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'The Disaster Artist:' Re-making Scenes from the Best Worst Movie

"It was a fun challenge to be asked to make something look bad on purpose."1/11/2018 3:00 PM Eastern
Dave Franco and James Franco in 'The Disaster Artist.' All photos by Justina Mintz, courtesy of A24

The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco, is a movie about the making of a movie by someone whose life was already a work of creative imagination long before he got behind the camera," explains Richard Brody. "It's a version of the real-life story of Tommy Wiseau (played by Franco), an aspiring actor in San Francisco in the late nineties, who takes an acting-class friend, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), along to Los Angeles in pursuit of stardom.

"In 2002, with their careers going nowhere, Tommy, with Greg's help, makes a movie called The Room, which is a comedy of errors during the production. It becomes an object of derision at its première—and, soon, mockingly celebrated for its unmatched badness, it becomes a cult classic." To read the full article, click here

"The making of The Room gives The Disaster Artist its point and much of its broad comedy," says Manohla Dargis. "Filmmakers love making movies about movies, and Mr. Franco is no exception. Mr. Franco recreates the production of The Room— and the escalating behind-the-scenes nuttiness—with an assured, energetic touch, some fitting burlesque and an appealing cast." To read the full article, click here.

Christine Champagne explains, "Franco shot much of The Disaster Artist at Occidental Studios in Los Angeles, where production designer Chris L. Spellman built sets, including [the two leads'] San Francisco apartment — re-creations of key scenes from The Room.

"'We replicated pretty much everything that was part of The Room as thoroughly and consistently as possible,' Spellman says, noting he incorporated all the flaws of the original sets (such as sloped floors and windows that didn't fit the apartment). 'It's tough to tell a union carpenter, who has learned how to level things and measure twice, cut once, and keep everything plumb, to build things that are not quite plumb and a bit too high on the left.'

"Spellman filled the wonky sets with items Room fans will recognize, including the film's signature spoon artwork, which Spellman hired a graphic designer to make." To read the full article, click here

Cinematographer Brandon Trost tells Iain Marcks, "It was a fun challenge to be asked to make something look bad on purpose. For the scenes where they're filming The Room, I'd set up our prop film and HD cameras [Ed. note: In typically outsize fashion, Wiseau elected to shoot The Room simultaneously on 35mm film and HD video], then find the frame that matched the shot from The Room, so that when we looked at the live video tap it'd be something we recognized.

"I had the movie on a laptop for reference; we'd check reflections in TVs and glasses in the shots from The Room to figure out what was lighting the scene. My gaffer and key grip, Justin Duval and Jon Coyne, would rough in their best guess, using whatever instruments it seemed would make the bad shadows and lighting.

"It always seemed counterintuitive, but that's one of the things we liked about it. We'd tweak it from there, and that would also be the light that lit the scene for our cameras. I had watched some old BTS footage from The Room to check out what lights they used, and we mostly used the same—small Fresnel units and Kinos.

"Greg Sestero was always ready to help us understand the reality behind what we were doing, and some of our crew even worked on the original, adding a special meta twist to things," Trost continues. "My DIT, Raul Riveros, is friends with Joe Pacella, who was the first AC for The Room. He even showed us some photos of their cameras, an Arriflex BL-4 and a Panasonic HDX900.

"We rented the same gear, with video taps because I wanted the feed from those cameras so I could move from the shot on the monitor to the actors' faces. Those cameras were just props, really, but when they roll you can see the shutter spin in the tap and it feels like something is happening." To read the full interview, click here.  

Burden of Dreams:
The Disaster Artist

Cinematographer Brandon Trost on Creating The Disaster Artist

James Franco's Disaster Artist Production Crew Lovingly Worked to Recreate The Room  

In The Disaster Artist, How to Fail at Moviemaking

Why The Room Is a Better Movie Than James Franco's The Disaster Artist

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