How long did it take to film dirty dancing
Things to Know About Dirty Dancing – Before The Real Dirty Dancing Premieres!
In 1987 a low-budget, semi-autobiographical, well cast, and very well sound-tracked movie premiered. It starred Patrick Swayze, an actor/dancer/martial artist on the rise, and featured so many iconic moments and songs that people are still talking about them over 30 years later. That movie was Dirty Dancing, and this February, FOX is honoring the movie’s enduring legacy with a special four-week event series – The Real Dirty Dancing.
In this series, a group of celebrities will not only learn the dances from the movie and perform them in competition, they’ll also live at the hotel where much of the movie was filmed (Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, VA). They’ll be immersed in a total “Dirty Dancing” experience – and viewers at home will get to experience it all with them.
But before The Real Dirty Dancing premieres (February 1st at 9pm PT), let’s take a few moments to remind ourselves why the original 80’s film was so popular, and why its influence continues to this day.
How It Began
Dirty Dancing was filmed in 1986. It starred Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle and Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman. Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, and Kelly Bishop co-starred. The screenplay was written by Eleanor Bergstein, based in-part on her own experiences growing up as the daughter of a doctor who took his family to the Catskills in the summers. Not only was her nickname Baby, she also competed in “dirty dancing” competitions.
Emile Andolino directed the film, and Kenny Ortega – a student of Gene Kelly – created the choreography. Though the story was set in the 1960’s Catskills, it was actually filmed in Lake Lune, North Carolina (at a former Boy Scout camp) and Mountain Lake, Virginia. Mainly because the majority of resorts in the Catskills had closed down by the 80s.
A Troubled Production
Filming lasted only 43 days. The actors had two weeks of rehearsal beforehand, but it was a low-budget production so only so much time could be spent teaching the actors their dances and lines. There was an end of summer heat wave during the start of the production, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees daily. Many actors succumbed to dehydration and heat stroke, and some even had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. This caused delays that pushed filming into autumn, when the water temperatures dropped to below 40 degrees and the actors had to suffer all over again.
They managed to pull through, however, and the film was edited, viewed, hated, edited again, viewed again, enjoyed, and finally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 1987. It was released into theaters in the US in August of 1987 and quickly gained an enthusiastic audience.
Small Film Hits Big
Dirty Dancing cost around $4.5 million to produce, and earned over $214 million worldwide. Audiences adored the story of the young woman discovering herself and the dance instructor finding acceptance and love. When the film left theaters and became available on home video it lost none of its momentum. Dirty Dancing was the top rental of 1988, and was the first movie to sell over a million copies on video tape.
Audiences weren’t the only ones who loved the movie. It was nominated for “Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy”, as well as “Best Actor” and “Best Actress”, at the 45th Golden Globe Awards. Director Emile Ardolino won “Best First Feature” at the Independent Spirit Awards, and the soundtrack swept up most “Best Original Song” statues.
To this day, Dirty Dancing is still winning accolades from fans, critics, and film societies. The finale dance was awarded “Movie Dance Sequence You Re-enacted in Your Living Room” at the 2008 TV Land Awards, and the American Film Institute (AFI) included the movie on multiple Top Films lists, including “100 Years, 100 Passions”, “100 Years, 100 Songs” (“(I Had) The Time of My Life”), and “100 Years, 100 Movie Quotes” (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”).
Seeking Perfect Cast
In all respects, Dirty Dancing was the little film that could. But why did it strike such a cord with audiences? And why are we still talking about it and referencing it and watching it today? It probably starts with the cast. Emile Ardolino wanted real dancers for his movie (unlike similar film Flashdance that used some body doubles). That meant the stars who would play Johnny, Baby, and Penny (Johnny’s original dance partner) had to have more than a few acting credits in their resumes.
Cynthia Rhodes, who played Penny, was the first person hired for the film. She began her career as a singer and dancer at Opryland USA, then appeared as a dancer in Richard Marx’s “Don’t Mean Nothing” video, as well as Toto’s “Rosana” video (where she worked with Patrick Swayze). She had shown off her acting as well as dancing skills in Staying Alive, the 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever, and in Flashdance (she did not require a body double like some of the other actors). She was basically perfect for the Penny role.
Casting the two leads did not go quite as smoothly. Patrick Swayze was a star on the rise, who began his film career in 1979’s Skatetown USA as a roller-disco competitor, and had gone on to star in some of the biggest films of the early 80s, including The Outsiders and Red Dawn. He was a formally-trained dancer who also studied ice skating and martial arts. He’d been on Broadway (as Danny Zuko in Grease) and was able to perform many of his own stunts. Even though he was 34 years old at the time – and the Johnny character was around 24/25 – he was hired for the part. And then things got complicated.
Swazye had starred with Jennifer Grey in 1984’s Red Dawn, a coming of age/post-apocalypse/action/drama. And she hadn’t liked him. The animosity was so great, in fact, that she had no interest in appearing in another movie with Swayze. But Grey also had a background in dance and theater, and Swayze thought she was an excellent choice for Baby. It took some convincing to get her to agree to a screen test, which blew everyone out of the water with the intense chemistry between the actors. She ended up hired for the role (she was 26 at the time, but seemed convincing as an 18/19 year old), and eventually the actors were able to perform as needed for a couple falling in love.
Recognize Those Songs
The talented cast wasn’t the only thing Dirty Dancing had going for it, of course. It also had an amazing soundtrack. A soundtrack so popular, when it was released in 1987 it went on to sell 32 million copies worldwide. It spent 18 weeks at the top of the US Billboard 200 charts, was certified Platinum eleven times, became the all-time best-selling album in Germany, and, to this day, is one of the best-selling albums of all time in the US. It spawned two follow-up albums – More Dirty Dancing (1988) and Ultimate Dirty Dancing (2003) – and won countless awards.
Original song “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” won the Oscar for “Best Original Song”, Golden Globe for “Best Original Song-Motion Picture”, and the Grammy for “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals” (for Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes). It was also nominated for the “Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television” Grammy. Though it didn’t win as many accolades, “She’s Like the Wind”, written and sung by Patrick Swayze (originally for a different film), was also a fan favorite.
