It might not always look like it, but every movie you've ever seen was pretty hard to make. That's why Transformers had over 1,700 people in its credits.
Still, sometimes it's the small, scrappy productions that go above and beyond, often putting their own asses on the line. Let's take a moment to celebrate the projects that only got made because the filmmakers didn't give a fuck.
5The Cove Filmmakers Hired A Team Of Covert Specialists To Infiltrate Japan
You're probably already familiar with the notorious Japanese whale trade, but what you might not have heard is that the Japanese government is also complicit in the wholesale massacre of dolphins, because apparently they hate the shit out of cetaceans.
"Needs more tentacles."
In 2009, filmmakers Louie Psihoyos and Jim Clark set out to expose the horrific tragedies of the annual dolphin harvest in the town of Taiji. But it was proving to be a difficult task, because it turns out that the Japanese government isn't super jazzed about releasing details on the dolphin harvest, possibly because there is no way to put a positive spin on the phrase "dolphin harvest."
Access to Taiji Cove is restricted during the hunting season. It's blocked by wire fences and regularly patrolled by guards. In order to put together his documentary The Cove, Psihoyos had to make like Nick Fury and assemble a team of conservationist Avengers. Among the recruits were Ric O'Barry (the guy who trained Flipper), "Clandestine Operations" specialist and real-life treasure hunter Charles Hambleton, Mandy-Rae Cruickshank and Kirk Krack (two of the top free divers in the world), and former Canadian Air Force avionics specialist Simon Hutchins. The only thing they were missing was a guy who mutates into a giant dolphin when he gets angry.
The filmmakers found themselves monitored by police, harassed by journalists, and bombarded with anonymous death threats, so the making of the documentary required some legitimate covert operations. With the help of Cruickshank and Krack, they infiltrated the cove with hidden cameras disguised as rocks, using camouflage so sophisticated that they later had trouble figuring out where the hell the cameras were. The technology they were using was so advanced that, after retrieving the footage, they needed to wait for Sony to develop the goddamn software required to watch it so that they could put the film together.
In the end, the operation paid off. The Cove won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2010, and even resulted in fewer dolphins being killed that year. Which is not as good as "zero," but better than "more."
4Escape From Tomorrow Was Secretly Filmed At Disney World
What's scarier than pissing off a horde of cold-hearted dolphin murderers? An army of fucking Disney lawyers, that's what. We're pretty sure they've sued children merely for having unlicensed thoughts about their intellectual property.
Yet in 2012, completely without permission, filmmaker Randy Moore shot Escape From Tomorrow, a horror movie set and filmed in Walt Disney World. It's the story of a man who takes his family on vacation to a theme park and, over the course of a day, winds up going crazy after slowly discovering that the park is part of a psychological experiment run by an organization of people who may or may not be supernatural beings. Also, it might all be in his head. It's ... really kind of hard to explain.
So Moore had a really solid idea for what he wanted his movie to be about, but there was one problem, which you've already guessed: Disney doesn't allow filming within its theme parks. And they weren't about to make an exception for some guy making a violent horror movie about how Disney World is actually run by evil ghosts. Also, the Disney princesses work as high-class prostitutes and Mickey tries to crush a child to death. So yeah, not exactly the themes Disney wants to project as fun for the whole family.
But Moore wasn't about to let that get in the way of his vision. He simply filmed the entire movie in secret. That was obviously much tougher than pretending to be a group of tourists with a camcorder. The cast and crew had to smuggle a full catalog of professional film equipment on site and set it up under the noses of every security guard and chump in a Goofy suit, all of whom are trained to smack down anyone doing exactly that. What resulted was a success story of guerrilla filmmaking that even the filmmakers didn't realistically expect to be able to pull off.
They needed so many comically large mallets to knock him out so they could escape.
The risks didn't end when they left the park. The threat of having the project shut down by Disney was so great that Moore traveled to South Korea to do the post-production and editing, although it is admittedly foolish to believe that there is anywhere on the planet where Disney cannot find you.
Despite the fact that everybody involved in the project thought they'd be lucky to even see the movie finished before drowning in cease-and-desist letters, they succeeded, due to the fact that Disney took the most unexpected response of all: bone-chilling silence. The company won't even acknowledge the film's existence, let alone rally their lawyers. Most people assume they don't want to give it any more exposure, but it is entirely possible that the company doesn't want to tip us off to the idea that their theme park really is a demonic cathedral of surrealistic horrors.