January 12, 2013 by Doug Coutts
When I was a young floor manager back in the days when the State Broadcaster was actually in the business of making television programmes, I used to dream about working on the Muppets. Not because it was a great programme; I just liked the idea that if an actor got troublesome you could stuff it back in the box and get another one. We weren’t allowed to do that on Close to Home – there were rules. And the box wasn’t big enough. (Plus it smelt of amyl nitrite.)
The problem with actors is they think they’re the most important. I don’t know why – someone tells them what to wear, someone else combs their hair, yet another person gives them a printed list of what words to say and then someone, usually with an even more inflated sense of self, tells them where to stand and when to walk. It’s the simplest job on the set, yet they create the most fuss. It’s much easier indeed to use puppets.
Or animation. You don’t even have to dryclean animated characters; you just make sure the ink’s dry before you send them on their journey of redemption.
Of course there’s a downside. I know this not from working in the movies, but reading the credits. On your standard Pixar animated feature there are approximately 7 gazillion names, including seventeen eyebrow artists, whereas your typical live action feature credits list runs to 120, of which half are interns. (Why they need so many doctors I’ve never been able to understand.)
Film technicians are generally horrible people. Though not as bad as actors, they still have an insufferable arrogance about them, smell strongly of cigarettes and cheap beer, and wear those silly Sherpa hats. But at least they’re not computer geeks.
Practically everyone on the crew of an animated feature these days is a computer geek. They make little eye contact, eat pizza and drink Pepsi, and wear Captain Scarlet t-shirts. And they’re everywhere.
So, which are worse – uppity actors or five floors of boffins? Fortunately it not a choice I’m ever likely to have to make. Especially if anyone reads this.