Though it wasn’t asuper common to build franchises out of popular films back in the 80s, Dirty Dancing was beloved enough for a whole universe to form around it. In 1988 the Dirty Dancing Concert Tour visited 90 cities across the US in three months. The short-lived television series sequel to the movie, starring Malora Hardin as Baby and Patrick Cassidy as Johnny, ran from 1988 to 1989. In 2004, Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage began running in Europe, and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, a sort-of prequel to the film, premiered in theaters. Havana Nights starred Diego Luna and Romola Garai as the main couple, whose characters had no connection to the characters from the first film. Patrick Swayze appeared as a dance instructor in the movie, though he had previously refused to do a sequel, even when offered $6 million for it.
The WE: Women’s Entertainment channel produced a reality dance-competition series, Dirty Dancing: Living the Dream, in 2006. It ran for only eight episodes and one season. British dance-competition series Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life proved more popular. Created for the 20th anniversary of the film, the series was filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge (the setting of Kellerman’s Hotel in the movie) and had enough of an audience to run for two seasons. Miranda Garrison, assistant choreographer for the original movie, appeared as one of the judges.
A New York stage production of Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage began a North American run in Canada during 2007. It moved to the US in 2008 and appeared in 31 cities. In 2014 it returned with an Australian and European tour, then made its way back to North America. It returned again with a new production on Broadway in 2017.
In 2010, Funny or Die released a two minute spoof trailer for Dirty Dancing 3: Capoeira Nights, starring Camilla Bell and Jesse Williams as lovers who learn to dance fight – and kick each other in the face. This was followed in 2017 by ABC’s television musical remake of Dirty Dancing, starring Abigail Breslin as Baby and Colt Prattes as Johnny. Billy Dee Williams, Katey Sagal, Debra Messing, and Nicole Scherzinger also appeared. Classic songs and a good cast did not save the production from mostly negative reviews.
No matter how much time has passed, the legacy of Dirty Dancing continues. In 2020, Jennifer Grey was in early talks to reprise her role of Baby in a sequel to the original movie (sadly, Patrick Swazye passed away in 2009 so cannot appear in any new films). And in February 2022, FOX will debut its own dance-competition series based on the songs, dances, and scenes that audiences continue to love.
Hosted by Stephen “tWich” Boss, former contestant/judge/and All-Star from So You Think You Can Dance, and featuring celebrity competitors such as WWE Hall of Fame inductee and Smackdown star Brie Bella, Culinary Hall of Fame inductee and television host Cat Cora, Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough, and former MADtv cast member Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, The Real Dirty Dancing promises iconic dances, surprise guest judges, fantastic music, and moments just as memorable as the original film.
Viewers can tune in Tuesdays at 9pm from February 1st to February 22nd and be transported back to the 80s, when Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman first met over a watermelon, and pop culture history was born.
Dirty Dancing: Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey play around in adorable rehearsal...
1 June 2022, 17:27Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze were cast as Johnny Castle and Frances "Baby" Houseman in 1987's Dirty Dancing and immediately began hours of latin dance rehearsals (pictured). Picture: Lionsgate Movies/Youtube
The video shows Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze practicing their dance moves and larking around for the camera in candid footage from the 1987 hit movie 'Dirty Dancing'.
Dirty Dancing is, without a doubt, one of the best loved and most popular movies of all time.
The classic film, set in 1963 and filmed in upstate New York, was made on a shoestring budget and shot over just 44 days in October of 1986.
The film was first aired at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 and while costing just $5 million to make, has earned over $214 million worldwide.
Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze had just finished filming their first film together Red Dawn when the pair were cast as Johnny Castle and Frances "Baby" Houseman and began hours of latin dance rehearsals for the movie.
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In unearthed footage the pair can be seen practising their sizzling moves over and over again while being overseen by a pair of Dirty Dancing's dance coaches.
The scene then cuts to Patrick and Jennifer trying 'the lift' for the first time in the safety of the studio, eventually completing the difficult move that would become the most famous scene in the movie.
Among numerous reports that Jennifer and Patrick clashed on set, subsequent statements from both the stars and other people who worked on the movie confirmed there were difficulties between the pair.
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Jennifer Grey told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016: "It was our second movie we'd done together within a short time — we did Red Dawn first and then Dirty Dancing. He was a great dancer and he was fearless."His fearlessness with my fearfulness — like his lack of Jewishness and my super Jewishness — together was like a marriage where you have two opposites," Jennifer Grey said about Patrick Swayze. Picture: Lionsgate Movies/Youtube "He smelled really good, his skin was really nice. He was really strong and he was very protective and his heart was very much in it," Jennifer said about her time on the set of Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze. Picture: Lionsgate Movies/Youtube Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey perform on the set of 'Dirty Dancing' in 1987. Picture: Getty
"His fearlessness with my fearfulness — like his lack of Jewishness and my super Jewishness — together was like a marriage where you have two opposites. He'd do anything and I'd be scared to do anything.
"He smelled really good, his skin was really nice. He was really strong and he was very protective and his heart was very much in it," she added.
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Jennifer later said that filming Dirty Dancing in the 1980's was a highlight of her life: "At the time, it felt like it was a loss of innocence but looking back now, it just looks like preschool compared to where we are now in terms of innocence," she told The Hollywood Reporter.
"I think it was a really exciting time. The fashion was terrible, the hair was terrible, but the music was great. "Dirty dancing has become one of the most popular movies of all time, grossing as estimated £214 million at the box office. Picture: Getty
Patrick, on the other hand was more critical of Jennifer and according to The Telegraph wrote of his time on the set of Dirty Dancing in his book The Time of My Life, written just weeks before his death in 2009.
“She seemed particularly emotional, sometimes bursting into tears if someone criticized her,” Swayze said.
“Other times, she slipped into silly moods, forcing us to do scenes over and over again when she’d start laughing.”
