- Ice in a glass — gelatin.
- Sweat — rose water or glycerin.
- And one more important note: the secret of a movie’s success is total secrecy about visual effects until its release. That is why all gadgets and cameras are banned on the set. Anyone who violates this rule can be fired or shut out, like the girl who posted on her social media profile the process of shooting on the set of Divergent. Filmmaking is a long and complicated process, and the whole team works hard for one purpose: to create a work of art.
Preview photo credit Medusa Film