INT. REKON STAGEA laptop sits on a table as pondering finger tips type away. The beginnings of a list of our 10 favorite depictions and uses of sound stages in Film and TV comes to fruition. ReKon Producers hover around intern and laptop in the newly finished ReKon Stage discussing sound stages.
JON Isn’t the point of a sound stage not to be recognized by the audience?
LESLEY Unless it’s a movie or episode about production – then it’s about how much it looks like a sound stage.
KRISTINA So what are some of our favorite movies about making movies?
SCHRAD Can this list be in no particular order?
INTERN Should I be typing all of this?
_______________________________________________________Living in Oblivion (1995), a film about independent film making – it features a sound stage heavily as it takes the audience through the hardships and headaches of low budget production. Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: For the entire movie, we’re on a Manhattan soundstage where director Nick Reve (Steve Buscemi) makes a movie. The opening sequence is take after take of a mother-daughter confrontation, each one wrecked by a small glitch and you can practically taste the tension. By the end, Nick explodes, trashing the set and insulting everyone on it, but it is revealed that this is just what he’d like to do. Call Your Girlfriend (2011), Swedish recording artist Robyn embraces the sound stage as the prime location for her dance music video. Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: The hanger like building is left undressed with exposed soundproofing and all and with just the flip of a switch turn the large empty space into the perfect dance club. Eric Hollywood (1998), in it’s fifth season Boy Meets World aired an episode that followed Eric Matthews to Hollywood after he was offered a role in the fictional show Kid Gets Acquainted with the Universe. Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: The moment when fictional actor Ben Sandwich yells at the “young and hip” writers room, located just to the side of the standing set, it is actually a table of children. One of the writers pulls out their cell phone and tells their mom they have been fired again. Hollywood Babylon (2007), back in its second season Supernatural had the Winchester Brothers investigating the ghost story at one of the old Hollywood Backlots while a crew shot (appropriately) a horror movie. Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: At a craft service table, Sam and Dean discuss their case, but also experience “real Hollywood.” Dean goes from not knowing what a PA is to getting really into the role. Studio 60 on Sunset Strip (2006), Though only airing for one season, this series took place behind the scenes of a live sketch comedy show that claimed to be on NBS, a fictional broadcasting network. Best use of a Sound Stage as a Set: In the episode called “The Disaster Show,” Allison Janney is guest host of a show that goes haywire when the prop masters and cue card workers go on strike. She humorously keeps the show going, even when sound effects are not on cue, when props are not in place and when she is not told in advance what to say in front of the audience.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952), This story that takes place in the beginning of the Sound-Era in Hollywood and is a light approach to the transition into “talkies.” Frequently described as one of the greatest musicals ever made, this film and its use of sound stage will leave you with a “glorious feeling.”
Best use of Sound Stage as a Set: During the song “Make Em Laugh” Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) sings about the merits of being a comedic actor. As he bursts into song, he dances around the soundstage amid props, stagehands, and backdrops.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Combining live action and animation, this film intermixes fantasy and comedy to investigate a murder concerning Roger Rabbit. The film has a unique feel because in its world, cartoons are “real” and go to work on a sound stage like real life actors to shoot their movies.
Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: When the cartoon action stops abruptly, the goofy cartoon music continues and the camera pulls back to reveal how the cartoon is being filmed on a live sound stage. A human director steps onto set and tells Roger he is doing the scene wrong.
Synecdoche, New York (2008), The film captures the struggles of a theater director as he constructs a replica of New York City in a warehouse. He creates a world within a world, giving him the power to re-create aspects of his life on a huge soundstage.
Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: The funeral scene with a monologue is shown as a staged scene and it looks almost ridiculous seeing actors look beside themselves on a sound stage and use umbrellas with fake rain. The scene, however, is intentionally placed to juxtapose against the ‘true’ ending of this movie.
The Truman Show (1998), Truman Burbank believes he is a regular insurance salesman on Seahaven Island, yet he is actually the star of a live television show. He starts to think he is being watched, but has no idea that his life is secretly filmed and that his town is just one big soundstage.
Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: When Truman ascends the “sky steps” to exit his false reality, he talks to the show creator. The creator tells Truman that he knows him better than he knows himself, but Truman responds that there was never a camera in his head.
A Leading Man (September Release, 2014), Stuck playing an offensive stereotype on a television sitcom, actor GQ speaks up for himself on set. This results in him getting fired, and he desperately tries to cling to his career by getting romantic with a prominent casting director.
Best Use of Sound Stage as a Set: Now, we might be sort of bias towards this film – as it is one of our own projects, but there is a great steadicam tracking shot when GQ gets fired that follows him through the sound stage, studio and parking lot that really shows off the sound stage as a set!
Check out more about our favorite Film/TV sound stages as sets on our Tumblr this week! And stay tune for more about the newly open ReKon Stage.