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Mutants On Parade 7/31/08
by Lance Norris

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Hey kids, it has been a while. What did I do with my vacation? Came up with a choate list of Hollywood movie terms. It's long, so let us just look at the A's this week, shan't we?

AAAA: Actors unions SAG, AFTRA and Equity's pathetic attempt at hooking up with the teamster so they could have something like real power. Didn't work.

ABBY SINGER: The second to last shot of the (as opposed to The Martini Shot, which is the last shot of the day). Apparently Abner Singer was the production manager on the old Bob Newhart Show who would often call the last shot of the day only to have the director constantly ask for one more.

ABOVE-THE-LINE EXPENSES: This is all the money spent before you begin shooting a film. The script, salaries for the director, producer and cast. Travel expenses. Most Above-The-Line people eat at their own table at lunch and don't mingle with the Below-The-Line crew unless it is a lead actress slumming it because a reporter from People Magazine is there and she wants to appear 'down-to-earth'. Anne Heshe carried this a little bit too far when she married Below-The-Line to prove she was not only down-to-earth but straight, and she learned that cruel lesson pretty quick.

ABSTRACT: The rejection of traditional narrative for a more poetic form, like Bunuel's UN CHIEN ANDALOU or Green's FREDDIE GOT FINGERED.

ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURES ARTS AND SCIENCES: A bunch of old white guys who vote (or let their mistresses vote) for the Oscars.

ACE: The American Cinema Editors honorary society. Kind of like the AV Club in high school.

ACTOR: A petulant child who gets paid huge sums of money to play pretend. Sadly, many have been know to 'go off script' lately and try to voice their opinions on anything other than the service at SkyBar, embarrassing all concerned.

ACTRESS: A female actor.

ADAPTATION: The presentation of one art form though a different medium, like a movie based on a play, novel, video game or song.

ADDITIONAL CAMERA: Also known as B Camera, is an extra camera set up to catch another angle of a complicated stunt or as a safety 'back-up' camera incase a director can finally get Scarlett Johansson to deliver a line without coming across like a wooden fuck-puppet.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY: After the director has made the movie he or she wanted to make, the shit-eyed suits back at the studio will run it for a test audience and if this suddenly empowered mall-rats give it the thumbs down, the suits might call for some 're-shooting' of scenes to 'save the movie'. I'd have to double check, but I have found no evidence of any movie ever being improved by a shit-eyed suit changing the ending of a movie on the advice of a bunch of latch-key kids who saw the original film for free while playing hooky. It is really just an exercise for the suits to justify their existence. If the movie still manages to work after they have jacked with it, it's because the suits 'saved' it. Or, if more than likely the changes hurt the movie the suit is still
covered because they can always say, 'Hey, we did everything we could to save that dog, but you can polish a turd all you want and you're still just going to end up with just a shiny turd at the end of the day, fella'.

ADVANCE: The money from the next movie that you will use to cover your bar, coke and hooker tab while writing this movie.

AERIAL SHOT: A camera shot from far over-head. Higher than a normal crane shot.

AGENT: Any time you feel a dry thumb going up your ass, turn around really quickly. That smiling fella standing behind you is an agent.

ALAN SMITHEE: The fake name the Director's Guild of America let a director put on the credits when said director gets sick of everyone else's shit and wants his name off the film. The name was retired after the horrid AN ALEN SMITHEE FILM: BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN ruined the joke. Who's fault was that? Joe Eszterhas. Big shock! Some 'Alan Smithee' directed films: DEATH OF A GUNFIGHTER (Don Siegel), LET'S GET HARRY (Stuart Rosenberg), GHOST FEVER (Lee Madden), CATCHFIRE (Dennis Hopper), THE SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE (Michael Gottlieb), THE OJ SIMPSON STORY and episodes of the TV series MRS COLUMBO, MacGYVER and THE COSBY SHOW.

A-LIST: People I'll never get to work with.

