The American film Risky Business came out in 1983. It was written and directed by Paul Brickman. It stars Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Richard Masur, Bronson Pinchot, Curtis Armstrong, and about 45 other cast members. There were three producers, an original musical composition team, costume designer, make-up department, set decorators, pre and post-production team members, assistant directors, editorial departments, cameras and electrical departments, stunt departments, special effect departments, sound, and art departments. There were people involved with advertising, with the premiere, with maintaining the buzz for the film, distributors, and so on. It has been thirty years. Yet, when you ask people if they have heard about the film Risky Business, it seems as though 95% of people will nod enthusiastically and say, “Oh yeah, that’s the film where Tom Cruise slides in his underwear, isn’t it?” Still. Forget the other 90 minutes of the film. Forget any of the other players. In the end, it all comes down to this iconic scene. (The same could also be used for the song “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger, though that admittedly had a life of its own before it was used in this scene.)
There is something very impressive, very amazing about this, though I am not sure if it is amazing because of how great or how sad the situation is. Of course film has always been a collaborative effort, and the more people involved, the more people get forgotten by the majority of the public. If there are iconic moments in the film, then you can greatly forget about including anyone else besides the person (s) shown on screen at the time of the iconic moment, and perhaps some of the sensory details (music, set, location). Is this really worth it? If working for a film, wouldn’t all of the other 300+ people who are not the principle characters or the director feel so ignored in their efforts? That’s not to say that the crew members don’t know what they are signing up for. And, in some ways, perhaps their hard work is recognized the most by not being recognizable. That is to say, you’ll know if the crew is doing their job by how much they blend—or fail to blend—into their film surroundings. Sometimes, the role of a film crew is to make all of the external elements feel so natural that nothing—whether it be the music choices, set decorations, weather, lighting—appears out of place. I suppose it would also be fun to tell friends of yours that you worked for an iconic movie, even if the work that you did was not individually acknowledged by more than a line in the closing credits. And, one could argue, that if a film bombs and does not become the cultural landmark you were hoping/expecting for, you can be spared much of the public shaming that the more prominent faces of the film—principal actors and producers/director—often are subject to. (Really, when have you heard someone walk out of a film and complain, “Wow, that second unit assistant director really ruined the film for me”?)
Reader, what do you think? If you have ever worked for a film as part of the crew (or even if you have not), feel free to express your thoughts down below. Would you want to be the star that gets the majority of the fame? Or would you prefer to contribute in quieter ways?
*Photo Courtesy of creativitymedia.co.uk.