Notes from "The Truman
The following bits of information were
obtained from newsgroup postings by Ron
Hudspeth regarding the filming of "The Truman Show" in Florida,
on which he was an extra. He has graciously allowed me to post his articles
- Basic thoughts about the shoot:
Well... I felt the shooting went extremely well, as near
as I could tell, we only reset to do two scenes and those were apparently
because of weather. The screen play went through several revisions, but
that was more due to being able to take advantage of certain fortuitous
circumstances. For instance, there were two twin police officers in the
extra group. When the first unit got a look at them, the creative juices
got flowing and they wrote them into several scenes. However the tone remains
true to the original script. After describing the things I have been doing
with the movie to people many have said things like, "Well, I don't
normally see "Jim Carrey Movies" but I will have to make an exception.
I certainly hope that Liar-Liar will help them to redefine their impression
of him. My answer has always been that this movie could have also been
done by a young Jimmy Stewart. As to the mood of the set, it was light
yet serious about the work and almost all of the stars were great to work
with. The "lady" playing his Mother apparently was the exception,
but that is second hand information from a friend who was lucky enough
to get a speaking part, and I will not go into that further, since I don't
know for sure.
- Response to a question of whether
the shoot was "unhappy and edgy" due to Carrey:
The atmosphere was GREAT. I was lucky enough to work a scene with him.
When the director told him he was going to walk up the stairs and say hi
to the two of us, he stuck his hand out and said, "Hi how are you
doing?" He did similar things for each of the extras he interacted
with. I had heard the rumor concerning the "No Ace stuff"; it
even was reported in the local paper. We were not told that specifically.
What they did say was, No asking for autographs, No photos or cameras.
Apparently there is a huge black market in pictures. I felt they were more
worried about that than letting information get out too early about the
production. His staff was very protective about people not on the production
lurking around, but with stalkers a part of life out there, I can't say
as I blame them. But he did want to keep a relatively serious vein, at
least compared to other films. I remember one scene where he had to say
"Well, OK then." Right after he said it one time, he goes, "Cut,
darn, I am doing Ace here!"
- When asked if he enjoyed the shoot
and would he do it again: I enjoyed the heck out of it, and
I would do it again. It was both fun and educational. Fortunately I knew
from experience that there is a lot of waiting around involved in any production,
especially for us self-propelled props. One of the best things about working
this production was being able to get to meet a wide range of people, Ed
Feldman, Peter Weir, Peter Biziou and all of the other production and cinema
staff. It is very rare that an extra gets to work over 3 days, let alone
the 25 and more we did. But since the premise of the story required an
island, the director apparently wanted to see the same faces over and over
- Answering whether the film shoot
seemed rushed: Well, I can only comment from my point of
view. I did not get the impression we were being inordinately rushed, we
did have to do a few long days to make up for shoots lost to inclement
weather. My understanding was that in spite of the weather losses, the
production crew was out of here within a week of their original target.
They had to be - spring break started the week they left. One of the things
that helped keep the shooting schedule tight was the fact that we had an
extra pool of around 300 people that kept getting used over and over again,
since the main character is supposedly living on an island, that meant
that once we got used to the flow of things, we were definitely not the
weak link. Also the island scenario meant that the changes of background
locals were kept to a minimum and we were able to shoot several "different"
scenes with a minimum of tear down and reset time. We were also able to
get a lot of second unit work done at the same time that first unit was
working Additionally, I really got the feel that the primary cast/director
were so good that the number of takes per set up were really at a minimum.
Hope that explains a few things. Please feel free to continue to ask, I'll
answer what I can (although there could be a couple of times that I might
"take the fifth" so as not to spoil the enjoyment of the film<g>).
- About Carrey's character: I
don't think it would be betraying any plot devices to say that Truman is
a happy-go-lucky insurance salesman who at one time wanted to explore the
world but now mostly wants to bring home the bacon and raise a family.
You get a sense of good morals and civic trust that is almost cliche with
the small, closed community environment where everyone knows your name.
Think "It's a wonderful life" type persona. Past that, I think
is best left to Mr Weir and the plot development.<g>
- Describing a typical scene with
Carrey: OK, a "typical" scene with Jim. The scene
is Truman going to work, walking past faces he knows to enter a revolving
door at his insurance building. So, the director decides what the general
action will be and the cinematographer figures the angles and the lights
neccesary. The call goes out over the radios to the production assistants
to bring some extras out from the tent and send out the stand ins. The
production assistants are the Go-fers of the director and assistant director
and they are responsible for cueing the "waybacks", those extras
that are truly in the background. Then they place the featured extras,
the ones that will be in camera while they are setting the ambience, before
or after the star is in the scene. In this case, they wanted some new faces,
so Peter Weir came over to where we were and saw me. We had previously
met and he asked his "visual coordinator" (his wife Wendy) if
he could use me. Fortunately I was "Wendy Friendly" (a term that
was coined for those with the right "look") and I was placed
dead center in front of the camera. Then the assistant director came over
and blocked our movement for the shot (blocking is setting up the movement
or "action"). He then took Jim's stand in to his starting place
and we would do several rehearsals to get the movements down to the right
sequence. All this time, Jim is off set, or to the side discussing the
scene with Peter. Once the cameras (usually an A and B camera) and director
are happy with the blocking then the star (in this case, Jim) comes in
and the director explains how the shoot will go. He told Jim that he would
be saying hello to me and the fellow I was talking to and Jim stuck out
his hand and said "Hi, how ya doin." Then it is "places
everyone" and we are rehearsing. If all goes well, the call "pictures
up" goes out (the next take will be filmed). At the end of the scene,
the the director yells "cut" and may also yell "freeze"
or "back to one" depending on whether they need some information
to keep continuity or need to reset. Once they have what they like, the
final call is to "check the gates." They check the film gates
in the camera to make sure there was no dust or dirt that could have scratched
the emulsion. The panavision camera films both in film and video, so then
Jim would usually go to the monitors with Peter and they would see if they
wanted to use a different angle, or redo it, or... (all part of that creative
process us mere mortals don't partake in)
- Possible news of a promotion show:
Just wanted to mention as well as the trailers, there was
a "mocumentary" shot for HBO films while we were on set and I
had a chance to be in that as well. As you may know, "THE TRUMAN SHOW"
is a movie about a television show called, strangely enough, THE TRUMAN
SHOW. Well the HBO film will be a behind the scenes look at THE TRUMAN
SHOW TV production, so will be firmly rooted in the fantasy, as if the
TV show has really existed for all these years. Harry Shearer will play
the interviewer, and you can look for several previously unknowns to play
major parts in the Mocumentary. I also understand that Peter Weir has a
cameo in the bit as well. I believe the HBO episode will be called "Tru-Talk"
after a behind the scenes show in the script.
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