Film Industry Workers Discuss What Sets Are Like When Everyone Knows They’re Making a Terrible Movie

©Unsplash,Jakob Owens

Did you ever see The Disaster Artist?

It’s a movie that came out in 2017 and it’s about the making of a film called The Room, which was released in 2003.

If you haven’t seen The Room, I encourage you to check it out because it is unintentionally one of the funniest movies ever made. It’s totally ridiculous, over the top, and has gained a cult following simply because of how bad it is.

The Disaster Artist perfectly captures the feeling of the people who worked on the set of The Room and it is pretty hilarious because they all know it’s going to be awful.

Here are some amusing stories from folks on AskReddit who worked on sets for projects that everyone knew were going to turn out bad.


1. I love Roger Corman!

“I worked on a few Roger Corman movies in the 90’s so we knew were were making cheap throwaway films. Most of the people there were working to get experience and have a few things to put on resumes.

Things that would drop off quickly when better things came along. Just about everyone worked as hard as they could and had a great time busting our ass to make “Carnosaur III”.”

2. You can have some shitty days.

“I’m a camera operator.

It entirely depends on the mind set of the director and producer. In the entertainment industry, you’re working on people’s personal art in a lot of ways which can make those who created it take criticism personally. Much yelling and insults are thrown about when those in charge are having a bad day.

That can make for a REALLY shitty day if you’re the one they’re taking it out on. Those who say no one cares and it’s all for a paycheck don’t work closely with the creators.”

3. Uh oh…

“I recently worked as 1st Assistant Director for a short film and it was literally the director thinking that this script was all great but it had shitty dialogue and a terrible story that was unoriginal.

The producer had the same train of thought and cared for little pre production which made my job harder. Basically I had to convince the director and producer to get this one shot outside before sunset which they thought they could get later on.

Afterwards the DP thanked me and the director/producer turned around from their angst about moving from the location we were shooting a few scenes at to get this one shot.

This does not translate to every film job but it just shows how much pre production needs to be as big as a focus as production.”

4. Boring…

“My husband was a character actor for many years in movies. (Yes, you would have seen him) With very few exceptions, everyone is very professional on big movies, because that’s what it takes to get that far.

Someone is putting up a lot of money to pay all these people and everyone is serious about it. Sure there might be some eye rolling or lighting truck banter about some corny scene or whatever, but most people are just paying attention to their jobs, there is so much to do. Except for the actors.

The one time I went on the set, it was for a B movie he was essentially doing as a favor, had some ex-big stars in it, the call was for 7 am and he didn’t shoot until 3:30! We sat in a trailer watching tv all day. I don’t know how they do it. Gah! The boredom!”

5. Different experiences.

“I was in a movie for ScyFy.

Going in to it you know it’s not Shakespeare. Most people have the same attitude about it and that can make for a looser atmosphere. There is a ton of goofing around and generally not taking anything too seriously.

The pressure is less for a movie of that calibre. Because of that there is room to improvise. There is something fun about being in something terrible…sometimes. On the other hand, I have been in a bad TV show for ABC and it was not such a good time.

The pressure from the execs was palpable and it made everyone stress. The amount of money and resources that goes in to a show like that is mind boggling. When you have two weeks to shoot one show with huge set pieces and a large ensemble it makes the work less about getting it right and more about getting it in the can and off to the Studio.

We still had fun, but the pressure made for some interesting days.”

6. No clue.

“I was just the lead in a feature where the director really had no idea what he was doing. In almost every scene he broke some of the most basic rules of narrative filmmaking. In the very first cut of the movie he broke the 180 degree rule.

As the lead, I was in 90+ of 116 pages of the script and was filming 14-16 hours a day doing everything I could to try to make this film the best it could. Every time I caught him breaking a rule, I called him out on it.

He didn’t HIRE A CREW to help him make this movie. He hired a sound guy and figured he could do the rest. I’ve seen some of the footage and I think he was misled by his ego. The camerawork is unrewardingly ambitious and distracting.

Luckily for him he hired a great cast (not trying to say anything about myself, just the rest of the team). We, as the cast, became the crew. Every night, I helped hammer out the schedule for the next day, figure out what props we need, what scenes we didn’t get or need to reshoot, etc.

It was a headache after you’ve just filmed for 14 hours and am doing something that should have been done months ago.

All in all, we had hope that it’ll turn out alright. None of us really saw much of a future for it, but there might be some decent scenes to pull from.

