The real world of Hollywood

Hollywood is pretty much all make-believe, with not much connection to the real world, right? Well, not always.

Went to see the new “Captain America” movie the other night. It was pretty good, and lots of fun if you like those kinds of movies. I’m a huge movie buff, so I sat through the credits as I always do. For a movie like this, you can imagine all the computer-graphics stuff they did, so it was no surprise to see tons of names listed for that. Also no surprise to see a long list of stunt people. And then there are all the weird movie-job titles like gaffers and best boys (whatever they are), and all the actors, directors, editors, etc. All Hollywood jobs; very little that folks like us can relate to.

And then they get to real people who do real-world jobs, folks like security guards and lunch-wagon people – yeah, they list them, too. The longest list in this group kind of surprised me: drivers. Well, OK; there were tons of street scenes, speeding motorcycles, trucks and what have you, so I guess that makes sense.

But then I got to the second longest list of real-world jobs being done by people who made the movie possible: carpenters. I tried to count them, but there were just too many to tally before they scrolled off the screen.

The next two lists were only slightly shorter – painters, followed by plasterers. I was amazed, but shouldn’t have been.  Those fantastic sets and futuristic set pieces aren’t real, of course.  They’re all made of plywood and dimensional lumber, sculpted with plaster, and painted with such skill that it all looks real. Any one of the three lists of people doing those jobs was impressive, but put any two together and they easily outnumber the special-effects people, or the stunt players. Put all three together, and they’re larger than any other group involved in the movie.

Except one: The movie-going public, made up of real-world folks with real-word jobs. We are, after all, the group that makes Hollywood what it is.  And it’s kind of nice to know that the people inside Hollywood that seem most important to a creating a successful movie for real-world people to enjoy, are real-world people just like us.

Till next time,


  • PutnamEco says:

    You could probably relate to more of the jobs on a set than just the carpenters. The Gaffers are the electricians who also do the lighting, the grips are the riggers and scaffold guys who do the non electrical parts of the lighting, the best boy is the head (key)grips assistant.
    If you ever get a chance to work with a film or production crew, take it. It is a very interesting experience. Even volunteering with your local theater company can be entertaining and enlightening.

  • Mike says:

    I also stayed through the credits because I was told there were some previews at the end of the movie that I should see. Because I stayed, I read, and read, and read. Sometimes (not always) I do stay for the credits just to read them and see who all worked on the movie. But for this movie, I did not realize that every person in the world worked on this movie. Well, everybody except for me and my friend, but I’m pretty sure that every other person in the world worked on it. I actually thought it was great that they listed everybody’s name.

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    Putnam — You’re right, of course, but those jobs are among the Hollywood ones I was referring to. As it happens, I have worked a bit with film production when I was an extra for a couple weeks on the Civil War movie “Gods & Generals.” An incredible experience. (If you look closely in the movie you can spot me about a dozen times. Be sure to look for me — I’m wearing blue and carrying a musket.) I used to do a lot of local theater in my younger days. In fact, that’s where I met my wife when we both had roles in the same play. We were married on that theater’s stage.

    Mike — After seeing all those names in the credits I had to wonder why traffic is so bad sometimes. You’d think the roads would be empty since everyone else was working on that movie. (Except you, me and your friend.)

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