Behind The Scenes

I always want to see how movies are made. That’s just me.

I still remember seeing my first “behind the scenes” or BTS footage from Ronin, a movie that starred Robert de Niro, Jean Nero, Sean Bean (he dies), Natasha McElhone and Stellan Skarsgard and I was hooked from then on. If you’ve never seen this gem of an action movie – it’s got one of the best, if not the best, chase scenes ever filmed – definitely check it out!

Original scene from the movie

Tribute to John Frankenheimer fan vid of the same chase scene

(Can I just say I took driving lessons from this movie – down to the bare-knuckled grip on the steering wheel! And the looks of fear on the actors are actually real as heck!)

Alright – where was I? I can’t believe how excited I got embedding those Ronin videos got me – guess it’s been awhile! Now back to the regularly schedule programming!

Anyway, I majored in journalism while in college, with a minor in film and so I’ve had my share of being behind the camera, which I love more than being in front of it. Working as an independent massage therapist in the last fifteen years got me jobs in movie studios and sets, and also during post-production work – settings that often were as varied as giving massages at the offices of producers and directors to set installations such as a “crack” house complete with their peeling wallpaper and boarded up windows and doors.

On location, it meant giving massages inside the actors’ trailers in between takes and to avoid rub-on transfers where their tattoos were painstakingly applied (you get quite creative) although most of the time the actor would just tell me to do what I needed to do. Make-up would touch it up later anyway.

So being on set was like seeing BTS footage, without having to buy the DVD.

For what I really like about BTS footage is that it shows us how the cast and crew really are when the cameras aren’t rolling, when there is no director to yell “Action” or “that’s a wrap!”. I love to see the electricians laying down the miles of wire, or the carpenters and painters doing their last minute touch ups to the set that even when viewed off-screen, look so real to the naked eye. No CGI needed.

These are the people who really make a movie happen. For every actor you see onscreen, there are probably at least about twenty people who’ve made his appearance onscreen possible, and to me, that’s what makes BTS footage so special. It’s the truth behind the illusion that we see, that even when I’ve bought the truth onscreen – hook, line, and sinker – there’s always that part of me who wants to see the man behind the curtain.

And speaking of BTS footage, my favorite has always been those featured on the Lord of the Rings full box set. It’s amazing how almost eight years later, I still remember every single one of those scenes – behind the scenes, that is – in addition to the movie scenes.

As of today, I’ve got a new favorite that ranks up there with LOTR and Ronin. And though it’s quite interesting to see how the mood of The Hobbit is quite different from that of LOTR, I’m definitely liking what I see so far.

Part 1

Part 2

This one is the footage that came with The Hobbit DVD from Best Buy. I got mine through Amazon so I get the footage that Peter Jackson already released last year. But that’s okay.

There’s still the extended boxed set coming up, and I’m definitely getting that when it comes out.

HOWEVER, not everyone is a fan of Behind the Scenes footage – like my hubby. He has become such a fan of Strike Back (Season 1) – at first, because of Andrew Lincoln (hubby is a HUGE The Walking Dead fan) – and then, begrudgingly, of Richard Armitage who is really good in it as John Porter, the SAS man with a conscience.

Hubby says that Strike Back is the perfect balance of an action series. Not too much action, not too much drama. Just right. Serious stuff. He can watch it again and again.

Then I showed him this:

Imagine you're sitting in a helicopter...
Imagine you’re sitting in a helicopter…

To say that hubby was quite disappointed is an understatement. “You just ruined the illusion for me!” He said.

Because that’s what movies really are, aren’t they? Perfectly crafted illusions.

Just don’t show the man behind the curtain. Or the platform with a piece of wood painted green made to look like the helicopter door…

But then I don’t know what hubby is complaining about. What door? All I see are…beautiful biceps. Yes, those are beautiful biceps you’ve got there, Mr. Armitage.

14 thoughts on “Behind The Scenes

  1. Interesting. Initially I was really bothered by the BTS stuff — like when the “b-rolls” became available, I watched one and then stopped. It really did ruin it for me. But now I love them. I think it’s because Armitage is mostly not out of character in them — he’s either being interviewed as himself, or he’s being Thorin. It’s the ones in between that bother me. And it’s not necessarily “bother” in the sense of, “now it’s ruined,” but they make me oddly uncomfortable. Can’t really explain it.

    1. I guess I’m just used to it after working on the movie sets where you see how the magic is made whether on location, in studio or post production with all the CGI. I feel like I’m like a fly on the wall during these things while I do what I’m supposed to do, and because the actors I work on are not in character during those moments when I do have time to work on them, I see them slip in and out of their characters like they’re just slipping one shirt for another.

      That’s why I shut “work me” off so that the “casual me” can actually enjoy a movie.

      But now that I think of it, I have never seen a movie that I have actually worked on. I may have seen scenes of it and when I do, I end up saying things like, “I remember where this was filmed. It was [here] or [there],” or I remember exactly where I was sitting or standing while the cameras were rolling, probably watching the clock because I would have rather not have been waiting around.

      1. I saw that TH had two massage therapists in the credits at the end. I want to say, wish you could have given Armitage a massage, and then realize that sounds kind of creepy. And especially not if it would have ruined the movie for you …

      2. Now that would be a misfortune for me not to have been able to enjoy TH at all.

        But if I did end up having worked on RA at all, it would have been before I’d ever seen him in any movies and then I would never have been able to work on him at all after having seen him (because of ethical reasons though I’d be loathe to abide by them). And that is sad.