Swayze wrote that he “didn’t have a whole lot of patience for doing multiple retakes.”Statements from both the stars and other people who worked on the movie confirmed there were difficulties between the pair on set of the 1987 movie. Picture: Getty
Dirty Dancing's producer Linda Gottlieb didn't mince her words, telling Huffington Post in 2012: “He felt like she was a wimp,” adding, “She was genuine, naïve; you would do a take eight times and Jennifer would do it differently every time.
"Patrick was a pro; he would deliver the same thing again and again. She would cry easily, she was emotional and he sort of made fun of her. He was a macho guy.”
However, choreographer Kenny Ortega told People that the tension added to the chemistry on set: “There was something there between the two of them that was unexplainable. They were human fireworks."
How "Dirty Dancing" was filmed - The Burning Hut
In 1987, the film "Dirty Dancing" was released. He gained cult status, brought fame to Patrick Swayze and firmly entrenched in pop culture. The final support is quoted in commercials, and Baby and Johnny are danced at weddings. The soundtrack has become perhaps more famous than the film itself. We tell you what difficulties its creators Linda Gottlieb and Eleanor Bergstein had to go through and how they filmed the most recognizable scenes of the film Dirty Dancing.
"Dirty Dancing is a million dollar title." How did the idea of the film
It all started with dancing. Screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein in her youth disappeared in clubs where they loved dirty dancing - passionate, not like the popular mambo, pachanga or cha-cha-cha. In a Netflix documentary, she revealed that she first tried to bring sexy dancing to the big screen in 1980. It was a melodrama "Now it's my turn" with Michael Douglas and Jill Clayberg in the lead roles. In the script, Bergstein wrote a seductive dance scene, but the director cut it out and went straight to the main thing - sex. Then Eleanor Bergstein decided to come up with a plot from which dancing could not be removed. Thus was born the idea of a film about two sisters vacationing with their parents at an expensive resort.
Bergstein drew on her own childhood memories. She and her parents often spent summers at the Catskills resort and spent whole days in the dance studio. Everyone called her Baby, although her parents gave her the serious name Eleanor in honor of Eleanor Roosevelt. (The movie baby's real name is Frances, after Frances Perkins, the first woman in the US Cabinet.)
"I took a lot of my life for the movie, but it's not my life story."
Eleanor Bergstein interviewed for Netflix Documentary
Eleanor shared the idea for the film with producer Linda Gottlieb. Linda was not impressed by the story. She asked Eleanor to tell more about herself. “I grew up in Brooklyn, my father was a doctor, and I was one of those teenagers who danced dirty dances in the evenings,” Eleanor replied. Dirty Dancing is a million dollar title! Now we’ll make up a story,” Linda decided.
The script was completed in 1985. It turned out to be a complex, deep movie, in which, in addition to dancing, the problems of social inequality and clandestine abortions are raised.
“If you make a documentary about illegal abortions, only those who already agree with you will see it. But if you put this story into a musical full of romance and beautiful clothes, it will surprise people, make them think about things that they have not thought about before.”
Eleanor Bergstein in an interview with Gender Across Borders
Too girly movie.How Linda Gottlieb got 42 rejections from film studios
When the script was ready, Linda began to look for a company that would take on the filming. She was determined. I brought the script to large companies and smaller companies. In the Netflix documentary, the producer recalled receiving 42 rejections. At 19In 86, dynamic action movies were popular: Platoon, Highlander, Crocodile Dundee. Therefore, representatives of the studios did not see the potential of the script - "this is too girly movie."
Linda Gottlieb was ready to give up. But then she got a call from Vestron Video. The company was engaged in low-quality films that were not shown in cinemas and were released only on video cassettes. But big companies also started making cassettes for home viewing. In order to remain competitive, Vestron Video decided to produce its own big film for theatrical release.
The company was getting rejected scripts from other studios by the truckload. And in that pile, producer Mitchel Cannold found the script for Dirty Dancing. He, like screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, spent his childhood in the Catskills resort. He liked the atmosphere of the script, he understood all the jokes and hidden meanings. And he was ready to start filming.
Emil Ardolino was invited as a director. He was an accomplished documentary filmmaker, winning an Oscar in 1984 for a film about child dancers, He Teaches Me to Feel the Dance. Ardolino never directed feature films. But he himself was a dancer and felt the mood of the film.
“I love dancing. I love music. In the film, it is the dance that moves the plot forward and reveals the characters.”
Emil Ardolino in an interview with The New York Times
Kenny Ortega became the main choreographer. Patrick Swayze, who played Johnny, wrote in his autobiography that Kenny charged everyone with his energy. “He always danced with a big smile on his face, and everyone around enjoyed rehearsing and filming despite being tired.” Ortega knew how to improvise, combined different directions: jazz, swing, salsa. And it was what you need for the filming of a film like Dirty Dancing.
"Wish me luck daddy." Finding the Perfect Baby and Johnny
It seems that Dirty Dancing's success was largely due to the chemistry between the main characters: Baby, played by Jennifer Gray, and Johnny, played by Patrick Swayze. It's hard to imagine, but the roles could have gone to other actors.
The trials were not easy. Eleanor Bergstein had a clear idea of what Baby should be. She was looking for a young, fragile girl with long wavy hair. For the role, for example, Winona Ryder and Sarah Jessica Parker auditioned.
Winona Ryder / Shutterstock / Featureflash Photo Agency
Sarah Jessica Parker / Shutterstock / Featureflash Photo Agency
But when Linda and Eleanor saw Jennifer Grey, all the other candidates were immediately eliminated. She was brought to audition by her father, actor Joel Grey. In an interview with Netflix, Linda and Eleanor revealed that Jennifer walked into the pavilion, turned to her father and said, "Wish me luck, daddy." And then they realized that in front of them was the real Baby. Prior to this, the actress played only supporting roles. She moved well, but did not dance professionally.
For the role of Johnny Castle, they were looking for an actor who looks good and dances really well. Billy Zane and Benicio Del Toro auditioned. But the film crew did not like something.
