Do you ever dream of “making it in Hollywood”? Your name on billboards, dining at only the finest restaurants, living in a mansion, driving a fancy car, and having some of the biggest names in Tinseltown as your closest friends?
Or perhaps you just like movies and want to know a little more about the film industry. A lot of people assume it’s easy to make a film; many people also believe that all you need is talent and you’ll instantly get hired.
Yes, talent is important, but there is so much more to the film industry that many people may not know about. From cover-ups to animal cruelty, you might find this list surprising. Here are 25 Things You Never Knew About the Film Industry.
Some movie critics give fake reviews
Maybe this has happened to you: you read the reviews about a movie and think, “Wow, this sounds like it’s going to be a great film!” But after seeing the movie, you say, “That movie was terrible. What were these film critics thinking?”
It turns out that some reviews are either fake or mixed and matched with other movie reviews. The marketing department will take a piece of a blurb about a movie here, and put it in a blurb about a movie there.
And that’s not all. Moviemakers will even go so far as to bribe critics with free movie screenings, free food, gifts, and visits to the set where the movie is being made.
One of the most infamous of these people is Earl Dittman, who actually emailed Fox, sent them different film reviews for the movie Robots, and told them to pick the one they liked the most.
The first three movies ever made
The first film ever made, The Horse in Motion, was created with a few cameras and was actually filmed to test a popular question about horses. The question was whether or not all hooves touch the ground while horses are galloping. It turns out that they do.
The second film was called Roundhay Garden Scene. It was made by Louis LePrince and it’s only 2.11 seconds long, which does technically qualify as a movie. According to Guinness, it’s the oldest surviving film today.
The third film was made by The Lumiere Brothers called Arrival of a Train. It’s one single shot of a train pulling up to a station and people getting on. There is a story that when people first saw this, they were freaked out by the train. Many thought it was going to come through the screen and they ran to the back of the theatre to escape.
Many scripts are stolen
Here is where the copyright laws can get a little tricky. Let’s say that you’re a screenwriter and you have a great idea for a movie. You tell some Hollywood executives about it, and they pan the idea. A few months later, you see your idea being shown in theatres. What the hell, right?
It turns out this happens because ideas are not copyrighted, but scripts are. So, if the filmmakers like the idea but not the script, they just hire someone else to write the script based on your idea.
A man named Art Buchenwald won a settlement with Paramount when a script he wrote called King for a Day was made into the movie Coming to America.
Director had to prove he didn't kill actors
In 1980, a low-budget movie was made titled Cannibal Holocaust. It was about a group of anthropologists who go to the Amazon Rainforest to discover what happened to a documentary film crew that went to research cannibal tribes.
The film was so realistic that the director of the film, Ruggero Deodato, actually had to go to court and prove that no actors were really killed. Cannibal Holocaust is considered a cult classic among horror fanatics, despite it being banned in several countries.
Severe method acting
Many actors will do research for their role in a movie. Sandra Bullock went to rehab to learn more about recovering drug addicts for her role in 28 Days.
Then there are the actors who really want to get inside the minds of their character and go even further than research. Charlie Sheen reportedly stayed up for 48 hours to achieve the look of a drug addict for his cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Can a Golden Globe award be bought?
A few years back, there was a scandal involving the corruption of the Golden Globes. It was reported that many films that won only did so because filmmakers had bribed the Association with lavish gifts and other incentives.
In 1982, unknown actress Pia Zadora won an Oscar for her role in the movie Butterfly. Critics panned her performance and many speculate that her husband, who was the producer of the film, flew the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) to Las Vegas for the weekend before they voted.
Animals are mistreated
You may see movies that have animals in them and a caption that reads “No Animals were Harmed During the Making of this Film.” Sometimes this is a fact, but at other times, it’s complete bull.
Many films have mistreatment of animals or even real animal deaths. The tiger in Life of Pi reportedly almost drowned during the making of the film.
Hollywood covers up guilty actors
It should come as little (or no) surprise to you that many actors are able to get away with heinous crimes. Recently, with the #metoo movement, many of them are being brought to justice; however, this was not always the case.
When actor Matthew Broderick was driving in Ireland with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey, he accidentally killed two women because he was driving on the wrong side of the road. Broderick faced few legal consequences and only had to pay a $175.00 fine even though he had been found responsible.
Raiders of the Lost Ark fight scene
Remember the scene in Raider of the Lost Ark when a sword-wielding bad guy challenges Indiana Jones to a fight, and then Indy simply pulls out his gun and shoots him?
The scene is comical, but there was actually supposed to be a big sword fight between the two characters. Harrison Ford, who played Jones, wasn’t feeling well that day, and thus not in any condition to do a big fight scene.
We think (and many will probably agree) that the resultant scene turned out just fine.
What Alan Rickman knew
Before his death due to cancer, Alan Rickman was told the secret of his Harry Potter character, Severus Snape, by the author of the series herself, J.K. Rowling.
(Spoiler ahead) The end of the series reveals that Snape was actually a good guy defending the young Harry Potter because Snape was in love with Potter’s mother. Rickman kept the secret to his grave.
Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Sometimes an actor will pretend to be surprised that they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The truth is, they knew about it the whole time as there is a process of getting your star.
You need to apply for a star through the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The cost of roughly $30,000 covers both installation and upkeep of the star.
The overpricing of movie theater goodies
Are you ever curious as to why a box of popcorn is so expensive at the movies? Well, that’s how theaters make their profit, especially in the first week of a major picture being shown.