ALLEGORY: An extended metaphor, talked about in film school, but never really seen in the movies.

ALLUSION: Not saying what you mean because you live in Hollywood, lie for a living and have to hide your real meaning from view.

AMBIANCE: or Room Tone. That sound that is always going on in the background of your daily life that you never really notice, but if it were missing something would seem wrong. On location you'll hear a sound guy yell something like, "Shut the fuck up for Room Tone" and then everyone except the Teamsters will shut the fuck up so they can record that background sound to use later. They will record until someone cell phone goes off, so sometimes you might want to make your phone go off so you can get out of there.

AMERICANIZE: To dumb down the work of another culture so it will work for American audiences. Like THE OFFICE, or GODZILLA.

ANACHRONISM: An element in a film that belongs to another time or place. Like the guy wearing jeans under his costume in GLADIATOR or the dink wearing a Swatch in GLORY.

ANAMORPHIC: Also know as Cinemascope, it only really matters to people who know what aspect ratio is. There should be no math in art.

ANCILLARY RIGHTS: The gravy. A percentage of the profit off things like CDs, books, T-shirts, action figures and Happy Meal toys. Fight for these. Let them fuck your script from here to Tuesday, but fight for your ancillary rights.

ANIMATION: Cartoons that make over $100 million on their opening weekend.

ANIME: Cartoon for Japanese and really scary Goth kids.

ANTIHERO: A morally compromised protagonist. Young Hollywood stars like to play these roles because they hope the audience will confuse them with the their on-screen role and not see
Antihero Du Jour

Antihero Du Jour
them for the shallow pussies they really are.

ARCHETYPE: A character, thing or place that has been so over-used in the movies it has become a cliché. Like the whore with the heart of gold or Anthony Hopins.

ARC SHOT: A shot where the camera circles the subject.

ART DEPARTMENT: The same kids that were hanging around the kiln or smoking behind the gym in high school. They all work for the Production Designer (if he's ever on the set) or more likely the Art Director and include the Special Effects Department, the draftsmen, the production buyers, the set decorators and dressers, the prop master, leadman, swing gang and their assistants and college interns. It is important to note that one or more of the interns in the Art Department more than likely will be responsible for selling coke to the rest of the crew.

ART DIRECTOR: The person that does most of the work the Production Designer gets credit for.

ARTHOUSE: A movie house that just doesn't want to make money. Often run by trust fund babies or idiots.

ART-HOUSE FILM: A low budget film that doesn't totally suck, but doesn't have the production values to get shown at the Cineplex in the mall.

ASC: The American Society of Cinematographers. Founded in 1919, your name must contain more vowels than consonances to join.

ASPECT RATIO: The relative size or the vertical and horizontal components of an image. The "Academy Ratio" is 1.30:1, which means Once (1) your wife gets too old (30) you trade her for a new one (1). 1.30:1. Simple.

ASSEMBLY: The first stage of editing, where the shots are placed in order in which the come in the script.

ASSISTANT CAMERA: or 1st Assistant Cameraman, Assistant Camera Operator, Camera Assistant. This is the person that does maintenance and cleaning of the camera, or nigger work, as Clark Gable so charmingly called it. They also keep the "dope sheet" and in low budget films they might do the clapper-loader and focus puller jobs as well.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: or AD, 1st Ad, 2ed AD. The AD is that little flea that buzzes around the set making sure the production stays somewhere near the production schedule and they prepare the call sheet for the next days shoot. They make sure the union rules are being followed and that the teamsters appear to be awake at all times. They also get to boss around the extra and the 'background artist', the only real power they have, so of course, they abuse it. They are also often times the studio/producer's mole on the set; so watch your back with these slippery bastards.

ASSISTANT FILM EDITOR: The person responsible for keeping the film editor from spilling his scotch on the equipment or burning a hole in the negative with his Dunhill.

ASSISTANT PRODUCTION MANAGER: The same as a Production Secretary but with smaller tits and normally gives better head, but has been known to sleep with Grips, so it's best to stay away.

