4 Bizarrely Specific Jobs Required For Hit Movies And Shows
Ah, Hollywood! Every year, thousands and thousands of hopefuls feel the call of the silver screen and flock to L.A. to follow what they just know is their destiny. Of course, only a tiny fraction of them actually go on to be stars; it's a well-worn cliche that any random person in the greater Los Angeles area will start throwing movie scripts at you at the slightest provocation, and every dude pouring your coffee has a self-updated IMDb page with roles in shoestring-budget Super 8 movies called Sentinels of the Star System, featuring themselves and a raccoon they caught in their backyard.
"My stage name was Dave Barista until the raccoon heard it and mauled me."
What we often forget is that it's not just actors, directors, and screenwriters who are attracted by the industry. There are any number of technicians, experts, and professionals working on our entertainment, and some of them have found employment in fields that are ... well, let's just say they rank as "weird and kind of creepy" even by the industry's standards.
These are the spit monitors and human alarm clocks of the entertainment field, and this is what they do for a living:
Any rank amateur can instruct two people to bump uglies in a manner that passes for porn. But when it comes to making the act appealing for mainstream cinema in a way that is meant to move the plot instead of the viewers' nether regions, things suddenly get seven kinds of complicated. From the director's view, you want that shit to look good and advance the movie. From the producer's standpoint, things should be sexy enough to draw in the kind of audience that is fascinated by the prospect of two A-listers wrestling in their underwear, but not so hot that it attracts the dreaded R-rating. As for the performers, they generally prefer if they don't have to indulge in too much wiener-related interaction at this point in their careers, thank you so very much. The result of this hodgepodge of mixed interests is generally the sex scene you see in every movie: people awkwardly frenemy-hugging under the sheets, maybe with their backs arched if things get really steamy.
And that's just the beginning of the great heap of trouble that is depicting marital arts in movies. As anyone who has ever made the mistake of looking in the mirror during boning can attest, it's damn difficult to make sex look appealing, and whenever movies try to break the mold and create something more ... novel, it's all too easy to stray into ludicrous horror territory.
Now, imagine a scene where there are more than two participants, and listen carefully as the world's cinematographers burst into tears of impotent fury.
"Hey, hold on," I hear you protest. "That's not fair: some movies get the whole boning thing right. Take The Wolf of Wall Street, for instance. There were scenes in that movie where pretty much everyone was fuckin', and it looked awesome." Yes, this is correct. That's because they employed a sex choreographer.
The first guy to hold the job was the production's animal wrangler,
but he kept getting confused by scenes that involve hooters.
The man with this enviable title is Michael Arnold, a Broadway veteran and dance choreographer. One day, a producer offered him an interview for a gig choreographing an orgy scene. Instead of calling the cops and/or running the hell away, Arnold shrugged and went for it. This turned out to be a good move, because the movie was, yes, The Wolf of Wall Street. Not many people can claim their first major movie credit was helping Martin Scorsese sort out a carnival of flesh so that nobody pokes anyone's eye out with an errant boner, but that's what Arnold did (with three separate scenes, no less; the antics at the yacht, the office with the baton twirlers, and the flight to Vegas were all his handiwork). The word spread, and the next thing you know, Arnold had carved himself a name as a bona fide bonin' choreographer.
Following strange people who ask you to come check out their orgy: a surprisingly viable career path.
Apparently a specialist when it comes to depicting complex, multi-person shenanigans, Arnold is described as Hollywood's go-to guy in these matters. But it's not like he can handle all of that ass-placement traffic alone. Perhaps we're witnessing the birth of a brand-new professional class on par with cameramen, special effects people, and gaffers, whatever the hell it is that they do. Who knows, all those hours you spent arranging Barbies and action figures in compromising poses as a kid might finally come in handy one of these days.
Murder Food Stylist
Do you follow NBC's Hannibal? I do; it's amazing. Mads Mikkelsen is awesome in everything except maybe The Desolation of Smaug, but I think that's Mikael Persbrandt anyway, so that's OK.
General fanboying aside, at its heart Hannibal is not a terribly original show. It's a fairly simple killer-of-the-week procedural with a central plot and a twist (SPOILER: The psychiatrist with the fancy tie eats people) and fantastic production values. However, what sets it apart from its ilk is one defining factor: it happily hates its viewers. Unlike shows like Sopranos or Breaking Bad, where even the worst asshole protagonists come with a side order of (at least potentially) redeeming features, Hannibal takes a bunch of nausea-inducing plots and impossible, troubled, cold, and unlikeable characters, then shoves them down our throats with gusto until we find ourselves rooting for the crazy, perpetually sweaty investigator, his pushy boss, the annoying potential romantic interest, and, of course, the manipulative creep that happily eats faces. Shit, they even manage to muddle up the technically 100 percent unlikeable stock character of sleazy, meddling journalist with a gender swap and a looks upgrade. It's such a simple trick it should never work, but it does.
As previously played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Of course, the "hate" I'm talking about is not actual bile; this level of messing with the viewer requires a deep, loving devotion on the creators' part. Nowhere is this more evident than with the copious food porn Hannibal revels in. At its core, this is a tale of a bad man that eats people. He also enjoys sneakily feeding his victims to his frequent dinner guests, to the point where it wouldn't be surprising if he showed up with a goddamn butler's platter at the door of someone who turned down a dinner invitation. So, of course, the show takes great pains to present said food in a manner that would tempt even hardcore vegans, even if they knew that the "lamb" chop on the plate is really Hank from next door. Here, take a look at this picture, knowing that it's supposed to be a people platter, and say that you wouldn't take a bite:
How about this one?
Perhaps some pie?