Movie theaters don’t make money from ticket sales until the film has been shown for a few weeks. There are also fees that a theater has to pay in order to screen the movie. So, maybe think twice before sneaking food into the theater.
Movie trailers purposely deceive you
Is that movie you’ve been wanting to see nothing like what was shown in the trailer? There is a good reason for that; the studio deceived you.
There are a couple of reasons why filmmakers put out a trailer completely different from the movies. They want to fill as many seats on opening day so they will make the trailer to appease to different audiences. For instance, a romantic movie can be made to look like slapstick comedy.
The other reason is so as not to spoil the ending of the movie. (Spoiler) Kevin Spacey’s name wasn’t in the trailer for the movie Seven because they didn’t want to reveal the killer.
Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign
Peg Entwisle was an actress in the earlier 20th century who committed suicide by jumping off the “H” on the famous Hollywood sign.
The actress had battled depression for many years. Some say the sign is haunted by her ghost. There is another belief that the song “Peg” by Steely Dan is about the late actress.
Disney vs. Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock was the legendary director of such films as Vertigo, Rear Window, The Birds, and of course Psycho.
Many people applauded Hitchcock’s vision and movie-making skills … but not Walt Disney. He was so disgusted with Psycho that he refused to let Hitchcock make any movie at Disneyland.
The Wilhelm Scream
The Wilhelm Scream is a sound effect used in many motion pictures and television when somebody is shot or falls off a building. It was created 60 or some odd years ago, and you can see it being used even in today’s films.
Quentin Tarantino and Peter Jackson are among some of the directors who use this sound in their films. The first time the effect was used occurred in the 1951 film Distant Drums, starring Gary Cooper, when a man crossing a river gets dragged underwater by a crocodile.
Since then, the Wilhelm Scream has been used in over 200 movies.
The story of the Warner Brothers
Warner Brothers Studios is probably one of the most well known and biggest movie studios in the world. They are responsible for such films as Goodfellas and Malcolm X along with everybody’s favorite wise-cracking rabbit, Bugs Bunny.
The Warner Brothers themselves are rather remarkable as well. Albert, Sam, Harry, and Jack Warner are responsible for putting sounds in motion pictures. They were also the first to put animals in movies.
The first movie with sound
Credited with being the first movie to have sound, The Jazz Singer was produced in 1927. It starred May McAvoy, Warner Oland, and Al Jolson.
The film cost over $400,000, which at the time was a pretty hefty sum. The film has also rightfully been labeled racist, as Jolson had put on “blackface” for this role and others.
Hollywood was supposed to be a religious community
This might be one of the most surprising facts about Hollywood. The people who created Hollywood, Harvey and Daeida Wilcox, wanted to make a quiet place where no alcohol was to be served.
They even offered to remit land charges when more churches were built on the property. It was a good intention, but Hollywood turned out a little differently than planned.
Gone With The Wind producer was charged for using obscenity
David O. Selznick was the producer for the classic film Gone with the Wind.
The very end of the movie has one of the main characters, Rhett Butler, walking out the door. The other one, Scarlett O’Hara, chases after him after she’s used him for the last time.
When she cries, “What will I do?” Rhett replies, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
The use of this word cost Selnick $5,000. It was 1939, after all.
Blinking lights on Capitol Records
Here is a little fun fact. The blinking lights on top of the Capitol Records Tower are actually sending a message. Want to know what the message is? Hollywood.
Alan Livingston, the former president of Capitol, originally had the idea that the blinking lights should use morse code. Leila Morse, the granddaughter of Samuel Morse (inventor of Morse code), was the first to activate the lights.
Making a movie is a very long process
Many people may think that all it takes to make a great movie is to get some cameras, hire some actors, choose a location, and presto: you have a movie.
Au contraire (on the contrary), my friends. There is quite the process, and movies sometimes take what seems like forever to make.
The director has to find funding for the project, find actors willing to perform in the project, get permission to use the location of the film, etc. For example, James Cameron’s Avatar was in the making for over a decade before it was released.
"Hey Alan, we're gonna drop you on 3."
Another role that Alan Rickman is famous for, besides Snape, is Die Hard terrorist Hans Gruber. Gruber holds people hostage in an L.A. office building and it’s up to Bruce Willis (John McClane) to save the day.
In a scene near the end of the movie (where Gruber is hanging off the edge of the building), the director told Rickman he was going to drop him at the count of three. When he started counting, however, Rickman was dropped at one. So that look you see on Gruber’s face is a true expression of fear on Alan Rickman’s face. Rest in peace, good sir.
The morality clause
If you think being an actor is tough today, we can assure you it’s nothing like it was in the early 20th century. Not only were actors constantly under a microscope, but they also had to sign a morality clause. This was basically a promise to the studio that they would be perfect and not get in any trouble.
The studio had a say on who the actors dated and married, and whether they were allowed to have children. If the actor broke the clause, they got fired.
The clause still exists today but it’s gotten much looser, which some say may not be a good thing. The clause is apparently now used to punish those who have used their position of power to prey on the vulnerable.
Warner Brothers vs. Hitler
We previously mentioned the Warner Brothers and their innovations in Hollywood. What you also might not know is that Jack Warner took on former Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler by producing the film Confessions of a Nazi Spy.
The film put Warner on Hitler’s execution list. Thankfully, Hitler didn’t have the chance to carry out this intention.