Sunday, January 25, 2015

Berowne's 255

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "C" is for "cinema")
No quiz this week.  Instead, here’s another episode of the ongoing series: Berowne’s Mediocre Adventures.

From time to time I’ve written about my work as a film-maker, an occupation that like many others had its ups and downs – with maybe a tad more of the latter than of the former.

Well, one day I got big news.  A film I had made for Warner Brothers on Scandinavia opened in (muted trumpets are heard in the background) New York’s Radio City Music Hall!

 
As you probably know the Music Hall is a huge auditorium that’s part of Rockefeller Center in New York City.  Its nickname is the Showplace of the Nation, and for years it edged out the Statue of Liberty as the leading tourist attraction in the city.





Its awesome interior has been declared a city landmark.  What a cinema, 6,200 folks in the audience each time the film ran through the projector, and it ran through the projector four times a day.

I had wanted very much to avoid making a film that looked like the boring “travelogues” of yesteryear where a narrator would drone on about an old cathedral that was built in the eighth century, or perhaps it was the eighteenth - or maybe it was the twenty-eighth – but it wouldn’t matter since the audience had dozed off anyway.

I tried to have at least one sequence of humor in the movie to liven things up so when I was in Stockholm I had looked about for items that might be good for a slight chuckle or two.  For example, I wrote a small bit about how to folks of Swedish persuasion “cigarettes” were “cigaretters.”    

So in the script I’d start off with a few of these bits - nothing depraved, just little chuckle-makers - all leading up to a nice big (hopefully) laugh sequence.

All very well, but then I ran into the same problem that faces all writers who like to think they can write humor: how can one know in advance what will be funny?  With no audience, no one around, all you have is your gut instinct.

And then there I was, seated in the sea of folks at Radio City Music Hall, sort of amazed that I was watching my very own movie there, but wondering, when the film got to the place of the potential Big Laugh what would be the reaction?  Would there be cold silence?  Would anyone actually come up with a guffaw?

Well, I soon found out.

The movie got to the modest start of the humor sequence – the bit based on the word “cigaretters” – and I was astonished by what happened.  The 6,200 souls in the audience didn’t chuckle, they let go with a powerful roar of laughter that nearly knocked me off my perch.

The start was supposed to be just chortle-worthy, a small appetizer not the entrée, but their response was not only loud it went on for some time, completely drowning out the narrator so that the other chuckle items weren’t even heard.

I felt like standing up and shouting “Wait!  That wasn’t it yet!” but that was hardly practical.  That one laugh only gradually subsided and my carefully planned humor sequence proceeded quietly to go down the drain.

Oh well, I got a film into Radio City; I had to be content with that.


31 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

Well, you're wrong about one thing - these are not mediocre adventures!

Theresa Milstein said...

Definitely something to be content with! What an experience it must've been. I've been there two times--it's a beautiful space.

growing wild on waverly lane said...

I think each person has his own version of everything, including humor. Chalk it up to a peculiar audience and rejoice in the huge though off-target laughter. Wonderful you shared!

Mary said...

Really enjoyed reading this ... humour is tough to write ..I take my hat off to you!

ds said...

Nothing mediocre about this adventure.. So cool to have even made a film, much less premiere it at Radio City! And humor is weird: unless you know your audience really, really well (e.g., the person sitting across from you as you tell a joke), their reaction is completely unpredictable. In my (so much less than mediocre) very limited experience.

Gillena Cox said...

oh i remember going to NY on a vacation and one of my cousins taking me to Radio City

Have a nice Sunday

much love...

Truedessa said...

That sounds like a grand adventure and quite the accomplishment. I imagine it was a bit suspenseful waiting to see how it would be received. I have been there the place is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Humor can be difficult as you never know what will tickle someone's funny bone. Thanks for sharing Berowne.

Kathe W. said...

oh ho....guess one never knows what the audience will respond to...or not!
Thanks for the entertaining story!

purplepeninportland said...

Congratulations! As a lifelong (except past 6 years) New Yorker, I know how wonderful this must be
for you - laughs or not!

Kutamun said...

Thats the problem with using untrained canned laughter operators !
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhah

Altonian said...

Nice story Berowne. To paraphrase an old saying: 'It was not what you filmed but the way that you filmed it.' It was lucky you were not in Finland for that bit of the film - I don't think you could have done much with 'savuke' !! :)

Karen S. said...

I would never ever say or agree that you have mediocre advents! All your past experiences are enjoyable to hear about.

humbird said...

Now I'd love to watch this movie, and the lesson from your story - to have the'chuckle items' not one after other, but at least with some pause...to let people the time to roar in ecstasy... :)x Thanks for fun story!

ellen b said...

Wow, Congratulations!

Hildred said...

Love to hear of your career experiences Berowne, - such an interesting life.

Nonnie said...

mediocre- definitely not! I'm just thrilled that when on our high school senior class trip, we watched the Easter Extravaganza- nothing of mine published let alone presented in this fabulous theater!

Tess Kincaid said...

Your adventures are never mediocre Mr. B. ...thoroughly enjoyed...

Photo Cache said...

Nice to "know" someone in the film industry.

My ABC WEDNESDAY

Old Egg said...

And so "canned laughter" was invented. Is that you next post?

Berowne said...

It's an idea. Thanx for the suggestion.

Trubes said...

Such an interesting post and what an honour for you to have a screening at the RCT Mr B.
I've never known a film producer before, what a delight.
Fantastic theatre.
I wonder how they control all those people when entering the theatre then leaving it.
Amazing!
Best wishes,
Di.
ABCW team.

ABCW team.

Anita said...

How lovely it must be to see the public reaction to your movie- the fruits of your labour enjoyed in front of your eyes :)
Yes, can't blame them for reacting so & drowning your carefully planned sequence that followed!
I guess we must learn for the future and give proper spacing between such important scenes :)

Have a wonderful week!

Gattina said...

How wonderful for you !
Gattina
ABC Wednesday

Ninotaziz said...

You know when you read a piece, and you forget that it has been edited, or reworked - just that it is so brilliant and you read it. Smile. Chuckle. Smile. Laugh.

Lovely, Berowne. Simply joyous.

Sheilagh Lee said...

these are not mediocre adventures but interesting views into things a lot of us are not familiar with but would like to be. thank you for sharing

Berowne said...

To Ninotaziz and all the others who took the trouble to comment, my sincere thanks.

Susan Anderson said...

And isn't that the way it goes….

Ah well, you'll know for next time not to put all your funny bits together, eh?

Hey, at least you got the laugh!

;)

Lmkazmierczak said...

Fun read...comedians are a special breed♪ http://lauriekazmierczak.com/kinds-of-black-and-white/

sharplittlepencil.com said...

Wow, you have bragging rights on this, Berowne! Love the cigaretters... just don't like the smoke, ha ha. amy

Marie said...

A fascinating and fun post! Most of my jokes are barely "chortle-worthy" :-)

Joy said...

A fantastic place to show your film. The joke sounds like the cinema effect, it might be a wry smile between two people but when there is a hundred or more the laughter is contagious and somehow everything seems funnier.

 
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