Gorgeous, aren't they? There's a special expert doing those, you know. Her name is Janice Poon, she's a food stylist by trade, and presumably at some point someone sat down with her and the following conversation took place:
"Yeah, we have this show about a dude who feeds people to other people. We want you to make his food look as appetite-inducing as you can."
"So, you want me to make cannibalism look as awesome as possible?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
"OK, cool. I'll just update my CV to include 'murder chef.'"
In other words: Janice Poon is my new hero.
Subtitles are to movies what mosquitoes are to camping at a swamp; an unfortunate side effect of a much deeper pit of despair (in this analogy, the swamp is that six-hour Polish arthouse movie your date forced you to sit through). As such, the job of a subtitler tends to be viewed as a non-entity. Hell, even in countries where subtitles are the norm, few people pay much attention to the work. Sure, someone probably does that shit, but don't they just basically take the transcript and run it through Google Translate? How hard can it be?
FAIR WARNING: Nine out of 10 professional translators will reflexively punch you
in the throat if you ask that question. The 10th will kick.
But what if the people you're supposed to be subtitling are in fact speaking a dialect of the same language as the viewer that's so far removed from what most of us are used to that every episode airs to the background noise of the popping veins of English professors throughout the country? That, friends, is when someone has to goddamn work for their money.
Let us inspect Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, TLC's reality show study on Grimace-shaped absurdity. Don't worry, fans of the show -- I'm not about to mock it (too much). Cracked columnists are notoriously territorial when it comes to our reality shows: Fortey has already cornered the market, and my official Columnist Dueling Sword is still lodged in some intern that kept failing to bring me coffee because he "doesn't actually work here at all" and claims he just came in to check how my parole is going. Haha, the excuses they come up with these days, am I right?
However, I am going to point out that the stars of the show have a very ... peculiar way of speaking, and as a result, a considerable amount of the show features subtitles. Which brings us to Sara Reddy, a producer in charge of deciphering the musings of the show's stars.
Still an easier job than bleeping out Gordon Ramsay.
Like many insanely specialized gigs, this is not something you apply for. Rather, it's a job you just one day find is part of your responsibilities, whether you like it or not. Thanks to the Honey Boo Boo family's rapid-fire, accented manner of speaking littered with onomatopoeia and words unrecognized by even the bravest dictionary, the production crew soon discovered that the show would need to be subtitled. Reddy, who became accustomed to their speech when working on Toddlers and Tiaras (the show where the family was discovered), was one of the few members of the staff who could actually understand what they're saying, so she got the gig.
And a gig it is: although she says she finds it comparatively easy to understand the family, doing so totally qualifies as a part-time job in and of itself. It takes approximately 15 to 20 hours of solid work to subtitle each episode. In extreme cases, it can take up to 10 people to lip-read, decipher, and/or outright guess what a particular word or sentence is. Reddy is still an executive producer on the show, by the way -- that shit is just part of her responsibilities.
So, think of the show what you will. At least someone in the production crew is working like hell for a living.
I am not a man who lightly embraces censorship. I am vehemently opposed to any and all attempts to restrict man's holy right to flaunt what he has been given, up to and very much including pants. Yes, officer, this includes those times in the park last week. All 37 of them, officer.
Despite this adamant personal belief, I can't help but think that we as people vastly underestimate the heroics members of a certain, little-known profession perform each and every day in their ongoing fight for our sanity. You see their work every time you turn on the TV, even though you probably don't realize it. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the professional dick blurrer. Oh, his business card has a different title; he's a post producer, or some such. But that's not what he's on this list for, oh no. It's because a hefty chunk of his job responsibility is that of the blurmaster.
Take the show Cops. Its blurmaster (fuck you, that's what they're called now) is Mitsuo Goto. As you know, roughly 130 percent of the show's perps are blurred, be it because of swinging genitalia, generous display of trucker's smile, or an erotic facial tattoo with the phone number of your mom. (What, why did you think all those faces are blurred in reality shows?) Goto watches it all, then makes sure you don't have to.
You don't have to see just what this guy is spreading. Goto does.
Goto, like all professionals, takes a pride to his job. All items on the long, long list of shit that needs to be blurred will be blurred. If and when an ass crack needs to be censored, he will censor it as gently as possible. All genitalia will be blur-attacked without mercy. If a person doesn't sign a release form, his face and ass will be blurred. Shit, if a person claims their goddamn Chihuahua is an actor and didn't sign a release form, that Chihuahua and all of its doggy friends onscreen will have their faces blurred.
To be fair, this was the part of Shia's career where he still cared about this sort of thing.
Goto uses computers now. Before they could keep up, he painted his blurs in by hand, frame by glorious, nut-swinging frame.
Yeah, yeah. I get what you're thinking. "Those guys blur logos and license plates and all sorts of other stuff, too, and we should be free to watch what we want" and "THE MAN shouldn't be able to censor our lives." I completely understand that rhetoric, and I thoroughly approve. However, that's Internet rhetoric. Does it really need to apply to casual TV browsing? Everyone knows that the Internet is full of creepy crap. That's why we spend so much time in here. Hell, "You will see things you can never unsee" is part of that Internet user agreement you signed and then forgot about, just before the bit where you agreed on the transfer of the ownership of your soul to Al Gore. Television is a different beast, with different rules. There are things no one needs to see while idly surfing channels, and among them is the syphilitic dong of a meth addict, freely flapping in the wind as he attempts to wrestle three cops while pooping.
Goto and his fellow blurmasters make sure that you won't. So, regardless of your feelings on the subject of censorship, send these unsung heroes a thought next time you eat a hot dog with extra mustard. Chances are, they're the reason you're still able to do so.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked columnist and freelance editor who has seen things, man. Things. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
Check out more from Pauli in 4 Old-Timey Jobs That Could Solve the Unemployment Crisis and 4 Real Products That Prove We Can Ruin Anything.