Billy Zane / Shutterstock / Tinseltown
Benicio del Toro / Shutterstock / Everett Collection
As a result, the role went to the son of a cowboy and ballerina, former professional dancer Patrick Swayze. During the audition, the actor doubted whether he should play in this film. Swayze ended his dancing career due to a serious knee injury and did not want to risk his leg for the film. Patrick's wife Lisa Niemi recalled that he also strongly disliked the title: "It's a film about a stripper!". The script seemed to Swayze simple, shallow, in need of improvement: “There is potential, but are the author and director ready to make changes?”
On the other hand, Patrick liked the role of Johnny Castle. Swayze grew up in a poor family. Dancing was an opportunity for him to escape into another world. And he understood and shared the feelings of Johnny, harsh on the outside, but vulnerable on the inside.
"I didn't play Johnny during the audition, I was him."
Patrick Swayze in his autobiography
Vestron Video had the last word. It was important that Baby and Johnny fit together. Two couples watched in the final: Billy Zane with Sarah Jessica Parker and Patrick Swayze with Jennifer Grey. Everything depended on these double trials.
In his autobiography, Swayze said that he and Jennifer had already starred together in 1984's Red Dawn. Their relationship didn't go well during those shoots. Perhaps that is why Jennifer was somewhat constrained on joint tests. Patrick wrote that he "wanted her to feel freer in the dance, dissolve in it and not feel awkward."
In the pair of Jennifer and Patrick, the authors of the film saw exactly what was needed: an experienced dancer and a young girl, gradually revealing her beauty and confidence.
The film crew was looking for actors the viewer would believe in a relationship between / Still from Dirty Dancing (1987)
“Real life caught on film”.As a documentary filmmaker, he decided to include recordings of rehearsals in the film.
Filming began on September 5, 1986. To fit on a small budget, the film was filmed in two locations: at the Mountain Lake Lordge resort and at a Boy Scout camp in North Carolina. It was necessary to combine these places on the film somehow. And the decorators came up with the idea of installing small white lanterns in both locations. They tied the sets together and gave the impression that the film was filmed in one place.
White lanterns helped to tie the different sets together. A scene from the movie Dirty Dancing. 1987
Filming participants remember that there was a special atmosphere on the set. Swayze wrote in his memoirs that they worked hard, but it was a lot of fun. Especially when filming scenes with dirty dancing.
“It was like a party. It sounds like rock 'n' roll and everyone is sweating on the dance floor."
Patrick Swayze in his autobiography
Perhaps the film turned out so sincere because a lot of things actually happened for real. Patrick Swayze taught Jennifer Gray how to dance. Something didn't work for her. He got angry. The actors quarreled. Documentary maker Emil Ardolino used such situations for the benefit of the film: he turned on the camera and recorded rehearsals. Some spontaneously filmed scenes ended up in the film.
Jennifer Gray said that one of her favorite moments is when Johnny teaches Baby a dance move and strokes her arm. The actors rehearsed this move over and over again, but Jennifer couldn't stop laughing. Patrick's disappointment in this scene is genuine. "This is one of the moments when real life got on film," Gray recalled.
One of the most famous moments was captured by accident during a rehearsal / Still from Dirty Dancing (1987)
"No one pushes Baby into a corner." How the film suddenly came to success
Oddly enough, the finished film initially showed poor results. The closed screening of the rough cut in front of the producers of the film company failed. Someone even advised director Emil Ardolino to burn the film in order to at least get insurance.
The film company spent a lot of money on filming and was not going to refuse the project so easily. Despite the producer's bad reviews, they organized a test screening for 1000 spectators. And they were delighted!
The film was promoted as a teenage film, but adults also came to the cinema halls. For nineteen consecutive weekends, Dirty Dancing remained the leader of the box office. Sold 270,000 soundtrack records. With a budget of about six million dollars, the film grossed $214 million worldwide. And continues to bring money to this day.
Johnny's final line "Nobody pushes Baby into a corner" (which, by the way, Patrick didn't like and seemed banal) became the most famous quote from the film. She was included in the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute.
A musical based on the film. Filmed a remake of Dirty Dancing. Havana Nights. And the final dance with support at the end has become one of the most recognizable episodes of the cinema of the twentieth century. And this incredible success story began with an idea from Eleanor Bergstein.
“I didn't really hope that anyone would watch this film, and even less that it would change someone. But I put everything that was important to me into it. ”
Eleanor Bergstein in an interview with Greenwich
Cover: frame from the film "Dirty Dancing"
how poor authors made expensive films - Movies and series on DTF
Stories of the most successful low-budget films.
Money is not everything. The films from this selection had a low budget, but this did not stop them from appealing to the public and earning millions at the box office. We tell what their creators went to in order to reduce spending.
Why did the authors of "Mad Max" sweep the roads between filming and how members of the production team of the film "Halloween" brought relatives to filming. What did the cast of "Dirty Dancing" feed on and how much did the thriller "The Blair Witch Project" actually cost.
Budget: 325 thousand dollars, fees: 70 million dollars.
In 1976, independent producer Irvin Jablans was flying home from a film festival in Milan. In Europe, he took John Carpenter's film "Assault on the 13th Precinct", which failed at the box office everywhere except the UK. The distribution company there was run by Michael Myers, a gentleman with whom Jablance became friends. On the way back from the festival, the producer spent the entire flight thinking about what his next film would be about.
I was looking for an idea that wouldn't cost me money because I didn't have any. I couldn't afford to buy [the rights to] a play or a book. Coincidentally, it was Halloween night.
Irvin Yablans, Producer
He came up with the idea of making a horror film about a madman who stalks and kills nannies. Yablans was sure that the topic was close to everyone: someone worked part-time by sitting with a child, and someone had a babysitter in childhood. By the time the plane landed, the producer was already calling John Carpenter with the idea for his next film: The Babysitter Murders.
The director was also looking for a project at that time, so he immediately got involved in the work. Under the terms of the deal, Yablans became executive producer and provided a budget of $300,000, which he was able to raise with Syrian financier Mustafa Akkad. Interestingly, he also produced all the continuations of the film, until in 2005 he died in the lobby of the Amman Grand Hyatt hotel, where a suicide bomber burst into.
