crew Indies don't do dirt

Watching an uncurated selection of shorts and not-so-short indie productions recently, and some not-so-Indie productions too, I found myself frequently distracted by the unrealistic cleanliness of many characters, who'd just been dragged through mud, vegetation, sewers, or almost any other kind of dirt explosion. I was wondering how such a "simple" and ubiquitous part of everyday life doesn't seem to find its way into a convincing on-screen appearance when a link from this site to The 5 People Filmmakers Need for a Tiny Skeleton Crew had me thinking that maybe it's taking short-cuts with Hair&Make-up that's the problem.

Looking for an appropriate section on this site in which to post this random musing, there doesn't seem to be one. Is Hair&Make-up one of the cinematography crafts that regularly gets shunted into the "would be nice if we had the budget" corner?
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I agree 100%! And even when they haven't been dragged through the mud etc, I often find myself noticing how ridiculously new & clean most characters' shoes are - even for characters who are supposed to be homeless!

Beyond the budget for hair & makeup, I think getting a real wardrobe person & focusing on continuity (aka hiring a scripty) are big considerations. I think it's simply easier to have someone ALWAYS be neat and clean than to monitor exactly where the dirt is from shot to shot.
 
I think it probably breaks down in the editing process. Think of clean as zero and any stage of dirt as 1,2,3,4,5. Obviously it's not mentally impossible to track a bit of dirt across 10 shots. However, having options in the final edit is one of the most important things, in terms of taking a bad film and making it into a good one. This is sort of the norm rather than the exception. so if it's always the zero, the timing and sequence of shots in the final cut can be flexible, and if it's 0,1,2,3,4 then you are locked into that sequence.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
I wanted to use candles in my christmas movie but decided they were too much trouble for that reason.
Tried to put the food bag in front of that damn oven clock too. i dont want an oven clock to be the thing that im thinking about on set lol.
 
I do understand the challenge of maintaining continuity, and occasionally find it mildly amusing to read of continuity gaffes in big-budget productions ... but does it not also represent a lack of "ambition" ? My interest in the production aspect of film came after I'd dabbled in theatre, where I was intrigued by the use of light, make-up, prosthetics and costumes. Dirt can (literally) be painted by numbers, a sweat-stained shirt can be as dry as a bone, those muddy shoes need not every have stomped in a puddle! So is the quest for perfect continuity really a valid excuse? :hmm:

Apart from the actors, I've also found that many, many sets are unrealistically clean. Sure, if it's a clinical and/or futuristic setting, there's a good reason for spotless minimalism, but even my borderline OCD sister's house is never as spectacularly clean and tidy as most Hollywood kitchens, and I don't think I've ever set foot in a functional workshop that resembles the sterile environments in which a great number of cinematic artists and artisans practice their trade! :D
 
My peeve in that regard is the (usually Rom-Com) food fight or mutual daubing with paint - there is no way the couple concerned would have got every last trace of splat cleared off themselves and the surrounding surfaces in time to go out that evening!

🤔 Perhaps I've found my niche - specialist supplier of realistic dirt to the movie industry. I could leave my own floors/windows/worktops uncleaned in the name of research and then maybe have enough time to move forward with at least one of my unfinshed projects.
 
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