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: An honorary title given to the least retarded of the
Associate Producer

Associate Producer
producer's relatives. Some films can carry several of this ticks on their backs.

ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONALE du FILM d'ANIMATION: Where French cartoonist go when they have to get out of mom's basement for the afternoon.

AUDIO BRIDGE: When the sound that ends a scene is used to match up with the sound in the next scene, like the roar of the chopper blades at the end of a scene in APOCALYPSE NOW becoming the sound of the over-head fan in the next scene.

AUTEUR: A director who's head is so far up his ass he feels his name must appear at least once, but more than likely thrice, before the film starts. The term originated with Francois Truffaut who thought he might get the producers to pay him more if his name appeared before the title's of his films.

Other Auteur Director's (alphabetically) Robert Aldrich, Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Hal Ashby, Luc Besson, Ingmar Bergman, Bernardo Bertolucci, Robert Bresson, John Boorman, Mel Brooks, Tim Burton, Frank Capra, John Cassavetes, Charlie Chaplin, Stephen Chow, Joel and Ethan Coen. Francis Ford Coppola, David Cronenberg, Jules Dassin, Blake Edwards, Atom Egoyan, Sergei Eisenstein, Frederico Fellini, Milos Forman, John Ford, Stephen Frears, Abel Gance, Terry Gilliam, Jean-Luc Godard, D. W. Griffith, Howard Hawks, Werner Herzog, Alfred Hitchcock, James Ivory, Jim Jarmusch, Elia Kazan, Buster Keaton, Richard Kelly, Stanleuy Kubrick, Akira Kurpsawa, Stanley Kwan, Fritz Lang, David Lean, Spike Lee, Mike Leigh, Sergio Leone, Jerry Lewis, Richard Linklater, George Lucas, Baz Luhrmann, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, David Mamet, Michael Moore, F.W. Murnau, Christopher Nolan, Brian De Palma, Alexander Payne, Sam Peckinpah, Roman Polanski, Nicholas Ray, Jean Renoir, Roberto Rossellini, Robert Rodrigues, Ken Russell, Gus van Sant, John Sayles, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, M. Night Shyamalan, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh, Todd Solondz, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Erich von Stroheim, Preston Sturges, Quentin Tarantino, Julie Taymor, Paul Verhoeven, John Waters, Orson Wells, Wim Wenders, Billy Wilder, John Woo, Robert Zemeckis and Fred Zinnemann.

This list is far from complete, but at one time or another each one of these hammerheads felt that the fact that they were making a movie was more important than the actual movie itself, hence the name before the title.

ADR: Automated Dialogue Replacement. Re-recording of an actors dialogue in a sound studio because the sound on location was bad. A great way for day-players to get an extra day's work by rustling their costume on their body mic so they have to come back and re-do their dialogue later.

AVID: A non-linear editing system or an American Veterinary Identification Devices, which is a RFID microchip placed under the skin of an actor to keep track of them during production. See: Matthew McConaughey.

AVAILBLE LIGHT: The natural light on a location.

AXIS OF ACTION: See 180 Degree Rule.

AXIS OF EVIL: See Dreamworks.

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Ask a Bitter Man
Every Thursday

Lance Norris gives us his opinions on the state of film, vents about Hollywood, and generally lets his thoughts fly.

Other Columns
Other columns by Lance Norris:

Later On Croutons

Mutants On Parade 11/12/09

Mutants On Parade 11/5/09

Mutants On Parade 10/29/09

Mutants On Parade 10/21/09

All Columns

Lance Norris
Lance Norris, dubbed "Boston's only straight Film Critic" reviews movies for WZLX in Boston.

He has two books entitled Ask A Bitter Man: The Best of 1984 - 1999 Vol. 1 and I've Seen Better Film On The Teeth of Wolverines. which you can buy here

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Lance Norris by clicking here.

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