Carpenter agreed to write and direct the film for $10,000 and 10% of potential profits. The director invited his then girlfriend Debra Hill, who also became the producer of the tape, to work on the plot.
Debra Hill and John Carpenter
In two weeks, they wrote together a story about six-year-old Michael Myers (he received his name in honor of the same British producer), who, for the massacre of his older sister, spent fifteen years in a psychiatric hospital and escaped from there to return to kill in his hometown.
The budget was too small even for a horror film of those years (now it is about 1.5 million dollars), so you could forget about movie stars. Christopher Lee was invited to the role of psychiatrist Sam Loomis, but because of the meager fee, the actor refused, which he later regretted all his life. Donald Pleasence, well known for his role as the villain Blofeld in the fifth part of the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, agreed to star. For five days of filming, he was paid twenty thousand dollars.
A certain spirit of stardom was brought into the film by aspiring actress Jamie Lee Curtis, for whom "Halloween" was her debut on the big screen. The girl had previously appeared only in episodic roles on television, but she had famous parents - Janet Leigh ("Psycho") and Tony Curtis ("Bound in One Chain"). The director had no idea who she was, but Debra Hill persuaded her to take.
I knew that Jamie Lee's participation would be good publicity for the film because her mother was in Psycho.
Debra Hill, Halloween co-writer and producer
For the film, the actress received eight thousand dollars. Nick Castle, who played Myers, generally agreed to work for $25 a day. Filming lasted only 22 days - the group was in a hurry to release the film on Halloween eve.
Casting was severely limited due to lack of funds. To help the creators, members of the film crew, who usually remain behind the scenes, starred in the film. For example, the scene in which six-year-old Myers kills his older sister was filmed in the evening, when the shift of the small actor had already ended. Debra Hill came to the rescue.
We couldn't afford to hire another kid to hold the knife that night, so Michael Myers' sister was stabbed to death by my hand. I just had the smallest hands.
Debra Hill, Halloween co-writer and producer
The authors invited to the site not only the members of the film crew, but also members of their families and friends. The children walking on the street in the film are the children of the film crew. They also used their own cars. An old friend of Carpenter's, Tommy Lee Wallace, also joined the film crew, who was listed as the production designer, but was responsible for the costumes, locations, and even editing. It was he who was instructed to come up with a mask under which the killer would hide.
Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek and themask
She was supposed to be without the slightest hint of a smile, faceless - and such that from a distance she could be mistaken for a human face. First they tried the clown mask, but it, albeit creepy, did not produce the desired effect. Wallace then offered to buy a mask of Captain Kirk from Star Trek at a party store. The director approved the idea, especially since the issue price was 1.98 dollars.
He cut the holes for the eyes wider and painted the mask bluish-white. The script stated that Michael Myers' mask had "pale human features" and looked very creepy.
John Carpenter, director
Almost the entire cast was filmed in their own clothes. The exception was Lee Curtis: $ 100 was allocated for her wardrobe, which she spent in a budget chain store. The purchased items fully corresponded to the social status of Laurie, played by the actress: her character was a simple babysitter from an average American family.
When it came to composing the music, Carpenter took over the role. The director did not know the notes, but he knew how to play the synthesizer. He later said that he had no choice and that it was "the fastest and cheapest option he could find." In three days, he wrote a simple motif, which for many has become a symbol of the horror genre.
Then a chain of coincidences began: in part, it was she who led Halloween to a grand success. First, the producers changed the title: they considered that by that time the word "Halloween" had never been used in the title of the film. In addition, they noted that words and names that betrayed gender, such as "Carrie", were more likely to contribute to a good release. To attract attention, the authors decided to go from the opposite: in the case of "Halloween" it was the unusual name that should have attracted the viewer.
The huge success of Jaws (1975) and The Omen (1976) also played into the hands of the producers: in the 1970s, the audience was interested in horror. In addition, the main advertising poster was recognized as very successful.
However, all the major studios refused to distribute the film, and Jablans did it himself, with the help of his independent film company. The premiere took place in Kansas City on October 25, 1978. Critics reacted immediately, comparing "Halloween" in tension with Hitchcock's "Psycho".
The press wrote that thanks to the director's findings, this horror film undoubtedly acquires artistic value. The viewer has a sense of presence due to shooting from the first person through the slits in the mask, and long-term plans were successful due to the new steadicam technology, which stabilizes the camera in motion.
The film managed to collect a huge box office - 47 million dollars in the US and 23 million outside the country. It received eight sequels, but none of them could come close to the original in terms of results. "Halloween" became one of the progenitors of the slasher genre and opened the so-called "golden period" in it. In the years since Halloween premiered, many similar films have been released, including When a Stranger Calls, Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Burning.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Budget: $6M, Grossing: $213.9M.
The plot of the melodrama "Dirty Dancing" is largely based on the biography of the scriptwriter Eleanor Bergsteen. Like the heroine of the film, she was born into a Jewish family; her father was a doctor and she had an older sister. Every summer the family spent at the Catskill boarding house, where the girls participated in various circles and competitions.
True, there were no dance classes among them, but dancing was one of Bergsteen's serious hobbies: the girl was a mambo champion and even taught at Arthur Murray's studio for some time. But the nickname "Babe" during the holidays in the boarding house really stuck to Bergsteen.
Nevertheless, dancing remained only a hobby of Bergsteen: in the 1970s she became a writer. In 1980, her first script was made into the film Now It's My Turn, starring Michael Douglas. Then, in the episode of seduction, Bergsteen prescribed an erotic dance scene, which was cut out during editing.
A few years later, I was walking down the street and I ran into a member of the Now My Move crew. He said, "I remember how you taught us the dirty dance."
Elinor Bergsteen, writer
The phrase got stuck in Bergsteen's head and she had the idea for a film about dancing. She decided to remember her youth and experiment with music: when she and her husband received guests, she turned on different songs and watched their reaction. If her friends got up to dance, she would save that music for a future story she hadn't even thought of yet. She always said that music came first.
While developing the script, Bergsteen contacted MGM, who liked the idea of a dance film.
