Procrastination, particularly in the golden age of time-wasting courtesy of the internet, can weigh heavy on a person. But you won’t feel like you’re lagging on your duties once you see this list of five Movies With the Longest Shooting Schedules!
The irony of the film title is staggering in that it was stolen, in property and premise, by various studios, and later cobbled together by people who didn’t create it. It all started in 1964 with a little side project called “Nasruddin!” from designer Richard Williams, who wanted to create the biggest and most ambitious animated film ever made. This was a passion project, and Williams funded/worked on the film between studio gigs for over 2 decades. When he lent his genius to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” Warner Bros. bought up the rights to “Thief.” Williams couldn’t finish the project within the contracted time frame, so it was seized and given to a smaller company to finish. To make matters worse, by 1991 Disney had already ripped-off elements of his main characters and used them for a little film called “Aladdin.” By the time it came out in the U.S., a butchered copy of “The Thief and the Cobbler” was sold to and released by Miramax – a subsidiary of Disney – as “Arabian Knight.” It flopped and was forgotten, except to the animators who have held its brilliant design and production woes as legend.
“Tiefland” is a fairly classic, simple story of romantic entanglements between peasants and the bourgeoisie, but the filming of this tale was far more complex. On the one hand, Director Leni Riefenstahl was heralded as an innovator, bringing cinematic techniques to the field of documentaries that had never been known before; when the film premiered at Cannes, Cocteau adored it. The sequences were lush and took years to complete. On the other hand, she couldn’t find a lead actress to her liking, so at the age of 40 Riefenstahl starred opposite a 23-year-old Franz Eichberger. What’s more, the film was funded with a $7 million advance from her personal friend Adolf Hitler and many of the extras in this film were plucked from concentration camps. It’s amazing to think that a disgruntled crew could have called the director a “Shot Nazi” and been pretty much correct.
This could have been any film, honestly. It just had to be made by Stanley Kubrick, who was a rabid perfectionist with unchecked obsessive-compulsive disorder. Kubrick, who refused to shoot in America because of his fear of flying, had entire streets of New York rebuilt at Elstree Studios in England. The director once demanded 97 takes of Tom Cruise walking through a door before he would move on to the next shot. “Eyes” retains the record for the longest consecutive shoot, clocking 400 days without a day off.
“Gangs” was a juicy little pickle. The longer the production ran, the more ball-busting producer Harvey Weinstein expected the film to be a box-office smash. Director Martin Scorsese, meanwhile, was far more concerned with the artistic integrity of the piece and didn’t care if it meant going 25% over the projected budget to do so. The story demanded exact replicas of 19th-century New York City streets, which meant expansive sets had to be constructed for the shoot at Cinecittà Studios in Rome, Italy. To make matters worse, the film’s release was delayed by a year, the reasons for which are still not agreed upon by the creators to this day. Some say that lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t want it competing with “Catch Me If You Can,” others say the Twin Towers seen in the final shot was seen as tasteless so soon after 9/11, while Scorsese has claimed that he was doing re-shoots until October 2002.
In terms of long movie shoots, Bruce Campbell wrote the book! No really, he wrote “If Chins Could Kill,” recounting the demonically horrible shoot that was the making of this movie about…horrible demons. You should read it.