With the 20th anniversary of the release of Academy Award-winner Gladiator this month, there has been some speculation – and even filmmaker hints – about a sequel or prequel in the planning. As studios grapple with the questionable future of epic films, a fly on the wall at a production meeting for the sequel reports on how a second Gladiator movie might be made in today’s new normal.
Day 5 of 25 days filming.
A conference room filled with legally-distanced men and women decked out in personal protection gear that looks designed for the crew of a pirate ship.
The first assistant director addresses the gathered.
Alright, everybody settle in. Masks, gloves, goggles in place?
Kevin, your antiseptic spray bottle is not a squirt gun. Put it down.
Okay. It’s a little unusual to have a production meeting at the end of our first week filming but the insurance bonding company would like us to go over a few issues of compliance.
Ridley is listening from his caravan. Albert, you have him on monitor? Those in front, confirm to everyone in back Ridley is waving hello.
You all know we’re on a tight schedule with a small crew…
Who said that? If you’re old enough to remember that a movie this size used to be made on a 100 day schedule with a crew of 400, you’re too old to be working.
Hey, wiseass, none of your business how Ridley’s age skews the bonding company’s curve.
Complaints about lunches: The American catering company had been disinfecting with bleach. In the food. They’ve been fired. If you touch a box lunch, you own it. Dieters, do not give away your desserts.
Grip department: No handing off equipment. Put it down, wipe it down, back away when the other guy picks it up. The social distancing inspector has noticed more violations in your department than any other. Anyone who can’t catch and throw should be replaced.
Kevin, hold up your boom mic.
Everyone see Kevin’s boom? That’s two metres. Anyone confused about social distancing, ask Kevin to show you his pole.
A few things. How long did it take to wipe down a thousand cardboard extras in yesterday’s Colosseum scene? Too long. We’re scrapping the cardboard extras. And we’re scrapping the Colosseum. It’ll all be green screen.
Extras casting, we’ll need another two dozen bodies for visual effects to replicate.
Of course, one at a time. What do you think this is, 2019?
Sizes, shapes, colours? Ridley? He’s shaking his head.
Casting, work with costumes, see what you can come up with.
Costumes, that means a little more work for you and your assistant. The two of you are already pulling sixteen-hour days? So what? You have a party to go to?
Another note for costumes: the wardrobe safety inspector reported that Russell’s gladiator hazmat suit doesn’t conform to standards. Yeah, I know they’re wanting hospital standards but that’s what’s in his contract.
Roger, I understand the face guard is reflecting. Maybe you can put a little more gel on the lens, soften the focus a bit. Work together – from a distance - figure it out.
Wait. Ridley’s saying something. Why can’t I hear? There’s an issue with the director’s microphone. Kevin, go to his caravan and see what’s wrong.
Who said that? The vehicle safety inspector. What do you mean, he can’t go in there until he’s had a shower?
The meeting ended. A naked sound engineer fixed the director’s microphone. The costume designer quit and was replaced by the head of extras casting who sent an email to her background actors informing them they would be performing in their underwear. Costumes would be graphically added in post. Russell waived his contractual right to a hazmat suit after the camera operator agreed to wear one and the boom operator extended the length of his pole to ten metres. A half-day’s shooting was lost when the sole hairdresser went down with symptoms. The love scene had to be shot with the leading lady in a hijab and the leading man in a leather helmet. With no days left on the schedule, the climactic battle scene was pared down to a cage fight. Each actor was filmed separately.
The movie was released in thousands of theatres worldwide to sold-out half capacity audiences. The first annual Zoom Oscars drew record-breaking television viewers and went without a hitch – except for a few incidents of hacking, one of which involved a confused Warren Beatty giving the Best Picture Award to a horror film entitled Glad He Ate Her Too. A new envelope was carefully sanitized before being delivered in the form of a paper airplane and, once again, Ridley Scott’s epic Roman Empire drama won the big prize.
To all the doubters who said, ‘they can’t make blockbuster epics anymore,’ we answer… We’re still checking the science.
Anything and Everything that has Nothing to Do with the Movies
Sometimes, we go to a movie to get away from the world and sometimes we go to see what’s going on in the world. This blog will offer comments on the world, the movies and their occasional overlap.