Eleanor and I were having lunch and she told me she wanted to do a dance story about two sisters. She talked about the Catskills and tango dancing in the early 1960s. She then said, "I did dirty dancing, but that has nothing to do with the plot." I dropped my fork and said, "Dirty Dancing is a million dollar title."
Linda Gottlieb, Producer MGM
When the final version of the story was ready, opinions at the studio were divided. Women were delighted: the plot resonated with them, and they supported the film, which could not be said about men. They liked the cassette of music that Bergsteen included with the script better.
Studio producer Eileen Maisel defended the project, but MGM began to reshuffle and lost her job. Despite Linda Gottlieb's best efforts, MGM changed its mind about making the film. Gradually, Hollywood studios, one after another, began to refuse Bergsteen. The situation looked hopeless until the writer's agent, in desperation, sent the script to film distributor Vestron. The company was going through hard times and decided to make low-budget films that they themselves would distribute.
While the average budget for a film was then $15 million to $25 million, Vestron offered Bergsteen about $5 million. The New York union film crew alone would have to pay half that amount. So Gottlieb hired a non-union crew and coordinated filming in Virginia and North Carolina. The film cost $5.2 million to produce.
It was also impossible to invite Hollywood stars, so the then little-known Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were taken into the film.
I had to save on everything: dances, for example, were filmed at rehearsals, and if everything went without errors, the necessary takes were left in the film. Thanks to this, an episode was included in the melodrama in which Patrick Swayze slowly runs his fingers along the inside of Jennifer Grey's arm, and she starts to laugh - the actress was actually very ticklish. All attempts to rehearse the dance were included in the final version of the film.
I fed them peanut butter and crackers because we couldn't afford catering. And then I crawled through them, stood on a chair and said: "You are the heart and soul of the film." And then locked them inside in case they tried to escape.
Elinor Bergsteen, writer
Salvation seemed to come when the acne company Clearasil offered to help promote the film. However, when its representatives found out that there was a line with an abortion in the plot, they set a condition: either this episode would be removed from the script, or they would cancel the contract.
Bergstein categorically refused to change anything. She explained that without this moment, the entire plot of the film comes under attack - the reason why Babe agreed to replace the protagonist's partner in the dance becomes unclear. As a result, the contract with Clearasil was terminated.
It is worth paying tribute to the courage of the creators - then the films diligently avoided the topic of abortion. Later, the authors noted that it was this line in such a frivolous movie that became one of the components of the success of the entire film.
The audience fell in love with Dirty Dancing, but much later. But the test audience reacted extremely negatively to both the abortion line and the frank dances themselves. The filmmakers were shocked. For advice, they turned to producer Aaron Russo, who, after seeing the picture, suggested:
Burn the only copy and collect the insurance money.
Vestron's producers did not take Russo's advice, but decided to show Dirty Dancing for only one weekend "so as not to embarrass themselves too much" and then release the film on video. The picture was released in August 1987 and for the first weekend collected more than $ 9 million.
The film stayed in theaters for a long time, earning over $63 million in the US and about $170 million worldwide. The soundtrack gained particular popularity: the song "The Time of Your Life" immediately topped the Billboard 200 chart and stayed there for 18 weeks. The track was also liked by critics, and then received an Oscar as the best song for the film. The soundtrack from "Dirty Dancing" became the fifth best-seller of all time.
Mad Max (1979)
Budget: 200 thousand dollars, fees: almost 100 million dollars.
A doctor by training, George Miller worked in the emergency department of a hospital in Sydney and was constantly dealing with injuries sustained on the roads. Many patients died after them or became disabled for life. In addition, three friends of Miller died in an accident when he was still a teenager. Therefore, the topic of road tragedies was very close to him.
Miller attended film school in the 1970s, where he met aspiring producer Byron Kennedy. He offered him the idea of a film about the confrontation between bikers and road control services. The plot was also based on another problem that was relevant for that time: Australia, like the whole world, was experiencing a fuel crisis, which caused a shortage of gasoline in it.
I lived in a very beautiful and peaceful city of Melbourne. But during the situation with OPEC and fuel shortages, when only emergency workers, hospital staff and police could get gasoline, just ten days later, the first shot rang out in this peaceful city. And I thought: “What if the situation continues for ten years?”
George Miller, director
All the local newspapers wrote about it, as well as the American journalist James McCausland, who moved to work in Australia. He himself more than once witnessed fights between drivers who could not share gasoline. In addition, the Australian government did not want to invest in road repairs - and after all, they were no longer suitable for high-speed cars, which constantly led to accidents.
Miller realized that he was close to the thoughts of a journalist, and invited McCausland to write a script for the future "Mad Max". The journalist agreed to work for three and a half thousand Australian dollars a year: not that an impressive amount meant that he would not quit his main job and would write the script in his spare time.
Miller himself continued to work as a doctor in order to save all the money for the production of the film. Filming was done by a film company founded by him and his friends. It took more than a year to write the script and raise A$350,000.
The action of the picture takes place in the near future. People are ready to kill for fuel, and only a special patrol can somehow stop the crime. The landscapes in the film gave the impression of a post-apocalyptic world. Miller was told that he was almost the first to portray the post-apocalypse on the screen.
But the truth is, we couldn't afford to shoot the first Mad Max on today's streets. After all, they need extras, buildings and all this equipment, so we shot on deserted streets and in dilapidated buildings that cost us nothing. To explain this disintegrating world, I simply put the caption: "In a few years ...", so it all arose out of necessity.
George Miller, director
The filmmakers couldn't even afford couriers, so they delivered the script to the actors themselves. Mel Gibson generally got into the picture by accident - giving a ride to a friend who was in a hurry to audition. The casting agency said that the film needed different "freaks", and invited Gibson to take a picture and see if his texture would appeal to the team.
Later, Miller suggested that Gibson try out for the lead role and gave him a two-page dialogue to memorize. The actor improvised as best he could, and in the end the director accepted him. Gibson's fee amounted to 15 thousand Australian dollars.
Real motorcycle enthusiasts from local clubs in Melbourne acted as bikers. But the filmmakers could not pay for their flight to Sydney, so they had to ride motorcycles all the way: this became a “rehearsal” of biker races for the picture.
