Every once in a while, when I’m delivering stuff to set, the crew starts rolling before I get off the stage, and I’m stuck until the end of the take (or takes). Yesterday was one of those times.
With nothing to better to do, I watched the monitor. After the fourth or fifth “Going again!”, I stopped paying attention to the actors, and noticed the moon on the translight looked kinda fake. I went over to the 2nd AD and asked if that was due to the quality of the video tap, or if it would look that fake at home.
He shrugged. “If the audience notices the backdrop, there’s something seriously wrong with the scene.”
There’s a an old canard you’ll hear on any set when something goes wrong– “We’ll fix it in post.” Usually, they’re just kidding, like muttering, ”Yeah, but last time I didn’t receive a piece. I could set the building on fire,” at someone’s office birthday party.
But when someone claims, “If they notice X, we’ve got bigger problems,” they really mean it. They’re saying, in effect, “Shut up, and let’s move on.”
Of course, it’s impossible to make a movie without any goofs, gaffs, or screw ups, and it is often a judgment call whether a technical error is egregious enough to destroy the suspension of disbelief.
But I hear this excuse a lot. I think it puts too much pressure on the actors and script, and doesn’t fully recognize the crew’s role in creating a world for characters and story to exist in. If we can see that that world is made of papier-mâché and chewing gum, it doesn’t really matter how good the actors are.
I like to use the phrase as a barometer for the quality of show I’m on. You’ll hear it employed far more frequently on a shitty straight-to-DVD movie than on a major scripted network show. Thankfully, this was the first time I’d heard it on this show.