Filmmaking is never easy. An experienced director could make a tiny movie over a few weeks with minimal actors and it would still be a nightmare to organise funding, hiring an ensemble, writing a script, putting together a crew, and constructing sets. It doesn’t matter if you filmed dozens of movies or you’ve been in show business for half a century – directing is one of the hardest jobs in the world.
And yet, there are some directors who went beyond the call of duty to get their work greenlit, filmed, or released. Productions can fall into chaos due to money problems, studio interference, or actors refusing to perform the most reasonable requests. When this happens, the director, like a captain caught in a storm, must take charge before losing control. To get things back on track, filmmakers will do anything they can. Directors have sold their bodies for funding, filmed scenes in secret, or reshot entire chunks of their movie to ensure their work saw the light of day. Here are ten directors who went to crazy lengths to get their movies made.
Orson Welles Pretended He Wasn’t Filming Scenes That The Producers Hated – Citizen Kane
For most of his career, Orson Welles’ work was hampered by producers. But because of his non-interference contract over Citizen Kane, the studio couldn’t alter a single frame of the finished film.
But, man, did they try!
Because Welles’ magnum opus is based on William Randolph Hearst, the media mogul did everything in his power to destroy the production. Terrified at suffering Hearst’s wrath, the film executives did all they could to ensure Welles didn’t depict him in a negative light. When they showed up unannounced on set and saw scenes they didn’t like, Welles pretended the actors were merely rehearsing. The studio suspected this and so, sent spies to the set. Welles got wind of this and had his crew play softball until the spies left!
During filming, Welles was informed that Hearst had arranged a naked woman to jump at him when he entered his hotel room while one of Hearst’s men took a picture. Knowing this photograph would besmirch his reputation, Welles slept elsewhere on the night he learned of this.
Even though everything seemed to be against Welles, he made Citizen Kane the way he wanted, allowing it to become one of the most influential films in cinema. note: Anya and the Witch’s Line Movie
Zack Snyder Deliberately Disobeyed Producers – Justice League
When Batman v Superman underperformed, the big-wigs at Warner Bros. felt the need to be more hands on for the follow-up, Justice League. They wanted to change almost every aspect of the movie including the tone, the length, and the design of the characters.
In the early stages, director, Zack Snyder made it clear he wanted Superman to don a black costume as a homage to the outfit he wore in the famous Reign of the Supermen storyline. The executives shot this idea down, simply because it wasn’t the red-and-blue costume that movie fans were familiar with.
Refusing to compromise his vision, Snyder shot Henry Cavill’s scenes with his traditional costume, but with the intention of changing the Man of Steel’s suit to black with CGI. When the studio complained the main villain, Steppenwolf, looked too scary, Snyder gave the character a more generic appearance. Once again, he intended to swap this look out for his original design in the eleventh hour without the producers’ consent.
We had to wait until The Snyder Cut was released to see these changes but there’s no question that Snyder’s alterations were the right move. note: Youth Killing Line Movie
Cobbled A Trailer Together To Shut Up The Critics – Batman
For millions of people, Michael Keaton will ALWAYS be their Batman. Countless DC fans are so excited to see Keaton put the cowl back on in the upcoming Flash movie, it’s hard to believe people were up in arms when it was announced he was portraying the titular character in Tim Burton’s Batman. Because Keaton was known as a comedian at the time, it was impossible to envision him playing the Dark Knight. When he was cast, some devoted fans believed this was a sign the film would have a more comedic spin, akin to the 1966 tv series.
To put everyone at ease, Warner Bros rushed out a trailer to show the film would be faithful to the source material. Now, rushing out a teaser for a blockbuster is nothing new. However, Burton hadn’t shot enough to release a cohesive trailer. As a result, the director scrambled to film as many complete shots as he could, edit them, and shove them together for the trailer. note: High Play Killer Movie
Tim Burton Trained Squirrels To Attack An Actress – Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Even though Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was very faithful to Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story, there was one major deviation. In the book, there was a scene where Wonka’s group of nut-tapping squirrels toss the spoilt brat, Veruca Salt, down the trash chute. Because this scene would be a nightmare to film, it was cut.
When it was announced the squirrel scene would be in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, viewers weren’t surprised. After all, the film crew can make the squirrels with CGI thanks to the wonders of modern special effects, right?
But contrary to popular belief, the squirrels in the remake were real. Obviously, the little critters were brought to life with animatronics and CGI for certain shots but this was purely for the actors’ safety. When you see the squirrels inspecting nuts, those guys are the real deal. To accomplish this scene, Burton had these rodents trained daily for ten weeks to sit on a stool, tap walnuts, open them, and deposit their contents on a conveyor belt.
Because viewers assume the squirrels are CGI in every shot, this scene never gets the credit it deserves. note: Countdown to Destruction Movie
Sam Raimi Filmed An Action Scene To Prove Tobey Maguire Could Play A Superhero – Spider-Man
After years of false starts, the film adaptation of Spider-Man finally got the green light. Being Marvel’s most prized superhero, it was no surprise that every Hollywood star was considered to portray the wallcrawler including Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie Sheen, Josh Hartnett, Heath Ledger, and Tom Cruise. With all these A-list names thrown around, no one suspected that the role would go to Tobey Maguire.
Don’t get me wrong – Maguire is a great actor. At the time, he had already proven to be a leading star with performances in Pleasantville and The Cider House Rules. Because of his timid manner and friendly face, it was easy to picture him as Peter Parker. But it seemed like nobody could see him playing a superhero, save for Spider-Man’s director, Sam Raimi. Despite the fact Tobey bulked up massively for the role, the producers were still not convinced.
To prove he was worthy to portray the wisecracking webslinger, Raimi filmed a scene of Tobey’s Spider-Man kicking the crap out of a bunch of thugs. After the producers saw the footage, they agreed he was perfect for the part.