All cars on set were regular cars of the time, only slightly modified. The car, which was to be cut with axes, was generally obtained for nothing, since it was going to be scrapped.
In the course of filming, the money inexorably ran out, and Miller offered to pay some bikers, drivers and assistants on the set to pay for the work with packs of beer. Although the director himself undertook to help in any way possible in order to save on staff: for example, he and producer Kennedy had to sweep roads at night after filming car accidents.
"Mad Max" was unexpectedly helped by director Sam Peckinpah: after the production of the film "Escape" (1972), he was left with damaged camera lenses on the set. Unnecessary equipment was written off and sent to Australia, where the Max team took it. Later, critics admired the director's decision to shoot on a 35 mm camera, although he simply had no choice - he could only afford it. The budget was not enough to complete the production.
The film was edited in an apartment we borrowed from a friend. [Kennedy] edited the sound in the living room and I edited the picture in the kitchen.
George Miller, director
But it was worth it: "Mad Max" brought its creators about $ 100 million. The audience liked the unusual combination of current problems and the world of the future, the brutality of the murders and the heartfelt story of the protagonist. For many years, "Mad Max" became the leader among films in terms of the most successful ratio of investments and profits, until in 2000 it was moved from the first place by the horror film "The Blair Witch Project: Coursework from the Other World."
Blair Witch: Coursework from the Other World (1999)
Budget: 60 thousand dollars, fees: 248.6 million dollars.
University of Central Florida film students Daniel Mirik and Eduardo Sanchez came up with a new horror film concept in 1991. The idea was to send some actors into the woods to make a pseudo-documentary thriller on their own and without a script.
In the era before social media, the concept sounded absurd and seemed doomed to fail. But the authors had nothing to lose - except for a couple of tens of thousands of dollars, which they collected over the course of several years.
In 1997 they officially announced the casting. The authors were looking for aspiring actors in good physical and psychological shape, ready to fit into the adventure.
Those who came to the casting were not asked to show their work or demonstrate their abilities, they were asked one question: “You have served ten years out of twenty in prison, you have the opportunity to get out on parole. What will you say to let you go?"
During the year of pre-production, only Heather after asking "Why do you think you should be released on parole?" looked me straight in the eyes and said, "I don't think I should be let go. "
Daniel Mirik, director
In addition to Heather Donahue, two more young people were selected - Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams. As planned, students in search of information about the witch come to the city of Burkittsville, built on the site of the village of Blair. According to local legend, an old woman lived there several hundred years ago. But even after her death, her spirit did not leave Blair, which was proved by the regular disappearances and murders of children.
The actors had to communicate with both real locals and fake crew members, which Heather, Joshua and Michael had no idea about. Before filming, the authors took them to Maryland, where they intended to shoot the film. They showed them where the events of the myth unfolded.
Only Heather was given information about the witch: the girl was given the role of an expert on the history of the village of Blair. The actors were told only the basis of the plot, and they had to come up with dialogues on the go. Filming took place in the forest, where students set up a campsite. Separate money was allocated for security.
Gregg ( film producer - approx. DTF ) was in charge of all the GPS waypoint navigation and ensuring that the actors moved through the forest without our help. He was supposed to teach them how to work with a GPS tracker and other things - the basics of survival, basic safety rules: for example, what to do if something happens.
Eduardo Sanchez, director
It was originally planned that the film crew would monitor the cast and control the process, literally hiding behind a bush. In fact, they only interfered with the actors, so they quickly abandoned the idea and simply waited until they could watch the footage.
If further instructions were to be conveyed to the actors, the filmmakers hid notes for them, and often this was kept secret even from filming partners.
The night I was supposed to leave, the filmmakers left me a note instructing me to wait until everyone was tired and slip out of the tent. I remember it said, "If anyone wakes up, tell them you want to go to the bathroom and get out of there as fast as you can." I ran to Ed, Dan and Gregg, who were already waiting for me. They put me in the car and said I was going home.
Joshua Leonard, actor
Filming lasted only eight days, and the actors had less and less food. But they were limited in nutrition not only for the sake of economy: this is how the filmmakers tried to put the actors in an unusual situation and get the right emotions from them. With such a meager budget, it was impossible to dream of any special effects, so the members of the film crew simply pissed off the cast in various ways. The critics were ecstatic.
One of them detects slime on the backpack. With their imaginations fired up by talk of witches, hermits, and child killers in the woods, with dwindling food supplies and a fading campfire, they (and we) are a lot more scared than if they were just being chased by some guy in a ski mask.
Roger Ebert, film critic
By the end of filming, there was no money left at all, so they decided to make the finale very classic for horror - to bring the characters to the dark basement of an abandoned house. True, it was not possible to finish the picture from the first take: when Heather was pushed and the camera was pulled out of her, she was so frightened that she became numb. The natural reaction was excellent, but useless for cinema.
Before presenting The Blair Witch Project: Coursework from the Other World at the Sundance Independent Film Festival, the creators launched a viral advertisement. As a marketing ploy, they said that the film is a real footage of three lost students who were never found. But the camera was accidentally discovered in the forest and handed over to Heather's mother: she allegedly asked Mirik and Sanchez to make a film out of the recordings.
The authors created a website where you could find all the information about the missing. They also outlined the biography of students and the legendary witch from Blair. When the film was brought to the festival, about 10 thousand people had already subscribed to the site, which for 1999 was pretty good. In addition, the creators printed out posters that are usually handed out and pasted up when they are looking for missing people. About $100,000 was spent on marketing.
The idea of the creators of The Blair Witch Project eventually worked, but this is possible only once: the public believed in the reality of what was happening and experienced every minute of the picture, thinking that they were watching a documentary. When the truth was revealed, the public was shocked, but no one was offended by the authors. The success with the audience attracted the attention of Artisan Entertainment, which bought the distribution rights from the creators for one million dollars.
