Let the Credits Roll: Interviews with Film Crews

By Stempel, Tom | Film & History, July 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Let the Credits Roll: Interviews with Film Crews


Stempel, Tom, Film & History


Barbara Baker. Let The Credits Roll: Interviews with Film Crews. McFarland, 20O3. 251 pages; $38.5O.

Heavy Labor

The late Pauline Kael, thwacking Dr. Zhivago about the head and shoulders, wrote that "It's not art, it's heavy labor." You know what she meant, but like most critics and film historians, she was clueless about the heavy labor that goes into the making of any movie, let alone a big-budget epic. With the arrival of the voluminous additional materials on DVD's, we may be getting a better idea of the work involved, but there is still a feeling that in film art the director waves his magic wand, and it suddenly all works. Needless to say, directors love this version of how movies get made. Critics and historians, on the other hand, should be more skeptical.

To help those skeptics, Barbara Baker, who spent several years casting extras for Central Casting Ltd., London, has put together Let the Credits Roll, a collection of interviews with a delightfully odd selection of people who do the heavy labor. There have been books that tell us about some of the betterknown specific crafts and the process of filmmaking, but Baker gets from her subjects a sense of not only their usual and often unusual jobs, but the lives that go with them. There are, among the 33 people Baker interviewed, a Special Effects Dental Technician, a Boom Operator, a Foley Artist, a Greensperson, and of course a Mouth/Beak Replacement Coordinator.

Chris Lyons is the Special Effects Dental Technician, who begins his comments with, "We find vampires boring. But we can make sexy vampires, or horrible ones." A boom operator has an apparently simple job: hold the boom with the microphone over the actors' heads and keep it out of the frame and out of the lights. Easy enough if the camera and the actors are not moving, but John Gutierrez describes what can only be called the dances he has to do in complicated shoots. Denise Greaves, the Foley Artist (she does sound effects, particularly footsteps), actually was a dancer, as were most of the other Foley artists she knows. A Greensperson handles the plants, leaves, flowers, etc., and Will Scheck tells you that all that fall foliage in Far From Heaven did not happen by accident or by nature. James Moore, the Mouth/Beak Replacement Coordinator on Aardman's Chicken Run, kept track of all the different beaks (one for each sound) for the clay chickens. …

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