        Better to have never worked on him at all 🙂

        But now you’ve got me intrigued with the creepy part!

      3. ethical reasons: b/c you’re not supposed to work on someone you’re attracted to?

        creepy just b/c I’m saying, “oh, I wish you’d had a chance to touch the body of my/our crush.” Also b/c I don’t know if you’d even want to do that. The pictures in my head … When I was in college we used to give friendly massages to our friends all the time — during finals and so on. Lie down on the dorm bed for fifteen minutes and massage — and then turn around. (And I don’t think unconfessed attraction would have stopped us.) But formally giving someone a massage seems really different.

      4. And you’re right about that. If I’d met him professionally before I’d seen him in anything, he’d be just another gorgeous actor guy on the massage table that I happen to have as a client. But once he’d become an infatuation or a crush, the dynamic would change. And I’ve seen that happen in my 15-year practice twice.

        The first was with a cellist whom I met before he became very successful in movies and started calling me after hours to talk about personal stuff after he became successful (and in my eyes, even more sexier than ever before because of success – maybe – but he was gorgeous, nonetheless). The second was an actor who was not exactly a “jobbing” actor when I met him first, but then became pretty famous – and is still is. All of a sudden, he became this gorgeous god who’d walk into my office and I couldn’t understand why my mind “bought” the illusion I had seen on screen. Those professional relationships ended right away though I hated having to end them.

        And oh, a third one! This one was a police man who invited me for a ride-along so I could see what havoc his work belt caused his back (because it’s hard to believe that those belts weigh almost 50 pounds and they have to sit on bucket seats still wearing those things). This night, which he thought was going to be a quiet night, became one of the most dangerous nights ever and even he admitted that but couldn’t drive me back to the station. And you have to sign your life away, btw, before you get into that car. All of a sudden, it was like my life was in his hands for the next five hours straight. There were moments when he actually had the loaded gun in his hand as we drove through a dangerous situation between two rival gangs and that evening, I learned first hand how TMJ syndrome felt. I went home a mess, and all of a sudden, for some unknown reason I could not figure out, in love with my “savior”. Weird, I know.

        But it gave me insight on how fear, among other emotions, plays tricks on the mind and the heart. And so now, in my practice, I bail out before things get too hot. Because I know that it’s not just “in my head”. It really is there.

      5. It’s logical. I had that happen once with a student whose research I was supervising and thus ended up traveling with. It’s really easy for professional dynamics to change on trips. Luckily, he found a girlfriend (more appropriate than I would have been, lol) almost immediately afterwards, and that sort of flipped the switch for me, but I’d have had to step back if I couldn’t have figured out how to dampen it.

        And I assume you’d also do that if you discovered that you despised someone you were treating.

      6. True. I could never work on someone I despised.

        I’ve “fired” two clients not because I despised them but because I was not a “good fit” for them or their needs. At least that’s what I tell them when I let them go…

      7. That must not always be the easiest thing …

        My therapist, when I moved away, said to me, “thanks for always being willing to work hard during therapy.” I said “thanks,” with a little bemusement. And then I said, “well, I’m not whining, but this was a real stretch for me financially and it wouldn’t have made sense to waste the time.” She said, “not for you.” And I thought, oh, yeah. She has a life to finance, too. She probably treats a lot of people she doesn’t find so interesting …

        And then there are the people who are so problematic that they probably have a terrible time finding professionals who will stick with them …

        wow, this is kind of a fascinating world we’re spinning here.

      8. And I think that’s why I’ll never be rich in this business, because I let people go when I’m not a “good fit” for their needs 🙂

        I know a few massage therapists who’ve left the field to become psychotherapists themselves. Maybe that’s why some clients call me “Dr. V” 🙂

  2. Love the BTS – they are my only reason for buying the film on DVD when I could just wait for it on Netflix. I actually enjoy getting the illusion ruined – I like to see how things are constructed. But then again, my own profession has that smoke and mirrors aspect to it, too, and so I almost look at a BTS with professional curiosity: Where was the camera in that shot? Is that filmed on location or in studio?
    Interesting question that has been raised not in the post itself, but in the comments: ethical conflict between professional self and (over-involved) personal self. That’s a really hard one, and I admire your stand of integrity on that! I am trying to figure out whether I could forgo the pleasure of getting RA in front of my camera because of the knowledge that I am biased to the extent of idolising. Nah – I’d completely throw all ethics to the wind *ggg*

    1. LOL I would so not let the opportunity pass me by as a photographer to work on someone I admired 🙂 and I think some sort of admiration is required to take such great photographs of someone. I always think a photographer has to be “in love” with his/her subject to some degree. For a massage therapist however, it’s a whole different story to be “in love” with your client. That definitely crosses boundaries and in my case, I become a tittering, tottering idiot barely able to form a coherent thought beyond the endless giggle – probably before passing out – and I suspect this would be me around Mr. A.

      1. Tricky one, morrigansmuse. In a way, I think, you need to “connect” with any client in any field in order to deliver a truly valuable service. I can see, however, how it might impede on *your* specific line of work if you had strong feelings for the client. After all you are touching them. In my work, that would not be required as much (although a good photographer *will* actually touch their clients by literally moving them into the shot and showing them how to pose – the human touch establishes the (working) relationship in a particular way that can be very conducive to the desired outcome of the shoot. I actually make a point of touching my clients when I do a portrait session. Jeeeez, that makes me sound weird, if not perverted…). In my case, however, the resulting shakes would probably also impede my ability to hold the camera steady and take a shot. But that’s what we have tripods for *evillaugh*

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