More and more now when I take possession of some DTV, it turns out that the faces on the cover are barely in the movie. For production and distribution companies, this is a way of sucking up maximum profit from minimum expenditure. What’s more and worse, the actors appearing are complicit.
Out For A Buck
The premise is simple: You find a screeplay/premise that is cheap to purchase – cheap because it’s too shit for bigger studios to consider buying. Then you find an actor who is washed up but nonetheless recognisable. You negotiate a deal to have him shoot for as little as 12 hours, then build the rest of your production around his schedule. Everything else is secondary to the big hoax. Director, story, co-stars… probably the only other important consideration is getting a nice cheap location to film on.
So, you film on location and your big star comes in. Great, his footage is in the can. He remembered most of his lines, flunked a few and refused further takes, but hey, we can dub him later on. In reality, he hasn’t even read the script, he cares even less. Now all you do is complete the shoot with the dud co-star, who’ll effectively carry the other 90% of the movie. Good, your movie is in the can ready for post-production. Everyone including the ‘big star’ knows that it’s shit, but deals and contracts have already been signed.
Bait And Switch
Let’s be clear, this scam is a walk-by bait and switch. The whole idea is to catch the eye of a passer by in the store, with the latest DVD of “Actor X” appearing in the new releases section. Specifically, the victim – and I use the term victim quite deliberately – is the older consumer, who really isn’t tuned into the online world and is still very much an ‘analogue’ movie goer. The fact that “Actor X” is typically older and more desperate means that the older consumer also prefers his stuff. That’s why in many cases, the poster is actually more important than the story for these production companies. All they care about it getting customers to think they’re getting a movie with their favourite leading man, and the DVD cover is most important in the baiting process.
Who cares if they don’t like that their hero is barely in the fucking movie at all, or that it’s totally shit overall? They put the money down, that’s all that matters. But if the producers are lowlifes for pulling this shit, make no mistake, they couldn’t do it without their actors being in on the con.
A lot of washed up actors are doing this, but serial offenders are the likes of Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis and Stephen Lang. Stephen Lang is on the cover of Jarhead 2: Field of Fire. But when you watch the actual movie, a quick raid of the fridge and you’ve missed his entire role. Worse is the greed factor. Bruce Willis is possibly the worst offender here because not only is he not in dire need of money, he’s not washed up either. ‘The Prince’ was a bald-faced example of Bruce Willis conspiring with unscrupulous hack producers to screw his fans out of an extra buck. And that’s a fact As if Bruce Willis, who had more money than he could probably ever spend, needed that extra payday. Shame on Willis for doing it.
This is a growing trend. And you know, because it’s only a VOD/DTV market, not many sites give a damn. Certainly not the bigger sites. With this site I am going to start drawing a line in the sand though. There are too many ‘movies’ appearing these days with trailers on YouTube that feature a big actor, where 90% of their screentime is in the actual trailer.
This shit is going to stop.