Movie Fact #315 - November 6th, 2021

 

For his 1983 mockumentary Zelig, which is presented as a documentary and recounts the titular character's period of intense celebrity in the 1920's, writer/director/star Woody Allen used newsreel footage, and inserted himself and other actors into it, using bluescreen technology. This virtually seamless blending of old and new footage was achieved almost a decade before digital filmmaking technology made such techniques in films like Forrest Gump (1994) and various television advertisements much easier to accomplish. And this film didn't skimp on detail, despite using this technique in its early stages.


To provide an authentic look to his scenes, Allen and cinematographer Gordon Willis used a variety of techniques, including locating some of the antique film cameras and lenses used during the eras depicted in the film, and even going so far as to simulate damage, such as crinkles and scratches, on the negatives to make the finished product look more like vintage footage. The effects took so long to complete that Allen filmed two films in the meantime, namely A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy and Broadway Danny Rose, the latter of which was Orion Pictures' last film to be released through Warner Bros. Stay tuned!

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