It’s probably going to come out this summer and because my face is in almost every single scene, I can already tell I’m going to cringe almost the entire time watching it.”

7. Hard to tell.

“I have found its hard to tell if the film is really that bad. I mean I bet there were crew members on the original star wars going, “what the hell is this?!”.

I think its a bit of the opposite, every show/film is a gig and you’re working your position maybe trying to get moved up on the next show if the crew stays together.

But sometimes when you’re on something great you realize this. I saw this with my dad who was a production recordist. Worked show to show but then got on some no name show called “Seinfeld”. He rode that out year after year because he knew he was apart of something once in a life time.

Also the producers of Seinfeld were incredibly giving to their crews.”

8. A shoulder to cry on.

“I do Craft Service for a living and if things are going poorly I’m the first person everyone comes crying to, there’s comfort in snacks.

The crew, above the line people excluded, could care less whether the commercial/music video/ movie looks bad.

All they want is good pay, good food, and coffee.”

9. It depends…

“In my experience it can vary depending on who you’re around. Some people will realize what’s going on, then there are those who are going to believe in the product until the reviews come in.

For example, working on Pompeii the wardrobe department had made up pins that said stuff like “I wish a real volcano would hit this set” and you’d see a few people in the crew wearing them, but making sure not have them too visible down at the set because Paul w. S. Takes himself very seriously despite the amount of campy shit he puts out.”

10. Complete shit.

“I worked as a PA on a really low budget film in the 90s. Wasn’t in the industry, just that it was being filmed near my house and my friend was PA on the crew and offered me something to do for the summer.

The morale was complete shit. Nobody wanted to help anyone else. I had to argue with the producer to get $10 to buy nails so I could build a wall for the set. He wanted me to look around to see if there were any in the sawdust in the shop floor first.

The AD was getting the dick from the DP in a remote area of the location every day, and then she went OTR or something and started fighting with him openly on the set. Nasty, vicious stuff.

Oh and the food sucked.”

11. If…

“If the film is terrible but the production is smooth, that’s one thing; you can make fun of what’s going on, kind of just kid around on set, and deal with it. If the film is both terrible and terribly run, then you’re really in for a shitty ride.

If the crew isn’t really cared for, then a shitty project makes it all the more unbearable to keep trucking for. Of course, one keeps on trucking anyway because it’s still a credit.

But there have been times when I’ve dipped out of a project because it’s unpaid, poorly managed, and a total piece of shit on the other end–no upside at all.”

12. Won’t do that anymore.

“I did a few straight-to-dvd movies when I was just starting out and honestly I was optimistic it was just my inexperience leading to thinking it was bad …. and that the shitty script would get taken care of by good acting, and the bad acting would get fixed with good editing and the bad editing was when I gave up.

It was all around bad from the start, but I thought some saving grace would swoop in and save it at some point. And that’s why I don’t do indie (or low budget, straight-to-dvd) films anymore.

Why am I gonna bust my ass 22 hours a day for someone else’s shitty art?”

13. This is funny.

“Kind of a funny story about the filming of Super Mario Bros in 1993. Read this in the IMDb trivia… I personally love that movie:

“In his 2007 autobiography John Leguizamo states he and Bob Hoskins hated working on the film and would frequently get drunk to make it through the experience. Both men apparently knew the movie would turn out bad, so they simply tried to make the best of it. He also stated he felt one of the biggest reasons the movie turned out the way it did was because the directors wanted a more “adult” movie while the studio, considering the source material, was looking for a children’s film.”

14. Interesting…

“I saw a documentary that interviewed crew from the first Star Wars movie. A lot of them thought what they were going was laughable and ridiculous.

They thought the movie didn’t have a chance in the theaters. I can only imagine their attitude on set. When the movie came out the discouraged crew members were quite humbled, proud that they worked on the movie, and felt sorry for not working harder for Mr. Lucas.”

15. Don’t have much input.

“At the moment I am working as a camera assistant on adverts tv and film. The most common problem I come across is, that the camera man knows that a shot the director wants looks like shit.

But unfortunately, the camera man is not really allowed much input. The shot keeps on looking like crap and the director blames the cameraman saying he is doing it wrong when really the shot would never work in the first place.

Spent many a shooting day on one shot that is scraped on edit.”

Have you ever worked on a film or a TV show and you knew it was going to be a piece of garbage during the production?

If so, please share your stories with us in the comments!

We look forward to hearing from you!