Artisan Entertainment invested about half a million dollars in the film. She made a new sound, made us reshoot a few scenes. The staff didn't like the original ending with Michael standing in the corner. They asked to shoot new endings - Michael hanged himself, Michael was crucified on a large wooden figure, Michael was covered in blood in a torn shirt. We filmed everything, but they returned to the original version. So the budget for what you see in theaters is probably between $500,000 and $750,000.
Eduardo Sanchez, director
In the US, the film grossed over $140 million, with total grosses of over $248 million. In cinema, he had a special role: he gave hope for success to every author who has an idea, but no funds.
Budget: $1.2 million Grossing: $103.1 million.
A chance meeting between two students James Wan and Leigh Whannell at the Melbourne Film School resulted in one of the most successful thrillers in cinema, Saw.
As is often the case, young people did not even think that their lives would be connected with horror films. While studying at school, each of them saw himself in Hollywood.
You really start to believe, "Wow, I'll be the next Steven Spielberg." Then, of course, you graduate from film school and two months later you work for some guy editing wedding videos. And you're like, “Oh my God, this is real. Now this is my life."
Leigh Whannell, screenwriter
This reality clearly did not suit the young filmmakers, and they decided to follow the example of the authors of "The Blair Witch Project": to save money doing jobs they do not like, and to shoot something in their own style, with which the viewer could associate them. The inspiration for young people then served as directors Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez, who filmed exactly what they wanted.
Wan and Whannell started work when they saved up five thousand Australian dollars (about two thousand US dollars), but for a long time they could not decide on the idea. Filmmakers immediately agreed that the plot should be liked by both.
In the end, Wang chose three options. In the first one there was some kind of astral projection, but it was still difficult for them to remove it. The second story was about a guy who wakes up all scratched up in the morning and puts a camera in the evening to find out what is happening to him. Finally, the third idea was:
Simple concept: two guys in a room with a corpse on the floor between them. They have a gun and a tape recorder. And I said to Lee, "I don't know what's going on, but I know the ending, it's going to be blah blah blah." I knew there would be an unexpected twist at the end, but what would happen between those two moments, I had no idea.
James Wan, director
Whannell realized that there was something in this and agreed to develop the plot. He set a single condition for a friend: the film would have to be called Saw. Wang didn't mind.
Whannell got the idea for Jigsaw during a hospital appointment. The screenwriter was then 24 years old, and endless migraines began to bother him. The young man immediately went to the doctors, and he was sent for an MRI. Sitting in the waiting room, Whannell watched the patients; some were given horrific diagnoses. He thought: what if in the place of a terminally ill person there is a psychopath who has nothing to lose?
This guy will not be like a doctor who says "You have a year left to live, try to enjoy it." He himself will immerse people in extraordinary circumstances and say: “You have ten minutes left to live. How will you spend them? Will you try to save yourself?"
Leigh Whannell, screenwriter
Such a hero fits perfectly into the concept that Wang proposed. Another character in the film - the orderly Zepp Hindle, who helped the villain kidnap people - had a real prototype. In an interview, James Wan said: in his youth, he read a story about a man who climbed into other people's houses and tickled the heels of the tenants. When he was arrested, he admitted to the police that he was forced to do it by sending instructions on puzzle pieces.
When the young people finished writing the script, they still had no idea how to shoot it. All they were sure of was that Wang should direct and Whannell play the lead role. To prove their assumption, they filmed an episode that will become the hallmark of the picture.
But in the early 90s things were not going well in Australian cinema, and even those who were interested in the project could not find money for it. Then the creative duet decided to go to the USA.
When we arrived in Los Angeles, we had the script in one hand and the DVD in the other. People like the script, but they like the disc better. As we quickly learned, many people in Los Angeles have an attention deficit. Reading the script is unbearably boring, it's like a nightmare.
Leigh Whannell, screenwriter
In Hollywood, things went much better for aspiring filmmakers: several studios became interested in the idea of Van and Whannell at once. The problem was that none of the bosses saw them as a director and actor. Only one company, Twisted Pictures, agreed to give them the opportunity to make and act in their own film.
Despite the fact that young people could sell the script for more, for the sake of being able to do everything themselves, they agreed to a small budget and started filming.
If you select DreamWorks, you will receive their version of the film. Something like: “This summer, Michael Bay presents Saw. Starring Josh Hartnett and Michael Douglas. The trailer would definitely have racing cars, and maybe even a doll would sit behind the wheel of one of them.
Leigh Whannell, screenwriter
The budget was 1.2 million dollars, but only 700 thousand were spent on production - the producers knew what to save on. According to the plot, almost all the action takes place in only one place, where two people are chained.
There were only 14 speaking characters in the script. If someone needed to be shown from afar or briefly, other people from the cast were involved.
We were based in one of our Los Angeles businesses, a gigantic old textile factory converted into manufacturing facilities. We only built a toilet: the rest of the locations existed inside or around the facility. To perform important operations on the set, we took experienced people with whom we had already worked, and also took the risk of hiring newcomers for key creative positions - production designer, cameraman, editor, and so on.
Mark Burg, co-founder of Twisted Pictures
Due to the low budget, Wang had a severely limited number of takes - no more than two for each actor. Therefore, the director is offended when "Saw" is compared with the thriller "Seven" in favor of the latter: Fincher could afford several dozen takes.
James Wan and Leigh Whannell waived their fees, agreeing to work for a percentage of the profits. In fact, it was a big risk for them: "Saw" was considered an ordinary low-budget independent horror film, and nothing foreshadowed its success. Initially, it was even planned to be released only on video.
But in January 2004, the audience at the Sundance Film Festival was suddenly delighted with what they saw. They decided to roll the film in cinemas, and for good reason: for the first weekend in October of the same year, Saw collected more than $ 18 million, skipping ahead only the thriller The Damnation (for him it was the second week of rental) and Ray, a drama about musician Ray Charles.
In just a couple of months, the horror film managed to collect more than 55 million dollars. Another 48 million added worldwide fees. Already in 2005, the continuation of "Saw" was released, the budget of which reached four million, and the fees - 147 million. In 2010, the franchise got into the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful thriller, having collected more than $ 733 million by that time.