TV Tropes: Troubled Production

Today, I will talk more about TV Tropes.  Specifically I will discuss an entry on their site called Troubled Production.  This refers to a production that is troubled.  As is common in such film shoots, things can go wrong.  Cast and crew can get sick.  Weather can disrupt filming.  Props can malfunction.  Films can fall behind schedule.

I had issues of my own when I shot my first film for my digital filmmaking class last semester.

First, I had trouble finding actresses.  Then I had trouble finding a location.

When I finally had those two things, I had trouble with with availability and weather.

My cousin who played one of the roles, had to cancel on the originally scheduled filming date because she had a school assignment to work on.  Two days later, we planned shoot but then there was a huge storm that affected much of the state of Illinois.  My cousin had returned home early from getting her hair done because of the weather, and when she returned to get her hair done, she had to cancel because she could not guarantee when she would be finished.  Finally, we rescheduled filming for two days later.  My cousin arrived at my college to film, and we  got to work.  Then I realized that I made a mistake.  I did not turn the microphone on the camera and I had no sound.  Luckily, my other actress, who was a classmate in my filmmaking class told us that the dialogue could be rerecorded and then I could re-sync it when editing it on the computer.

When time came to edit, however, I still had issues because I did not have much time to work on it; I could only edit it at school since only at school did I have access to Macs with Final Cut Pro, or any type of good film-editing software.  I tried to finish the editing on the day of the screening of all of our films, but I could not.  First, the computer on which I saved the files was used by another student (the classmate who appeared in my short film as the mother and aunt) and when I had time, I struggled with re-syncing the audio and realized that I had to do it line-by-line.  I ended sending my professor an incomplete version that was missing audio in two of the three scenes.  He did not show it at the screening because he could not download the file in time.  I was relieved because in my mind, I was scared of him showing it and being humiliated by it; even if it had been complete, I would have not been in the room while it was being shown because I feel it was a sloppy job, and I am committed to doing better next time.  It was my first film, after all, and not many people’s early works are their best, anyway.

Later on the last day of the semester, I finally had the time to finish the editing of the video and audio, and I submitted the project to my professor.  The people who saw it like it, though I really don’t.  But, I value the whole experience, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Of course, I am an amateur, and professionals often have even bigger issues when things go wrong.

TV Tropes has many examples, but one noteworthy one they don’t mention is the film Something’s Got to Give, directed by George Cukor and starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin for 20th Century Fox.  The troubles were so bad, that they indirectly caused the film to be abandoned.

First, on the day that filming was to begin, April 23, 1962, Monroe didn’t show up because of a sinus infection.  Cukor changed the shooting schedule to work around her since waiting for her recovery would have delaying the entire film for a month, had she followed a doctor’s orders.

Throughout the next couple of months, Monroe was frequently absent because of various health problems.  On May 19, she was scheduled to perform for President Kennedy at his birthday party; no one thought she would keep that commitment, but she did, and that was yet another iconic moment in her life.

In early June, shortly after Monroe’s birthday, she missed yet another day of filming because of a fever.  Cukor and Fox were fed up, and the studio fired her.

However, Dean Martin, was contractually given the right to approve his leading lady.  He refused to do the film without Monroe.  Fox agreed to rehire her, but compromises were made on both sides.  Monroe had to do two films for Fox including Something’s Got to Give, and Monroe insisted that Cukor be replaces as director; Fox also offered more money than she originally was offered.

However, in August of 1962, Monroe was found dead in her home.  The movie was shelved, but later it was overhauled and filmed as Move Over, Darling with Doris Day and James Garner as the leads and released in December 1963.

According to Wikipedia: “In April 1963, Fox released the 83-minute documentary Marilyn which included brief clips from the screen-tests and unfinished film showing Monroe. This was the only footage from the film seen by the public until the hour-long 1990 documentary Marilyn: Something’s Got To Give, which used extensive excerpts from the footage…Nine hours of largely unseen footage from the film remained in the vaults at 20th Century Fox until 1999, when it was digitally restored by Prometheus Entertainment and assembled into a 37-minute segment for the two-hour documentary, Marilyn: The Final Days. It first aired on American Movie Classics on June 1, 2001, which would have been Monroe’s 75th birthday.[5][6] It is available on DVD.”

Another noteworthy case is that of Judy Garland.  Her drug addictions contributed to her being fired from several films and having trouble with others.

First, she suffered a breakdown while filming The Pirate and she was committed, but finished the film.  Later, while filming The Barkleys of Broadway, in 1948 migraine headaches, and the use of morphine and sleeping  led to her missing several filming days; she was fired from the film after doctors said she was only healthy enough to shoot for 4-5 days at a time with extended rest periods in between ans was replaced by Ginger Rogers.  She was, a year later, cast in the film version of Annie Get Your Gun, but Garland suffered with insecurity with the role and did not like director Busby Berkeley’s treatment towards her on set; as a result she was frequently tardy, and failed to show up.  Eventually, she was fired from the film and replaced by Betty Hutton.   Later, she appeared in Summer Stock,  and she missed the “Heavenly Music” number; she did not show up the day it was filmed, and therefore, it was shot without her.  She took a break from the film for two months and returned to shoot the famous “Get Happy” number; as a piece of trivia, Garland lost weight in the interim, and as a result there is the myth that it was originally filmed for a different film because she was noticeably thinner than in the rest of the film.  Finally she was cast in Royal Wedding, replacing June Allyson who dropped out of the film after becoming pregnant; however once again, frequent absences led to her being fired from the film, replaced (by Jane Powell) and she was released from her MGM contract in 1950.  Seventeen years later, Garland was cast as Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls.  She was unreliable on the set, missing several rehearsals, and was fired and replaced by Susan Hayward.  Her wardrobe tests and her recording of the song “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” survived.



3 thoughts on “TV Tropes: Troubled Production

  1. Pingback: Review and Recap of the Documentary, Marilyn: The Final Days and the Film, Something’s Got to Give | ellisanthonyandysuttonjr

  2. Pingback: Review and Recap of Valley of the Dolls | ellisanthonyandysuttonjr

  3. Pingback: Review and Recap of Judy: Beyond the Rainbow | ellisanthonyandysuttonjr

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