Andrew Serong

A hobby blog. Expect cats.

Ten things your film should do - an usher's perspective

September 6, 2011

My day (and night) jobs for the last three and a half years have involved ushering a lot of movies. From a front of house perspective, there are certain things that become useful or desirable in a movie that usually, I think, filmmakers give no thought to. So from the perspective of an usher, here's a list of things that your movie should do. It'll be great for the front of house staff, and for those going to see your movie.

1. The opening of your film should contain no necessary exposition or information required to advance the plot.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Jurassic Park. The opening is exciting and sets the tone for the film, but if you miss it, you're fine.
BAD EXAMPLE: Easy Rider. The opening shows Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda trafficking drugs and getting the money to fuel their journey across America. If you miss it, you're left wondering what the hell is going on.

2. The opening of your film should be bright enough to adequately illuminate a darkened theatre, enabling late-comers to get to their seats without use of disruptive torchlight or mobile phones. A loud soundtrack also helps!
GOOD EXAMPLE: Most Bond films.
BAD EXAMPLE: Most Alien films.

3. Your film should be short enough not to require a bathroom break.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Monsters Inc. Running-time: 92 mins.
BAD EXAMPLE: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Running-time: 201 mins.

4. Your film should involve a long, needless action-sequence or montage half way into the film to enable a bathroom break that will result in missing no advancement of the plot.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
BAD EXAMPLE: The Big Sleep or pretty much any noir film. The dialogue's great, and no-one knows what the hell is going on, so you better not miss a thing!

5. Actors' diction should be sufficiently clear that in a large theatre you can still understand what they're saying despite poor acoustics.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Jacques Tati films: no dialogue. This was a trick question, no-one wants to hear good diction in the cinema.
BAD EXAMPLE: Brokeback Mountain, or anything with Marlon Brando.

6. The end credits should be just long enough for the audience to compose themselves before leaving, but not so long that only two die-hard cinema-nuts are left in the cinema, waiting to see who the 2nd assistant best-boy was.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Easy Rider (big action ending, credits only last one minute).
BAD EXAMPLES: Snow White (The End, now please leave the cinema) Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (never ends).

7. The genre and age-range used in the film's advertising should match the film that is actually shown.
GOOD EXAMPLE: The Lion King. Even though it involves a death, perhaps some difficult subject matter, it's a heartwarming animated musical with lions. Everyone likes it.
BAD EXAMPLES: Return to Oz. It's advertised as a kids' film. I mean really! Bridge to Terabithia. I bawled my eyes out in that one, and I'm in my 20s.

8. While we're all embracing the digital revolution, and the low-budget horror movies that result, the film still needs to look and sound okay up on the big screen.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Rec. Shaky-handy-cam movie, but the camera-work is steady enough that you don't want to puke.
BAD EXAMPLE: The Bourne Ultimatum. Huge budget movie that is so shaky and jump-cutty that you want to watch it on DVD instead.

9. The film should contain no incredibly irritating theme-songs, recurring gags, or scenes of violence that make it impossible to watch 10 times a week.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Spirited Away, or any Miyazaki film except for My Neighbor Totoro (an otherwise excellent choice except for the final song).
BAD EXAMPLES: Almost any musical ever made, almost any Adam Sandler movie except Punch-Drunk Love, any horror movie made in the last ten years.

10. Film should be easy to pitch in a line or two to a visitor who asks 'what do you have playing tonight?'
GOOD EXAMPLE: Ratatouille: It's an animated film about a rat in Paris who wants to become a chef. He befriends an entry-level cook, and together they try and rescue the best restaurant in Paris.
BAD EXAMPLE: Inland Empire. It's an experimental low-budget movie by David Lynch. You know, the guy that did Twin Peaks. Anyway, it's shot on DV, and it's about... a woman in Hollywood, an actress who... well, bad stuff happens. And it's long. And there's this bit in Poland... Go see Ratatouille.

No comments:

Post a Comment