A deep-dive into one of the most expensive shots in cinematic history

Originally published at: A deep-dive into one of the most expensive shots in cinematic history | Boing Boing

4 Likes

I’m somewhat surprised that $80k is an especially expensive shot. But given how short it was …

And I’m somewhat surprised this shot didn’t cost more. Hiring Concord can’t have been cheap and must have been a high proportion of that sum.

6 Likes

Yeah, I’m more interested in how they arranged, specifically, a Concorde landing at sunset than the details of how they set up the shot. How many of those were flying around when they made the movie?

Today, luxury would not be the Concorde, but a private jet.

6 Likes

Gads! Brian DePalma is one of the most overrated directors in Hollywood. Have you ever seen Body Double? 1984 “release” (a time-bomb pun set to go off in the next paragraph). Good Lord! That movie is a prime example of what you can get away with if you have enough money to bump up the production values to the point of fooling people into not thinking they’re watching nothing better than a B- Movie. At best.

After seeing Body Double once (not worth the revisit), there are less than one handful of things that immediately jump back to mind. Melanie Griffith, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, an very large auger bit, and the line: “Where’s the Money Shot?” Consider that the unofficial trailer.

2 Likes

It was an Air France plane so you are correct. Also, Tony Benn changed the British name back to Concorde later on, so you are again correct. But I am with Harold Wilson on this.
:wink:

They made the film in 1990 - the plane was not retired until well over a decade later, so I’d imagine there were enough to go round.

3 Likes

There’s a heck of a lot of detail regarding what went into getting this shot in Julie Salamon’s The Devil’s Candy.
It’s embedded in a ride-along with the process of making Bonfire and well worth a read.

2 Likes

$80k is very far below the bar for an expensive scene. Maybe it is spend per second?
I immediately thought of expensive CGI scenes and sure enough Matrix Reloaded had a scene that reputedly cost $40 million.

See The 5 Most Expensive Movie Scenes In Hollywood History.

3 Likes

Apparently Howard Hall burned through quite a bit of budget just trying to capture the molting process of the Spiny Lobster for his film Into The Deep (1998).

This is likely one of the more expensive shots, when you count the effort leading up to capturing the shot, only to wind up not exposing a single frame of IMAX film, and then to try again and again over the next three months, until success.

(A moviegoer commented about how it was such a “lucky shot” not realizing the monumental efforts of Howard Hall, the boat crew, the camera crew, several marine biologists, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that lead up to finally making the successful shot.)

6 Likes

regarding shots and filmmaking that is simply not done anymore, I had that same thought while watching Patton (a great movie) and Cleopatra (a spectacular-looking movie that sucked – sucked less than BOTV [I’m assuming, here] and looked way more spectacular.)

there’s a shot in Patton, two armies are battling. so, location shot, hundreds of extras on camera. lots of prop vehicles, guns, uniforms. lots of extra crew. everyone has to be transported out into the desert. everyone probably had to be fed at least once.

then a fucking bomber strafes the battlefield. but in order to get it in the shot, it was probably no more than a hundred feet off the ground. and then the explosions go from one side of the frame to the other. in cinemascope. and then think about all the takes where the plane was not in the shot exactly right and the plane had to circle around and the armies had to go back to “one” . and eventually the plane had to land and refuel and take off again. the mind boggles.
do you see how many bits of minutiae had to be co-ordinated to get that shot? no studio will ever fund that type of filmmaking ever again. the money simply isn’t there.

6 Likes

When you’re Brian DePalma’s second unit director, I’m reasonably certain you’ve got Connections you can lean on for making that kind of thing happen.

Always great to see Patrick’s stuff get wider exposure. He’s a pretty great video essayist, and the sketch bits he’s been doing in his videos since the start of the pandemic have been delightful.

1 Like

To use a recent example, Black Widow cost $200 million to make and is 134 minutes long. That’s $1.5 million per minute or $25,000 per second. So, averaged out for the entire movie, each and every 10 seconds of the film cost $250,000.

$80,000? Cheap!

4 Likes

Unless I missed it, the actual video never says anything about the shot being one of the most expensive. It calls it one of the most difficult.

4 Likes

…expensive and it was a shot that did not involve any of the principal actors in the film.

1 Like

$80,000 in 1990 dollars, don’t forget.

The film’s budget was $47 million, which IIRC was expensive for a film that wasn’t a big action movie.

P.S. I’ve now watched the video, which points out that the budget was about the same as for Tim Burton’s Batman.

1 Like

I saw this some days ago. IIRC, he mentions the failure of this movie caused studios to fund adult oriented dramas less lavishly.

2 Likes

It’s fairly high for 10 seconds of B-roll by the 2nd unit. But there was a similarly arguably unnecessary 2nd unit shot on Miami Vice I think cost $100,000 - for a TV show, in the 80s. Something about set dressing a cargo ship for a shot. The American Cinematographer Magazine archives online don’t go back as far as the 80’s, so I can’t double check the info I vaguely remember from reading an article way back then.

So, I’m thinking there are probably lots of other very expensive shots out there.

3 Likes

I expect most of the $80,000 went towards renting a Concorde to fly around JFK. Chartering the Concorde was a thing you could do back when it was flying if you had the cash. Indeed, the ill-fated Air France Flight 4590 was a charter flight for a German cruise company.

Anyways, that you had 30 seconds once a year to get the shot was the crazy hard part, that it also cost $80k for just a few seconds just raised the stakes of getting it right.

3 Likes

You watched the video!?! Wow, kudos to you!

I saw it was 20 minutes of geeking out on one shot from a crappy movie and just went with the post’s headline.

I wonder if I can find a top five list of the most difficult shots.

1 Like

It is quite entertaining and accessible even if you are not a film geek.

3 Likes

I tried and tried to get a picture of concorde landing/taking off showing the undercarriage out…
from heathrow…
think it might have been scuppered by a nikon advert for higher shutter speeds

1 Like